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©erica fielder | website design studio-z

Narrative and History

Erica Fielder Studio (EFS) and team create interpretive signage, or wayside panels and displays, with precise science writing, cultural and historic text, and illustrations that are accurate, engaging and trigger feelings and memory. Erica Fielder is know as both naturalist and eco-artist and is a founder of the eco-art movement in the United States. She belongs to an international group of eco-artists who create art that teaches aspects of ecology, science and our relationship to nature so it is understandable and accessible to the general public. Her background includes creating nature walks along both city trails and wild pathways that lead participants to a sensory experience of their environment.

Erica Fielder Studio began projects in 1983 with funding from the California State Coastal Conservancy (SCC). EFS researched and made illustrations with text for 26 themes that can be identified along California’s entire coastal wetlands. Research for coastal dunes included such open space sites as MacKerricher State Park and Dune Preserve and Talawa Dunes State Park. Then, the topic of coastal wetlands became the guiding light for most of the early interpretive panels for the SCC. For this theme, research was conducted around what is now called Humboldt Lagoons State Park. Themes, text and images were also prepared from research done in and around Salt Point State Park, Sonoma Coast State Beaches and Point Reyes National Seashore. Farther south, our team spent time investigating many of the beaches and lagoons found along the California Coast from Point Reyes National Seashore to Tijuana Marsh and wetlands at the Mexican border.

Once the research was complete, EFS chose specific materials to use for creating the original artwork. Erica Fielder is a pastel painter and watercolorist, so these media, as well as charcoal and gouache were used, and still are used to day for the panel illustrations. Once the illustrations and text were finalized, images in ink were screened onto Plexiglas. Fortunately, Pannier Graphics http://www.panniergraphics.com/, Folia www.folia.ca, KVO Industries KVOindustries.com and Fossil Industries http://www.fossilinc.com/home.html, and SeaReach http://www.seareach.com/ have perfected panel fabrication and ink is no longer simply applied to a surface. These modern panels are durable and generally offer a 10-year warranty.

The early Coastal Conservancy panels were installed along California’s entire coastline. By 1990, visitors could view Erica Fielder Studio interpretive displays at the Elk Creek Enhancement Project, Richardson Bay Wildlife Ponds, Oceano Campground, Pescadero Marsh, Coal Oil Point Preserve, City of Crescent City, Lanphere-Christensen Dune Preserve, City of Oxnard, City of Ventura, City of Santa Barbara, Shoreline Interpretive Center, Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy, Arcata Marsh, Heart’s Desire Beach, Elkhorn Slough, Hayward Marsh, Tijuana Estuary, Battery Point, Kamph Park, Lynch Creek Interpretive Trail in Petaluma, UC Reserve & Carpinteria Marsh, Kendall Frost Reserve of the UC Natural Reserve System on Mission Bay, Glorietta Bay in the City of Coronado, City of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department’s Mission Bay Park, Chula Vista Nature Center, Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge of the Bayfront Conservency Trust, Duck Landing and Buena Vista Lagoon near Vista, Coyote Point Museum in San Mateo, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve Moss Beach, San Mateo Co., Main Beach in Pacifica, MacKarricher State Park, Chula Vista Nature Center, Bayfront Conservancy, Sweetsprings Marsh of Morro Coast Audubon Society, Howe Drive Park in Crescent City, San Leandro Marina, Marine Sciences Institute in Redwood City, Russian Gulch State Park, Kennedy Park of the City of Napa, Bolsa Chica of Bolsa Chica Conservancy, Tiscornia Marsh and Murphy Rock of the City of San Rafael, as well as Manilla Dunes and Schollenberger Park of the City of Petaluma.

In conjunction with panel installation, EFS developed a traveling educational art exhibit of the original interpretive works created for the panels. This two-year project, Life On The Edge: Preserving Our Coastal Wetlands of framed pastels and gouache pieces, traveled to colleges and science centers along coastal California. The show went to the Ventura County Maritime Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, the San Diego Natural History Museum, Wignall Museum and Gallery at Chaffey College, Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, College of the Redwoods in Eureka, the Montclair Foundation for History and Art, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District at the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center.

EFS key clients include California Department of Parks and Recreation. You can see panels installed at the Carmel Lagoon, Manchester State Park, Van Damme State Park, Big River State Park co-managed with the Mendocino Land Trust and funded by Save-The-Redwoods League, Little River State Park on the Mendocino Coast, Jug Handle State Reserve, Ford House Museum and the Cabrillo Point Light House co-managed with the Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association. Additional projects include panels along the Bay Trail and the Bay Area Ridge Trail in the City of Petaluma; conceptual interpretive plans for the Oakland International Airport funded by the Port of Oakland; panels installed along the waterfront of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Bay Model in Sausalito; conceptual work and interpretive design for the City of Yreka Greenway with WRA Environmental Consultants; panels for the Moran Lake restoration project spearheaded by Joni Janecki Associates and the County of Santa Cruz; bird identification panels created for the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and co-funded by the Botanical Gardens, Mendocino Coast Audubon Society and the Mendocino Foundation;

Upcoming projects include panels for Johnson Park in the City of Fort Bragg; interpretive possibilities along the California Coastal Trail; a mapping project along the Yreka Creek Greenway; panels for the parking area at the east side of the dunes at MacKerricher State Park sponsored by Cal Trans; and several more State Park and non-profit organization projects and the completion of two panels at Seaside Beach that are funded by the Coastal Conservancy managed by the Coastal Land Trust.

EFS now attends important conferences to promote a high standard of interpretive panel design. Erica Fielder presented an informative, illustrated PowerPoint lecture on how to make effective, beautiful interpretive panels at the past two National Association For Interpreters Region 9 conferences. Incedentally, Sam Ham, leader in interpretive research at the University of Idaho and the University of Tasmania, in Australia, spoke eloquently about the best interpretive practices. In the coming year visit our vendor booth at the Bay Area Open Space Conference, California Council of Land Trusts and the Western Section of the Wildlife Society and meet our representative at the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture conference. Erica Fielder Studio donated auction items to non-profits and did so at the last Western Section of the Wildlife Society and to the Bay Area Bird Observatory.

EFS has received funding for and engaged in important watershed educational / environmental eco-art projects: the Bird Feeder Hat: Seeding Watershed Awareness is the most well known of these activities and has been mentioned in Linda Weintraub’s Eco-Art Course Book Series EnvironMentalities: Twenty-Two Approaches to Eco-Art. The on-line Green Museum lists Erica Fielder’s watershed projects, as does WEAD, Women’s Environmental Art Directory. Erica has co-authored with Carolyn Shaffer and illustrated two books: Ecology for City Kids, and City Safaris, a Sierra Club Book.

In addition to the wide range of interpretive works, Erica Fielder Studio has produced graphic designs and brochures for the Grace Hudson Museum, Quantum Leap Coaching, well known public speaking coach Ethan Rotman, and the Ford House Museum in Mendocino.

Erica Fielder, MFA, sole proprietor of Erica Fielder Studio, is also a fine artist in pastels and watercolors and is skilled at working in reinforced concrete. As artist and eco-artist, she has been Artist-In-Residence at the Exploratorium and the De Young Museum in San Francisco, Visiting Professor in Art and Ecology at the Miami Dade Community College, College of the Atlantic, Sitka Center for Art and Ecology and Smith Gallery at Lake Erie College.

Memberships: Erica Fielder is a member of the National Association for Interpreters and of the Nature Sound Society housed at the Oakland Museum.