ATLASlab_KimberlyGarza_Headshot - Kimberly Garza.jpg



Kimberly Garza, Erik Prince, Elise Col de Cruz, Renee Lucena, David Vela, Andrea Leiva, Fernando Campofredo, Daniel Stanush

once was forest

California’s trees are a haven for contemplation, reconnecting us with something larger than ourselves. The estimated three trillion trees in California are vital to our wellbeing. Their leaves capture carbon dioxide, which is stored in their mighty trunks, and clean the air. Their roots stabilize the soils, capture rainwater, and control flooding. They are home to millions of creatures that we rely on, though we may not know it - from the microbes that make our soils fertile to the insects that pollinate our crops.


Global climate change and drought has led to widespread change and tree loss in California’s landscape. Over 147 million trees have died across 9.7 million acres of federal, state, local and private lands in California since the drought began in 2010. California’s tree mortality is driven by forces much larger than a stand of trees in the forest – climate change, drought, wildfire, and large-scale infestations by tiny bark beetles.


Once Was Forest specifically represents the lost redwood trees of Sacramento—reconstructing their trunks and highlighting their loss. Redwoods, the most iconic and identifiable tree when thinking about California’s picturesque forests, was once a popular tree in Sacramento’s impressive tree canopy (when rain was more predictable). Today, redwoods are no longer suitable in our changing climate, due to their high-water needs and posed safety risks.


Special thanks to the 'Sacramento Tree Foundation - Urban Wood Rescue' program for donating the wood used in this installation. The Urban Wood Rescue program diverts fallen trees from the landfill so they continue to bring benefits to the community.