Interview with Chris Carraher, aka Jack Dandy

Chris Carraher, aka Jack Dandy, is an ecological activist and visual artist whose work centers around her home: the vast desert that lies near the mouth of Joshua Tree National park, which Carraher describes as “having one foot in the wilderness and one i


Photo: Ellie Greenwood


Your art and activism are very associated with the desert. Why is that landscape such a source of inspiration for you?

The desert is a laboratory. It’s a lovely place to observe the world, because there’s not so much visual clutter and there is nothing interrupting my vision. In a way, it’s very simplified but also very dynamic. 

What’s the interplay between your art and activism? 

Sometimes I have to get off my environmental soapbox and observe through other mediums.  My art is the only place where I can really process beyond the rational and move into the other sources of internal intelligence.

What do you see as the greatest threat to your area?

Right now claim seekers are descending us on, especially regarding energy and expansion. They want to set up huge solar plants, which literally scalp the earth and destroy our ecosystem. It’s an old utility’s mindset of locating large plants in areas that are less populated. The solution is to put solar on all roofs in metropolitan areas rather than one large, environmentally destructive plant. It’s an environmental justice issue, asking the outlying areas to bear the brunt of a generation. 

How does your gender-queer identity mesh with your ecological activism?

It’s tricky here to be in a rurally conservative area and have the gender identity that I do.  Online is a place where I assert my gender identity. Here I don’t want it to be key issue and topic when there are other issues I want to work on. 

What’s next for you?

Things are hurtling toward change at a pace I’ve not seen in my life, so I feel the need to step back and observe. Even here, ‘in the middle of nowhere’ we are seeing the impact of national and global change.

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