Photographer Barbara Boissevain recontextualizes urban and natural landscapes into abstract photographs. A Silicon Valley native, she uses photography to highlight environmental issues in the region. In her ongoing series titled "Big Dirty Secrets," she uses a vivid, yet abstract visual language to cultivate awareness and provoke meaningful discourse about environmental stewardship. The San Francisco Bay Area leads the nation in environmental awareness, yet it is among the most polluted regions in the United States. The most recent chapters in this series are "Salt Pond Restoration 2010 - 2019” and "Extraction 2013 - 2019.”
Several of the aerial shots included in this series are of industrial salt ponds that have existed in the South Bay since the1800's and are characterized by environmentalists as having taken away the lungs of the Bay. Currently, they are a part of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, the largest wetland restoration program in the United States. Over the course of the next sixty years, these salt ponds will go back to their natural state. To date, this massive conservation project has restored over 15,000 acres and when completed will have cost over 100 million dollars. As the dramatic changes in the Bay continue, Boissevain will add to this series by documenting the increasing biodiversity from the ground as well as on the microbial level over the coming decades.
Exploring the subject of extraction since 2013, Boissevain began by photographing the Lehigh Hanson Cement factory, located only two miles from her childhood home in Cupertino, CA. The cement extracted there is used to produce the tremendous infrastructure needed to sustain Silicon Valley’s relentless growth. A byproduct of this factory is toxic waste polluting the Stevens Creek Watershed, carrying contaminants all the way to the San Francisco Bay, a metropolitan region with over 7 million inhabitants. Boissevain will continue photographing this and other extraction sites within close proximity to densely populated areas.