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Jen Urso

What Grows Here 

On display November 4–13, 2022

Phoenix, Arizona 

What Grows Here is a virtual, layered map showing more than 1,000 years of water use in the Scottsdale area. Layered in three dimensions, the viewer can view six large maps, stacked vertically over ground adjacent to the Arizona Canal, with the ability to walk up to and within the maps to see details. Each visible component of the maps represents points where water has been or is being used. Each layer’s water components will “fall” into the next layer below it. The bottom layer of the map (present day) will flow onto the ground. Since 900 AD, when ancient irrigation occupied areas near southern Scottsdale, the city has gone through many changes, including rapid expansion and the addition of many recreational lakes and swimming pools. We now face historically low water levels and restrictions on water use. How have we changed our approach to using water over the years, and does it contribute to long-term survival in the desert? 


Jen Urso is a multidisciplinary artist creating works that utilize public interventions, performance, drawing, mapping, and technology to honor a sensitive approach to our environment and community that respects the unseen and unspoken. Her work often takes place in the public, via occupation, immersion, and discovery.  

Urso has exhibited and performed across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil, receiving numerous grants and awards. In addition to creating work, Urso has curated exhibits and published reviews and writing. She creates hand-drawn maps and runs her online content and eco marketing business, Steady Glow Digital, which focuses on environmental sustainability in marketing. 

Urso is a passionate runner, gardener, seed-saver, environmental advocate, thinker, and mother. She received her bachelor of fine arts in art from Carnegie Mellon University. She lives and works in Phoenix. 

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