The Grand Canyon is a trip that everyone should take, at least once in their lives. Hopefully you’ve already experienced it. The huge, seemingly endless views from the rim, the sound of the breeze whistling through a raven’s feathers as he glides effortlessly above, the inspiration you feel when you gaze into something so grand, so timeless, and so amazing.
People from many walks of life feel the pull of the Grand Canyon, but, arguably, none feel the magnetic attraction, and intimidation to address the subject more so than artists. As artists, we also realize the fragility and vulnerability of a place that holds so much meaning for so many. That is why American Rivers, in partnership with NRS, Klean Kanteen, Osprey Packs, and Keen Footwear created this short film, The World Beneath the Rims.
This film explores three artists whose lives have been completely drawn into the world of the Grand Canyon. Bruce Aiken, world-renowned painter, came to the Canyon decades ago to live, work, paint, and raise a family, and he never left. Amy Martin, a wonderful Grand Canyon photographer, entered into the world of the Grand Canyon before she actually entered the world—her mom brought her into the Canyon in utero. After her mother tragically passed away, Amy returned to the canyon for contemplation and healing. Kevin Fedarko, author of The Emerald Mile and our guide for this story, came to the Colorado River to pursue his passion as a dory boatman, but was ultimately inspired to write about not only the fastest human-powered trip through the Canyon, but also the history and modern operations of the place itself.
On top of their life histories and passions for the Grand Canyon, these three artists realize that the place is threatened, from all four points of the compass, especially it’s small features—the seeps, springs, and waterfalls. Features so precious and delicate, that harming them would change the unique character of the canyon forever. A massive groundwater pumping scheme on the South Rim could obliterate these intimate spaces that support fragile life in this harsh desert landscape. And while the immediate threat from this development may have recently been rejected, the proposed construction project to build a tram into the heart of the Grand Canyon has reared its ugly head again. While these threats may be beaten back, the places where these development projects emerge never go away, and we must always be diligent against those who wish to alter our most treasured landscapes forever.
This film hopes to inspire people to protect these places—for life, for enjoyment, for history, and for inspiration. Many thanks to our partners, and to the film makers at Q Media, for helping us create this intimate look at our most iconic landscape. I hope you enjoy this beautiful piece.
Film & Photography: James Q Martin
Words: Sinjin Eberle, American Rivers, Communications Director