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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Fifty Eight: Man and nature -- expressing our relationship with the environment > Number Hill, Arco, Idaho, 2010
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Number Hill, Arco, Idaho, 2010
28-MAY-2010

Number Hill, Arco, Idaho, 2010

Arco was the first community in the world ever illuminated by electricity generated by nuclear power. (A reactor melted down in 1961, causing the world’s first fatal reactor accident.) Yet the most striking physical feature of the town is Number Hill, a rocky hill with numbers painted all over it. Since 1920, Butte County High School has made a tradition of asking each class to paint its graduation year on the face of the hill. In this portrait of Number Hill, I was able to combine the painted numerals symbolizing the memories of man upon a work of nature at the very moment that nature itself was also painting the hill with dappled light and shadow.

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Phil Douglis27-Jun-2010 03:46
Thanks for noting the symbolism of the paths that connect the town to the tradition, Tim. According to my research, the earliest class to paint its year on the hill was 1920. I can't find it here, either. As for Orderville, the name itself is worth the price of admission.
Tim May27-Jun-2010 00:28
I like several things about this image: first, the challenge to find the earliest year - I think it's "22" since I am assuming that "06" is 2006. Also, I like the curved paths that go up and down the will which seem to me to connect the tradition with the town.
This tradition also happens in Orderville, Utah. Here is a picture I made on our trip there: http://www.pbase.com/mityam/image/69250509
Phil Douglis19-Jun-2010 18:33
That's what makes this image so expressive, Carol. We normally see such things as this as vandalism, yet the community condones it, encourages it, and marks the passage of time with it. Meanwhile, nature tolerates such desecration, and someday, when the custom ends, the passage of time itself will eventually erase all of it.
Carol E Sandgren19-Jun-2010 18:09
I guess you can call this legal graffiti!! Had it not been a tradition for the school, this sort of painting would be verbotten and probably removed. Although I do not love the fact that humans are defacing nature even in a somewhat legitimate way, I do like the fact that these numbers stand for something such as marks of time. The colors and light of the natural hillside are beautiful though in spite of the manmade "decorations".
Phil Douglis17-Jun-2010 00:20
I am glad you pointed out that nature not only paints the hill with light and shadow here, but also color. Meanwhile, man can only come up with numbers. Thanks, Rose.
sunlightpix16-Jun-2010 23:09
I also like the way Nature is painting the hillside with spring green grass.
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