4 3 2 CRY: Fracking in Northern Colorado
Kathy T. Hettinga
I am an activist artist. My 2014 artist’s book, 4 3 2 CRY, Fracking in Northern Colorado, mediates parallel narratives of the tragic loss of my husband and the destruction of land, air, water, and families due to hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas, or fracking. Satellite maps of the drilled earth show intricate patterns scarring the land with X-shaped roads, crisscrossing from the large well pads—over 40,000 in the region. The land is pierced, perforated, and gauged beyond comprehension. Weld, Colorado, the most densely drilled county in the United States, is a pincushion of drilled and fractured earth.
The National Fire Protection Association hazard sign “4, 3, 2,” and the cryogenic code “CRY” echo throughout the book and symbolize a countdown to environmental lament, where “CRY” works as both a wailing, and a freezing of the heart against environmental stewardship. Environmental concerns about fracking include the high volume of water used (over five million gallons of water per initial frack), the number and kind of chemicals used, and controversial cryogenic processing plants that separate gases such as ethane from methane.
Honing in on the very farm where I lived as a young woman, in photographs and graphics I show the drill sites next to the beloved farmhouse and the chemicals used in that exact location. Thus, the chemicals in the ground are not just somewhere, but in an exact location that is known and loved. In 4 3 2 CRY, I wanted—for the record—to document accurate details about the practice of fracking, including lists of chemicals, satellite maps, statistics, and technical text; and to provide evidence with personal photographs, handwritten notations, and narrative poetry. The digitally printed, hand-bound book with rich surfaces and textures is a collaged, interwoven atlas of mourning and imminent loss.