"Echos of Derecho" by Natalie Deam
Natalie Deam is an Ames-based artist whose inspiration stems from the flora, fauna, and fungi of Ioway Creek. She is currently an MFA candidate at Iowa State’s Creative Writing and the Environment program and also holds a PhD from Stanford University. Her art often focuses on Iowa’s ecology, geological history, and environmental impact on ecosystems around the globe.
This series examines the flora, fauna, and fungi that were displaced, destroyed, or disrupted by the derecho that swept across Iowa on August 10, 2020, toppling millions of trees. Across the year, I watched as each season revealed new depths of the derecho’s devastation, from broken limbs and scarred bark to empty nests and insect invasions. Gesturing to the ecological changes in the derecho’s wake, each piece looks at the ways that death or disruption creates space for new life and transformation. Using raw wood slices harvested from an apple tree felled by the derecho, these canvases celebrate nature’s resilience and diversity while honoring the non-human lives lost to climate change. By creatively reclaiming derecho wood I hope to show a way of engaging with environmental disruption that does not end in despair or political frustration but offers opportunities for ecological appreciation, local engagement and education, and creative