Jacobs has spent a considerable amount of time experimenting and developing her processes in private, in both her traditional studio and outside. In the autumn of 2012, Jacobs was invited by Architecture for Art, a Hillsdale, New York, non-profit gallery, to undertake a project in nature. Titled Clearing, Jacobs effectively “rescued” a walnut orchard, transforming it into arboreal installation. She and her crew mowed the jungle of undergrowth from beneath the trees, clearing it out, creating paths and open areas, liberating the trees, and transforming it into a grove: a space. Jacobs installed some sixty-eight canvases on the trunks or branches of the walnut trees, many of which became small paintings.
Clearing was initially intended to be a project of a few months. It was neither intended nor expected to stand for two and a half years. As a project, it morphed into a Christo and Jeanne-Claude–like or Beuysian social sculpture, not a planned community park à la the High Line in New York. Jacobs’s wrappings were pure intervention, almost like swaddling on the trees’ branches and trunks. The orchard was transformed, but it was “devoid of mythic, surreal, or ceremonial references, which have imbued Noguchi’s designs,” for example. Rather, Clearing was a site designed to provide a positive human experience, much like the earthworks of Herbert Bayer.