January 8, 2011 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Exploring the role of women in landscape architecture, the documentary film, Women in the Dirt, takes us behind the scenes with seven of California’s most influential female designers: Mia Lerher, Andrea Cochran, Cheryl Barton, Isabelle Greene, Katherine Spitz, Pamela Palmer, and Lauren Melendrez.
“I’m interested in the experiential and the perceptual and how that can be applied to the landscape design. Because it’s all about space and when you can tweak people’s movement through space you can also tweak their perception.”–Andrea Cochran
Women, the film demonstrates, are influencing the profession of landscape architecture more today than ever before. Though each of the landscape architects featured has a unique body of work, “their concerns overlap in the realm of sustainability and enduring design.”
By shaping our lives, transforming our cities, and nourishing the environment, landscape architecture, as the film shows, is more than the “simple arrangement of plants and flowers for corporate spaces and the gardens of rich people.”
“What we can do as landscape architects is look at these notions of materials, and how we can use them to the best advantage, and our resources like water. Water is so precious that we can’t waste it, we have to use it in small amounts, and we have to use it effectively.”–Pamela Palmer
“When I see sycamores, I love them, because they’re not really yellow, they’re not really gold, they’re a little bit brown. They speak of death and rebirth. And they cast this amazing golden glow. So, when we bring that to the city, we’re bringing an amazing piece of art from our ecology into the city.”–Katherine Spitz
Director Carolann Stoney conceived of the idea for this documentary while she herself was studying landscape architecture. Her short film on the subject received the 2009 American Society of Landscape Architects Honors Award in Communication.