The stories of Texas’ wind farms are commonly told in terms of acres and megawatts. Artists Laura Zak and Kim Cypert, however, want to dig deeper into the cultural and social impacts of the state’s booming wind industry. Zak and Cypert are working on a performance art show incorporating insights from the digital wind energy oral history collection at Texas Tech University’s Special Collection Library, in Lubbock. The collection, which includes interviews with farmers, landowners, wind developers, municipal leaders and environmentalists, documents the experiences of those affected by wind energy development in Texas.
Zak, a Lubbock native, is particularly interested in how the wind industry is changing the rural landscape, as “cotton fields, yellow grasses and mesas” give way to “lattice, metal and wire”. Zak and Cypert will be working on the performance art show as interns of Ogallala Commons, a nonprofit community development network dedicated to fostering socio-economic development in the Great Plains region.
The performance will have two components. First, an outdoor installation will be constructed and video documented and played at the show. Second, Zak will write and perform a creative nonfiction short story, which will draw from the oral histories as well as her own experiences “growing up with wind.” The performances are scheduled for January 2012 in Junction, Texas, and May 2012 in Lubbock. Zak and Cypert have posted a video about their project (see below) on kickstarter.com, where supporters can donate money for time, supplies, materials and venue rentals for the show.
“We are not trying to change minds, force an agenda (or) call one side bad while the other is good,” says Zak, in the video. “Rather, we are using our art to ask questions. We want our friends, neighbors, community, to ask for themselves what is beautiful, what is industrial, what we can get used to and what we can’t.”