Ann Singsaas

About the Artist

Ann is a painter and former field biologist. Her art education started at Concordia College in Moorhead MN where she earned her BA and includes the University of Wisconsin, University of Illinois and Eastern Michigan University.  Her work centers on natural elements using watercolor and oil on aluminum as her chosen media. For this project, she has branched out into digital painting. She is currently living and teaching in Stevens Point WI.  Her website is


About the Artwork

For this project, I wanted to evoke the prints done for the National Parks by the Works Project Administration (WPA) in the 1930s. A connection with the depression era program that put people back to work making the nation stronger seemed apropos.

These epic looking images appeared in train stations and travel agencies all over the US and led a generation to visit, explore and appreciate our national parks and in tern, value our collective lands.

All sites I have depicted would be affected by the proposed mine. My hope is these images will entice all to visit these places and find the value in them beyond the monetary.

Corrigan’s Lookout  digital painting

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This site provides a stunning view of part of the narrow band of Huronian-age (middle Precambrian) bedrock that forms the iron-rich Gogebic-Penokee Range which runs near the Michigan towns of Ironwood and Bessemer and the Wisconsin towns of Hurley, Pence, Upson and Mellen. Erosion-resistant conglomerates form the steep ridges; between which veins of highly eroded lavas form lakes and wetlands. These hills where carved from some of the oldest mountains on earth. The North Counrty Trail ( passes by Upson Lake here.

Tyler Forks  digital painting

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This class 2 trout stream boasts a miniature slot canyon only 300 feet from which is the first phase of the proposed mine site. The Penokee range is a key piece of land for drinking water. This area makes up the headwaters of the drinking water source, both surface and groundwater, for the municipalities of Ashland, Mellen, Highbridge, Marengo, Odanah, Upson and the Bad River Reservation. The rise in elevation of the Penokees creates the hydrologic pressure that supports the abundance of artesian wells found along the Chequamegon Bay shoreline.

Caroline Lake  digital painting

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In 1997, The Nature Conservancy purchased 1,044 acres from Georgia-Pacific Corporation. The preserve is enrolled in the Managed Forest Law, and a management plan has been written that provides for a sustainable working forest while meeting the goals of protecting natural processes, water quality, and biodiversity. Lake Caroline is also the headwaters of the Bad River that runs north to Lake superior and provides the Bad River Indian Reservation with its wild rice crop.

True Value watercolor

Some of the things of value: wild rice, boreal chorus frog, red maple, wood turtle, canadian yew, brook trout, winter wren, mayfly, yello birch.

ad valorem (according to value) bonum commune communitias (for the common good of the community)

Ecosystem Service: treatment of waste, clean drinking water, pollination of food crops

Native Americans consider the effects of their decisions on future generations, they are investing wisely.


Why I wanted to do this project:

As a field biologist in 1997, I worked in Northern Minnesota, on the Mesabi Iron Range doing biodiversity studies. There I found large tracts of land, abandoned by the mining companies, turned to dessert with little hope of reclamation or recovery. It seemed all the worth had been drained from the land, the town and the work force with none of the money that had been made remaining to sustain those who were left.

In 2010, I visited Røros Norway, cultural site, crossroads, former mine, now a flourishing tourist destination and UNESCO world heritage site.  It was such a world away from the vacant Mesabi Range, I wondered what the difference was. It seemed they had taken a look at what would sustain their lives there beyond a single industry or company to depend upon.  The prosperity appeared come from within the community and what its people had to offer as opposed to an outside interest looking only to take away resources. In the US, out of state companies have little motivation to care for the land and its people. A mining company looking only to profit from a temporary increase in steel prices does not have staying power and cannot care for a land and it’s inhabitants long term. If there is to be a sustainable solution for economic stability in the region, it will need to come from the people who live there and care about the place as a whole.

In making these artworks, I wanted to turn people’s attention from what seems to be only a political issue to the knowledge of a place.  Regulation and legislation can be such abstract concepts but something you know and feel from your own experience can influence your political opinion in a profound way that transcends simple partisan debate. Wisconsin’s forests are a well-kept secret, harboring animal corridors, recreation havens, and wild places of small majesty.  I wanted to invite all citizens to come to these small places of majesty and see what all the fuss is about.



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