Iowa: A Visual Investigation of Changing Land-Use and the Ecosystems of Industrial Food Production

Bedrock Dem Elevation slope Soil that requires tile drainage for optimal agronomic yields
Bedrock Dem

This project investigates the complex and dynamic history, and current state of Iowa’s environmental and social ecosystems so as to contribute to broader discussions of environment, sustainability and industrial agriculture. We are currently expressing our collected data as maps, spanning from changing hydrology, pesticide use, soil erosion and beyond. The project is imagined as resulting in a general audience exhibition and associated public programming.

The specific research focus of this project engages with changing land-use practices that are initiatied and supported by industrial agriculture. We look at the farming practices of corn, soybeans and hog-operations. This includes, research into the flow of inputs and outputs of pesticide use, antibiotic ingestion, soil erosion, and naturally incorporates an examination of waterways. We continue our research into the socio-economic realm of food consumption and the effects of industrial agriculture on both local communities and the wider American and global consumers who rely on Iowa as the foundation of their food supplies.

In its initial stages, we are accepting donations to fund this project to fruition. For more information, please email

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.