Threshold on The Story!

November 13th, 2012 by admin

I was recently interviewed about this project for the radio show The Story with host Dick Gordon from American Public Media.

Click here to listen to the segment!

While the web cameras haven’t quite worked out like I had hoped it’s still nice that this project lives on.

Thanks to my family for their help and support with the project and for those that continue to share it.

En Route’ – Video

November 11th, 2012 by admin

If We Lived Here: En Route from Paula Rebsom on Vimeo.

En Route was filmed in December of 2009 with a small hand held camera while my father, husband, and I traveled to the site to document the project. It was an adventure to get there as we had to navigate many snow drifts on the gravel road along the way, and waist deep snow in some places as we walked to the site. Along the way my father recounts the story of the last winter they spent in that house before moving into town, of how he would have to shovel his way to the highway and stick his head out the window to see the road. En Route ends with a short video that my mother took of the house engulfed in flames.

Web Camera Update

May 9th, 2011 by admin

Last July my husband, father and I worked to get the poles installed for the insulated camera cases along with a cow proof solar panel tower!

I’m happy to report that solar panel fort is still holding up, but unfortunately busy schedules and another uncooperative winter/spring have me still patiently waiting for the install of the actual cameras. It’s hard being a thousand miles away from the work where I have little to no control over what happens when, but my father is taking fantastic care of it in my absence and gives me monthly guesstimates on when he thinks the cameras will be installed. Of course the weather always throws in a curve ball and I’m relying on the kindness of an extremely busy neighbor who has knowledge of wireless technology which I know nothing about! I have hope that soon the cameras will be dusted off, installed, and will go live. Until then please feel free to browse through the remainder of the site and check back for updates.

Camera case for the back of the house.

Camera case and back of solar panel for front of house.

Eastern Kingbird family moves into unit H!

August 16th, 2010 by admin

This past July I returned to North Dakota for a family reunion and to check on the house to see if we had any activity in the bird houses. I’m happy to report that our first tenants are an Eastern Kingbird pair and they set up house and home in the letter H of the word HERE. Eastern Kingbirds are very territorial and will attack much larger birds in order to defend their nest. This most likely means that the remainder of the homes will stay vacant as long as the Kingbirds are here! I saw no woodpecker activity in the letter “I”, which my father had earlier reported, and am assuming the Kingfishers had something to do with that.

Also on an interesting note – the kingbird moved into a home designed for barn swallows. It has an open front with a flat bottom and pitched roof where the swallows will build their nest. However, I noticed that i nailed this particular one on upside down and the Kingbird must have liked how the upside down roof made a nice little hollow for it’s nest. However the flat bottom is short and doesn’t provide much shade coverage in the hot ND summer sun. Let’s hope the little ones made it.


June 30th, 2010 by admin

My dad reported seeing activity in the letter “I” the other day! This is super exciting because that is the woodpecker bird house. I’ll be headed home soon to investigate further and will be sure to post pictures.

And maybe, just maybe we’ll also make some progress on the web cameras…………..the wind took down the cell tower that was going to transmit the wireless signal shortly after it blew the transmition towers in half. It’s reportedly back up and cemented in. Somehow the house still stands! (knock on wood)

oh. Snap!

April 7th, 2010 by admin

transmission tower folded in half! image source

On good friday another winter storm rolled through North Dakota. This time it was south central ND, about 100 miles west of my project. It was heavy wet snow, and it took down nearly 8,000 power poles and power lines, including some transition towers as you can see in these images.

My house would have snapped in two for sure! I’d at least like to have it up one winter with the live web cameras up and running before mother nature makes her mark…….(knock on wood).

more folded transmission towers. Image source

Calving Season.

March 10th, 2010 by admin

Just spoke to my father about the web cameras status. Another 30-60 days at least. In addition to the snow accumulations that make it difficult to impossible to get the equipment over the hill by truck or foot it’s calving season! For those of you that don’t know anything about that it involves 60-90 days of being “on call” 24/7 in order to make sure that the momma cows are safely delivering their calves. This becomes a lot more hectic then one might think and it involves all kinds of equipment like an OB chain, calf jack, flashlights, blow driers, blankets, etc.

The farmer who is renting my parents land (and is in the thick of calving season right now) is the one who knows how to get these cameras up and running which is a bit tricky when you’re in the middle of nowhere without power or an internet signal. My father assures me that I’m still on the farmers “To do list”, just below calving season!

“If we lived here” press release for The Art Gym exhibiton!

February 13th, 2010 by admin

Paula Rebsom at The Art Gym

If We Lived Here will be shown in the small gallery at the Art Gym on the Marylhurst Campus in Lake Oswego, which is just south of Portland, OR from February 21st – April 9th. Showing in the larger exhibition space will be Melody Owen. Melody Owen’s exhibition in The Art Gym is also part of Portland 2010: A Biennial of Contemporary Art.

Opening reception February 21: 3-5


In If We Lived Here, Paula Rebsom continues her exploration of habitat and complex relationships among animals and people. During a 2007 residency at the Ucross Foundation in northeastern Wyoming, the artist placed numerous small house facades on a hillside filled with prairie dogs and their burrows. She then observed and photographed. The results were both intriguing and humorous.

For If We Lived Here, Rebsom, who lives in Portland, Oregon, but who was raised in western North Dakota, has devised a project that uses technology to tie one place to another. This time the project is as much about the migration of humans, loss of home, and its reclamation, as it is about animal habitat. In 1979, the Rebsom family moved from their farm during a brutal winter to nearby Dickinson. Over time, the original house, barns and outbuildings on the 1,300-acre property decayed, were vandalized and became home to birds, mice and various critters. The family destroyed the structures for liability reasons in February 2009.

Late last summer, the artist returned to North Dakota to begin work on her first permanent outdoor installation. She built a 16-foot high and 40-foot long “billboard-like replica” of her grandparents’ original homestead. In December, she went back to film and outfit the site with recording equipment. Those recordings will be used for presentation and projection in The Art Gym’s Gallery 2.

Once weather permits, two wireless web cameras will be installed on the property, and provide live feed to the gallery. The video will also be available for viewing 24/7 on the artist’s web site Visitors to The Art Gym and to the website will have an opportunity to observe both constancy and change in a landscape very different from western Oregon — changes in weather as the seasons move from winter to spring; the occasional arrival and departure of birds, deer and cougar; the visits of family to check on equipment, walk the land and look for wildlife.

The artist writes:

In its simplest form If We Lived Here was built in an attempt to provide shelter for the birds that were displaced when their home was destroyed. In it’s most complex form it is a quiet and haunting, ghostlike reminder of what was, what is no longer, and what may never be. It holds memories far beyond my years and comprehension while at the same time providing a new presence of hope and possibilities for this rural landscape — the landscape my mom was born and raised on, the land where she and my father tried to make a living, a place that I dreamed as a child to call home, the land my sister and I will someday inherit.

About Paula Rebsom
Paula Rebsom received an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Oregon in 2006. She did her undergraduate work at Dickinson State University and post-baccalaureate in studio at the University of Minnesota. She has exhibited at Portland State University, Tilt Gallery, Portland Community College and the Portland Building installation space. Rebsom is a member of the Marylhurst University Department of Art & Interior Design.

Live Video feed update

January 30th, 2010 by admin

The wireless web cameras are patiently waiting to be installed on site in North Dakota. The same harsh winter that contributed to my parents leaving the farm 31 years ago returned this year making access to the site difficult, oh the timing. I will continue to keep you posted on their progress, so that soon both you and I can access the site online 24/7 in the hope of catching a glimpse of where the deer and the antelope play and watching the ever changing North Dakota landscape.

Check back here often or join my twitter feed!

Special thank you to the Oregon Arts Commission for the generous grant to purchase the cameras.