The New Social Environment#188

This Land: A Conversation with David Opdyke, Lawrence Weschler, and Maya Wiley


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Join David Opdyke, Lawrence Weschler, and Maya Wiley for a conversation on This Land’s mural vignettes, the corrupted system that got us here, and what it will take to make a new future. We’ll conclude with a poetry reading from Allison HedgeCoke.

In this talk

David Opdyke’s This Land is an epic mural fashioned out of vintage American postcards, which the artist then treated with disconcerting painted interventions—highlighting the climate crisis. A book by the same name affords readers a closer viewing of Opdyke’s devastatingly sardonic take on our impending ecological future. Interspersed among the detailed visual sections of the book are insightful thematic essays by Lawrence Weschler and an afterword that serves as a stirring call to action, by civil rights attorney and current New York City mayoral candidate Maya Wiley.

Join David Opdyke, Lawrence Weschler, and Maya Wiley for a conversation on This Land’s mural vignettes, the corrupted system that got us here, and what it will take to make a new future.

This Land is currently on view at Mana Contemporary. Learn more about the exhibition, and find out how you can visit here. This Land can also be explored at leisure and in high-resolution detail at

David Opdyke

David Opdyke
Portrait drawing of David Opdyke by Phong H. Bui
David Opdyke is an artist known for his trenchant political send-ups of American culture. Opdyke’s political awakening in the early 2000s led to a body of work that confronts the horrors of contemporary America. His hyperreal topographical models of suburbs comment on mall culture and suburban sprawl, while his sculptures of ruined monuments mock imperialistic hubris. His work is held in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, MoMA, and the Washington Convention Center.

Lawrence Weschler

Lawrence Weschler
Courtesy of Lawrence Weschler
Lawrence Weschler is the author of over twenty books of narrative nonfiction, most recently And How Are You, Dr. Sacks? (FSG, 2019). He is a former staff writer at the New Yorker, served as director of the New York Institute for the Humanities, and artistic director of the Chicago Humanities Festival. His books include Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder, Pulitzer Prize finalist; and Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences, winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award.

Maya Wiley

Maya Wiley
Courtesy of Maya Wiley

Maya is a nationally recognized racial justice and equity advocate. She is a leader in city government and in spurring democratic change. As Counsel to the Mayor, she delivered for New York City on civil and immigrant rights, women and minority owned business contracts, universal broadband access and more. After leaving City Hall, she held police accountable as Chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, and worked to improve public education as a Co-Chair of the School Diversity Task Force. At the New School, where she served as a University Professor, she founded the Digital Equity Laboratory on universal and inclusive broadband.

Maya is a veteran of both the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the ACLU, was a former Legal Analyst for NBC News and MSNBC — where she argued against Trump’s attacks on our civil liberties and democratic norms — and was the founder and president of the Center for Social Inclusion. Maya was also Senior Advisor on Race and Poverty at the Open Society Foundations, the largest funder of human rights work the world over.

The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poetry reading, and we’re fortunate to have Allison Adelle Hedge Coke reading.

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke
Photo by Adrianne Mathiowetz
Allison Adelle Hedge Coke is author of a memoir, a play, and 7 poetry books, including the forthcoming Look at This Blue. A Distinguished Professor at UC Riverside, she teaches Creative Writing and the School of Medicine and directs UCR Writers Week and UCR Along the Chaparral.

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.