The ecoartspace blog will feature artist profiles and reviews of exhibitions, as well as writings on ecological systems. We are interested in presenting work that artists are making in collaboration with scientists, and poetics including spoken word, opera, and performative work. Painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, drawing, and printmaking are all welcome media. Speculative architecture and public art are also encourage. Submissions for posts can be sent to info@ecoartspace.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

You can access the previous ecoartspace blog HERE (2008-2019)

ecoartspace, LLC

Mailing address: PO Box 5211 Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502
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  • Wednesday, November 25, 2020 5:23 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Happy Giving Thanks Day!

    Seems we have lots to be thankful for this holiday season, a new incoming President and a first woman and woman of color as Vice President. We have many new leaders, including more women elected to Congress than ever before.

    Thanksgiving is a day that some Indigenous people celebrate their gratitude with the tradition of feast days, and recognize that their people have persisted through the centuries despite the impacts of settler colonialism, including acts of genocide.

    Below is a translation of the Mohawk version of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address that was developed, published in 1993, and provided, courtesy of Six Nations Indian Museum and The Tracking Project.

    Let us show thanks for the lands where we reside here on Turtle Island, and may we see plant life here for many generations to come.


    Greetings to the Natural World

    Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address

    The People

    Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.

    Now our minds are one.

    The Earth Mother

    We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.

    Now our minds are one.

    The Waters

    We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms- waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.

    Now our minds are one.

    The Fish

    We turn our minds to the all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.

    Now our minds are one.

    The Plants

    Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

    Now our minds are one.

    The Food Plants

    With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.

    Now our minds are one.

    The Medicine Herbs

    Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

    Now our minds are one.

    The Animals

    We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.

    Now our minds are one.

    The Trees

    We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.

    Now our minds are one.

    The Birds

    We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds-from the smallest to the largest-we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

    Now our minds are one.

    The Four Winds

    We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

    Now our minds are one.

    The Thunderers

    Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We are thankful that they keep those evil things made by Okwiseres underground. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

    Now our minds are one.

    The Sun

    We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.

    Now our minds are one.

    Grandmother Moon

    We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.

    Now our minds are one.

    The Stars

    We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to the Stars.

    Now our minds are one.

    The Enlightened Teachers

    We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.

    Now our minds are one.

    The Creator

    Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

    Now our minds are one.

    Closing Words

    We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

    Now our minds are one.


    English version: John Stokes and Kanawahienton (David Benedict, Turtle Clan/Mohawk) Mohawk version: Rokwaho (Dan Thompson, Wolf Clan/Mohawk) Original inspiration: Tekaronianekon (Jake Swamp, Wolf Clan/Mohawk)


    Image above: Chrissie Orr and Seed Broadcast, Glass Gem or Rainbow Corn grown by Carl Barnes, included in SEED: Climate Change Resilience at the Albuquerque Museum, New Mexico, 2019.

  • Monday, November 09, 2020 2:28 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Bonnie Sklarski, Shoots, 2003

    State of Nature: Picturing Indiana Biodiversity
    Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    It's quite a treat to see an art exhibition (online), which encourages an immersive experience at the interstice of the sciences and the arts. State of Nature, on view at The Grunwald Gallery at Indiana University in Bloomington through November 18, 2020, presents artworks juxtaposed with artifacts including fossils and extinct taxidermy animals, along with video works and artist interviews. Many of the artist’s processes are embedded in years of observation and interaction with their Indiana environs. For example, Bonnie Sklarski's painting titled Shoots (above), is a study of a creek embankment, and Maria Whiteman's installation titled Living with Mycelia (below), presents photography as scientific observations of fungi, alongside live specimens, and to educate the importance of the role of mycelia within the forest ecosystem.

    Maria Whiteman, Living with Mycelia, 2020 

    The artists included in the exhibition successfully express how to present artistic observations to a public, including ecoartspace members Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris. Also included are Suzanne Anker, Joianne Bittle, Lucinda Devlin, Dornith Doherty, Margaret Dolinsky, Roger P. Hangarter, Kate Houlne, Dakotah Konicek, John McNaughton, Martha MacLeish, David Morrison, Joyce Ogden, Ahmed Ozsever, Casey Roberts, Bonnie Sklarski, Gene Stratton-Porter, Mark Tribe, Caleb Weintraub and Maria Whiteman. 


    Geological cores above and below Ahmed Osever's  Shallow Cores, 2020

    Joyce Ogden, Heaven and Earth, 2016 and Mound Calendar, 2017

    The whole exhibition is wrought with fantastic samples and reflections on the natural world in Indiana: its disappearances, like the Jefferson Ground Sloth full skeleton, and the ecological histories that are present in the environment. The process of observation is presented through scientific geologic cores that are used to draw conclusions about the history of a land, presented in close proximity to artistic interpretations. Ahmed Osever recreates stylized core samples from an industrialized environment in Shallow Cores (above). These juxtapositions tell the stories of environmental and human impacts, as well as the overlapping processes between the sciences and many art practices. An incredible example of this was Joyce Ogden’s work titled Heaven and Earth and Mound Calendar (above). These works are the result of a major lifestyle change and deep interactions with the soils in southern Indiana where Ogden lives and where she has built her studio. Though Joyce’s garden soil is not the best for planting, she uses its material properties to describe a cyclical calendar, one that revolves around the moon and changes each month to reflect Native spiritual practices derived from the lands she currently lives on. 

    Matterport 360 snapshot of sloth and Weintraub paintings

    The works located in the far right gallery (above) embody an exchange between observable environment and expressive output. Viewers are presented with geological cores that recount the thousands of years of history even before humankind set foot in Indiana. Next, dried plants and wasps nests that are, arguably, nature’s artworks. Two expressive and surreal scenes painted as hypothetical realities by Caleb Weintraub, are stand out with their cool tones and thick paint representing a human-built environment overrun with plants. These images embody the essence of the exhibition: a vision or meditation on how the arts and scientific observation can merge to compliment each other, combining expression and observation of the environment around us, therefore creating both proof and idealism. 


    Saylor/Morris, Eclipse, 2014 (far wall and below)

    This combination is especially relatable in the work of Saylor/Morris, located in the center space (above), whose mesmerizing video projection Eclipse presents a flock of birds which become the growing leaves on a tree that then ascend into the atmosphere. One could read this work as both the moment of the Holocene era, where there was maximum biodiversity on the planet prior to climate change, but also as the growing human population and its effects as overcrowding forces an ascension to heaven for many species. 


    A fantastic example of both the collaboration of the arts and the sciences as a meditation on the place, known as Indiana—the State of Nature: Picturing Indiana Biodiversity provides a platform for reflection for the future of environmental art. It is a warning and a celebration as stated in the exhibition introduction, “With the rapidly growing urbanization and pervasive reliance on technology, humanity is becoming more and more alienated from the biological system we are part of. Our connection to our ecosystem has become far more tenuous and many Hoosiers have become content to view nature virtually. Many also think that to see nature it is necessary to travel to the type of “exotic” locations often featured in “nature” shows on television. The growing detachment of humans from the natural world has become known as ‘nature deficit disorder’.”

    Nature stands just beyond our doorsteps, and now Indiana’s examples on our computer monitors. State of Nature has presented an engaging perspective on how to provoke a cure.

    The exhibition can be viewed online in Matterport 360 format HERE.


  • Sunday, November 01, 2020 10:23 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace November 2020 e-Newsletter is HERE

  • Tuesday, October 27, 2020 6:10 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    Earth Emotions: New Words for a New World by Glenn A. Albrecht

    Albrecht, who is an Australian professor, environmental philosopher and farmer, diagnosing the condition of despair afflicting people around the world. He coined the now widely recognized term solastalgia —a homesickness for the place you love as it is desolated before your eyes. The experience is not new or unique to our times; colonized and conquered people have experienced it throughout history. Albrecht makes clear that humans have always had to balance negative and positive emotions to survive and make sense of the world they lived in, that both types of emotions were necessary. But today the negative ones have come to dominate.

    Earth Emotions begins with an autobiography illuminating how his love of nature was cultivated by his family in south western Australia, where in the 1950s and ‘60s, he became intimate with the plants and animals surrounding his suburban home and his grandparents farm. Some of his sense of standing apart from the general consensus is linked to the fact that -- because his father has some Sri Lankan ancestry -- he was bullied for not being “white” enough. Albrecht has always felt an affinity with Aboriginal culture and focuses on some of their ancestral ways of managing the continent, which should be recognized as valuable.

    The Anthropocene world system exploits and dominates nature; it has meant the extinction of many species and looks toward our own extinction. To transcend it, Albrecht proposes a Symbiocene. This is an era of interconnectedness from which we learn and emulate processes utilized by tree-roots and micro-rhizomes and other deeply symbiotic complex systems. This, he suggests, needs to be grounded in a new spiritual paradigm. Such a paradigm would entail a relinquishment of the isolated self as the prime locus of meaning and would be grounded in affinity with all that is porous, reciprocal, integrated, and in dynamic flux, like the earth. Our bodies, he points out, are in fact a menagerie of bacteria, viruses, fungi that we incorrectly treat as an unchanging unity.

    Equal parts scientist and philosopher, Albrecht loves language and the precise and thoughtful writing here is often also poetic, threaded through with ideas from Plato, Hegel, Rudolf Steiner, Aldo Leopold, Erich Fromm, W. H. Auden and others. As the sub-title of the book suggests he is as committed to transforming our thinking as our praxis.

    In the grand tradition of fellow Australian Jeremiahs such as Helen Caldicott on nuclear weapons and Peter Singer on animal rights, Albrecht is a large-picture thinker grounded in experience and empathy. And he is absolutely right. Tragically, his detailed and rational proposals for a fundamental transformation of our material civilization and our psychological world view, seem at this moment as unlikely as world disarmament or the immediate abolition of factory farming.

    Overall, there is a bit too much creating of neologisms for my taste because I feel it can put off readers unable to take on the apparatus of new terminology. Still, his inspiring and deeply comprehensive vision is worth studying.

    Submitted by ecoartspace member Marina deBellagente LaPalma.

    LaPalma was born in Milan, Italy. She was a founder of Kelsey Street Press in Berkeley in the 1970s and a performance artist and art critic in Los Angeles in the 1980s. In the 1990s she was on the Board of The Children’s Book Project in San Francisco, a nonprofit dedicated to literacy-building in young children and served on the Menlo Park Arts Commission for five years. She was also a bookseller at Stanford University Bookstore. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

  • Sunday, October 25, 2020 10:56 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    The ecoartspace online + billboard fall 2020 exhibition titled ecoconsciousness which launched back in September with an interactive catalogue, also includes billboards placed along Interstate 49 in Missouri near the state lines of Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Over 150 artists applied to the juried show, many with the hope to be selected for the billboards. However, of the 80 artists selected by New York art critic Eleanor Heartney, only three works were chosen to be displayed for three months each. On the ground images of the billboards were recently taken, see below, along with the artists statements and information about each billboard location.

    You can view the online catalogue here.

    We still have a few print catalogues left if you would like to purchase one from our store here.


    Excerpt from the econconsciousness catalogue:

    The three billboards selected are sited in rural west and southwest Missouri along and near Interstate 49, which runs between Pineville, Missouri (10 miles north of the Arkansas border) up to Interstate 470, the beltway in Kansas City. The cities of Neosho and Monett are located in the Missouri Ozarks and were each included in The 10 Most Conservative Cities in Missouri for 2019. Archie is considered “moderately conservative,” however, the county voted Republican the last five Presidential elections and Republicans held twelve of the thirteen elected positions there as of the 2014 election. Missouri has historically been viewed as a bellwether state, although, they have not voted for a Democratic president since 1996 (Clinton). All three billboards will be up past the elections on November 3, 2020.

    Archie, MO

    Rebecca Clark

    Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?, 2017
    graphite and colored pencil on paper
    3.5 x 7 inches

    Artist Statement: My drawing “Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?” focuses on a pair penetrating pale blue eyes staring out from the half- hidden face of a wolf pup. The title, taken from Bob Dylan’s epic 1962 ballad, “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” implies a familial relationship. Within the context of the drawing, this is a human/ animal relationship and the wolf’s hard gaze is fixed firmly upon the viewer: you, me, us. What devastation did our blue-eyed son witness out there in the world? Will he, will we, survive?

    rebeccaclarkart.com


    Location: 36°48’01.3”N 94°25’12.8”W
    Interstate 49, at milemarker 21.6 southbound near Neosho, MO, Exit 20
    Billboard:
    North facing, 10.5 x 22.75 feet

    Elevation: 1,037 feet above sea level

    About Archie: Archie is a city in southern Cass County, which is part of the Kansas City metropolitan area. On August 10, 1932 a meteorite fell near Archie that received national attention. A fragment of the meteorite known as “Archie” is on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.. The population was 1,207 as of 2018. Archie was platted in 1880, and named after Archie Talmadge, the son of a railroad official. The town hosts an annual tractor pull in September.

    This area of Missouri was previously inhabited by speakers of the Dhegihan Siouan-language family: The Osage, Quapaw, Omaha, Ponca and Kansa tribes make up this sub-group. Other historical tribes in the area were Shawnee and Lenape (aka Delaware), whose tribes spoke related Algonquian languages. The Lenape had been pushed to the Midwest from their territory along the mid- Atlantic coast by continuous white encroachment. In 1818 the United States granted land to the Lenape in southern Missouri Territory, but they were forced to cede it back in 1825, after Missouri became a state. At that time, they were removed to a reservation in Kansas. Those who remained in this area were close relatives of the Sauk, Fox and Kickapoo tribes. The early camp meetings held by European-American settlers near Archie often attracted as many as 500 Indigenous peoples, in addition to Europeans. (excerpted from Wikipedia by ecoartspace)


    Neosho, MO

    Diane Best

    Iceberg, Scoresbysund, 2016
    digital photograph
    26 x 34 inches

    Artist Statement: This image was captured on a trip to remote northeast Greenland, on a 1920 Danish sailing ship with a group of 12 other photographers. The fjord system we sailed through is the deepest in the world, with many twists, turns, islands and steep cliffs. Icebergs get trapped in there, which make for captive subject matter - and the water can be as still as glass. This iceberg was out in the deeper water, and was one of the first really big ones we encountered. The photo is notable because I think it was the first time the final image came out exactly how I saw it in my head before I went out shooting! I generally come back with good images, but they are usually not what my original intention was....landscape photographers must be adaptable.

    dbestart.com


    Location: 36°48’01.3”N 94°25’12.8”W
    Interstate 49, at milemarker 21.6 southbound near Neosho, MO, Exit 20

    Billboard: North facing, 10.5 x 22.75 feet
    Elevation: 1,037 feet above sea level 

    About Neosho: Neosho is the childhood home of painter and muralist Thomas Hart Benton (1989-1975), as well as African American inventor and botanist George Washington Carver. It’s located in the Southwest corner of the Ozarks in Missouri, also known as Tornado Alley due to the cold air from the Rocky Mountains and Canada which collides with warm air from the Gulf of Mexico. It’s population is approximately 12,000 people. Founded in 1839, the name, NE-O-ZHO or NE-U-ZHU, is a Native word of Osage derivation, meaning clear or abundant water, referring to local freshwater springs. The springs attracted varying cultures of Native American inhabitants for thousands of years. White settlers who founded the city in 1833, nicknamed it “City of Springs.” Neosho claims to be the “Gateway to the Ozarks” from the west. (excerpted from Wikipedia by ecoartspace)


    Monett, MO


    L.C. Armstrong

    Peace Rose Over Eclipse, 2020
    oil on linen panel
    36 x 72 inches

    Artist Statement: For the past 20 years, my work has celebrated the natural world. As a child, I spent long summer days, in the Tennessee woods, daydreaming. These early years were influential in building my visual vocabulary. When I was nine, my family drove to California, in two pickup trucks, on Hwy 66. New landscapes now presented themselves; desert sunsets, red rock canyons, the Pacific Ocean. Like the Hudson River School painters, my works seek to highlight the sanctity of nature. In “Peace Rose Over Eclipse,” rose stems magically transform into silver guitar strings. The black disc of the eclipse also can be seen as a guitar sound hole, and rays of light reverberate from it. Music, like art, is a language we can all understand. The “Peace” rose celebrated the end of WWII. It’s sunny, optimistic burst of yellow, blushing to deep coral, signifies new beginnings, and hope for a bright future after the darkness of the eclipse.

    lcarmstrong.com


    Location: 36°53’40.1”N 93°55’17.6”W
    Hwy 37, 1.5 miles south of junction Hwy 60 in Monett, MO
    Billboard: North facing, 10.6 x 22.9 feet
    Elevation: 1,378 feet above sea level

    About Monett: Southwest Missouri is a collection of cities, towns, and communities in the heart of the Ozarks between the metropolitan areas of Joplin and Springfield and the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers in Arkansas. Monett was established in 1887 as a trading post and shipping center for the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, later known as the Frisco. Monett had a thriving fruit business and was nicknamed the “Strawberry Capital of the Midwest.” The Ozark Fruit Growers Association building (built in 1927), which is part of the Downtown Monett Historic District, is on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1894, a lynching and race riot took place in Monett before the violence spread to other southwestern Missouri towns. Monett became a sundown town, banning African Americans from living or staying there after dark, with a sign across the main street saying: "Nigger, don't let the sun go down." Missouri had the second highest number of lynchings outside the Deep South—60 between 1877 and 1950. Monett had a population of 9,124 as of 2019 and twenty churches. (excerpted from Wikipedia by ecoartspace)



  • Saturday, October 10, 2020 12:31 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    Helène Aylon (American, 1931-2020), The Earth Ambulance, 1982 ©Estate of Helène Aylon

    But Is It Ecofeminist?
    by Mary Jo Aagerstoun, PhD

    Two exhibitions of art by women opened simultaneously in June 2020 within the menacing shadow of the COVID 19 pandemic, one in Santa Fe: Performative Ecologies, curated by Patricia Watts, at the new media gallery Currents 826, on June 9, 2020, and the other in New York City: ecofeminism(s), at the Thomas Erben Gallery, curated by Monika Fabijanska, on June 16, 2020. The shows’ appearances—the audiences mainly viewed the exhibitions online—also coincided with the righteous mobilizations and demands of Black Lives Matter spilling across the US in reaction to the murder of George Floyd by police. (1)

    Neither ecofeminism(s) nor Performative Ecologies included works by Black women artists. A review of ecofeminism(s) in The Brooklyn Rail vividly underscored this absence. (2) The review’s author, Darla Migan, also asserts that an ecofeminism show foregrounding white women proved the ecofeminist movement and philosophy is “anti-intersectional” and “essentialist.” This point of view is not new and has stuck to the ecofeminist movement since its beginnings.

    It was in this context that I received Patricia Watts’s invitation to write this essay on the two exhibitions for the online cultural platform, ecoartspace.(4) As I prepared to write the review I communicated with both Watts and Monika Fabijanska, asking them how they had chosen the artworks for their shows and why they had not included works by Black woman artists.(5) They both responded with reasons for the absence of Black women artists’ work and with statements of resolve that they intended to rectify this absence as they moved forward with their respective curatorial practices. They also offered detailed descriptions of their intentions for the exhibitions and their criteria for selecting the works.

    Darla Migan's critique of Black women artists’ absence from ecofeminism(s) is legitimate and can be equally applied to Performative Ecologies. There certainly are Black women artists who address relationships with the environment in a range of ways and whose works might have fit (easily or uncomfortably) in either show. Among these are the philosophically dense abstractions and performances of Torkwase Dyson, the lyrical, landscape-based photo-narratives of Allison Janae Hamilton, and the community-embeddedness of LaToya Ruby Frazier’s 2016 Flint Project. The inclusion of Black artists’ perspectives in future exhibitions of art by women concerned with environmental damage and crises will be something to look forward to!(6)

    While an in-depth exploration of whether ecofeminist analysis is an appropriate lens through which to consider works by Black women artists concerned with environmental issues would be welcome, this essay will not elaborate on the absence of their work in these shows, aside from asserting the legitimacy of the criticism leveled by Migan. This essay will consider whether the works in these exhibitions engage ecofeminism, the relationship they might have with essentialism and whether they can be seen as deploying ritualistic characteristics to oppose and resist.

    As I began to think about all this, I wondered if the curators' intentions could be divined by considering their exhibition titles. Watts’s title, Performative Ecologies, seems gender-neutral, though all the artists in her show were women. She intentionally selected self-performative, ritualistic works where the artists appear alone (and sometimes nude) in landscapes, suggesting a possible essentialist valence that could connect with some of ecofeminism’s early tendencies to make strong, frequently celebratory linkages between biological women and the alleged feminine identity of Nature.

    Fabijanska's title, ecofeminism(s), suggests the curator intended to foreground ecofeminist politics and activism in her show. Yet, in an email to me, Fabijanska states she did not intend the show to be "a piece of theoretical writing," because she expected her audience to be unfamiliar with either feminist or ecological art.(7) She wanted instead “to emphasize certain similarities and differences, to create the energy of pluses and minuses (think batteries): shapes, textures, sizes, colors, and content” to encourage gallery visitors to think deeply about what they were seeing.

    Though Watts does not claim her exhibition engages ecofeminism, she has long pursued an interest in how artists (primarily women, but some men as well) place themselves in landscapes, alone, and in performative ways.(8) Emphasis on imagery of female artists, often nude, embedded ritualistically in landscapes, could suggest a fixed, universal—essentialist—relationship between Woman and Nature. At the same time, the artists’ intentions, or the works’ manifestations themselves, can also be seen as (directly or tangentially) political or activist.

    Active opposition to all forms of oppression has been ecofeminists’ focus throughout the evolution of the movement and its discourses. Ecofeminists point to this focus as evidence of ecofeminism’s firmly embedded history of intersectionality. Could activist, resistant, or oppositional intent or manifestation influence whether a ritualistic work is interpreted as ecofeminist, but not essentialist, even when ritualistic and spiritual aspects are dominant? What makes a work spiritual or ritualistic? And how are we to interpret works that suggest activist intent but convey this in ritualistic ways?

    Scholar of ritual Ellen Dissanayake identifies particular characteristics of ritual.(9)  She posits that ritual is characterized by “unusual behavior that sets it off from the ordinary or everyday” and that the place where ritual is enacted is “made special” by such behavior. She argues that “[t]ime, space, activity, dress, and paraphernalia are all made special or extraordinary by unusual behavior, and so we can speak of ritual time, ritual space, ritual activity, ritual dress, ritual paraphernalia. . .” Works in both shows display various combinations of these characteristics.

    For example, some artists in both exhibitions choose to perform in, or refer to, damaged and even dangerous sites or to perform potentially physically dangerous or risky acts. Such choices draw attention to these sites, clear evidence of political and activist intent. If attention is not drawn to a situation of damage, the damage may never be addressed.


    Dominique Mazeaud (French American 1942-), The Great Cleansing of the Rio Grande 1987-1994 ©Estate of Dominique Mazeaud. Courtesy of the artist

    One work of this type, in Performative Ecologies, is Dominique Mazeaud’s seven-year-long The Great Cleansing of the Rio Grande (1987-1994). Repetition and endurance are characteristics of ritual, and are foregrounded in Great Cleansing. Mazeaud’s cleanups occurred in regular monthly sequences, stretching out over years, during which her community became increasingly involved in the project. Community members joined Mazeaud regularly in urging elected officials to improve enforcement of anti-littering regulations.

    Mazeaud's Great Cleansing also spawned activist involvement after the project ended. In one of these later activist interventions, in 2001, as an act of opposition to the war in Iraq, she sent a box containing “gifts from the river,” children's shoes and other "talismanic" articles collected during an earlier Great Cleansing, to one of New Mexico's US Senators. The items referred to the deaths of thousands of children during US bombings.(10) The act of placing objects together in ways that suggest the arrangement itself has power is consonant with Dissanayake’s observations that objects become ritualized when utilized for a particular purpose that is not the objects’ original one.


    Fern Shaffer (American, 1944-), Nine Year Ritual (1995-2003), The Swamp, 9th Ritual, September 9, 2003, Cashe River Basin, Illinois © Fern Shaffer. Courtesy of the artist

    Another multiyear work in Performative Ecologies, Nine Year Ritual (1995-2003), by performance artist Fern Shaffer, a self-identifying feminist healer, took place on a succession of seriously damaged sites. The artist wore a costume suggestive of an African shaman, and the piece demonstrates several aspects of ritual as described by Dissanayake. Among the more recent works in Performative Ecologies is Mary Mattingly's Pull (2013), in which the artist, who self-identifies as an ecofeminist, first documented all her possessions, researching every detail about each item's provenance and manufacture, then gathered and bound the items into several large "boulders" and ritually pulled them, alone, through New York City's streets. In this way, Mattingly activates ritual processes of temporality and endurance to bring to sharp visibility the weight of human overconsumption and its exponentially expanding impacts on all habitats—clearly an activist intent.

    Mary Mattingly (American, 1979-), Pull, 2013 © Mary Mattingly. Courtesy of the artist

    continues here

  • Thursday, October 01, 2020 12:45 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace October 2020 e-Newsletter is HERE

  • Friday, September 18, 2020 8:56 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)
      Sue McNally stained glass sculptures embedded in the Fruitlands Museum landscape

    The Bounties of Nature Bring the Artist Visions of a Colorful Future

    Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Just an hour’s drive outside of the city of Boston/Cambridge, one finds oneself amongst rolling hills of green, colonial houses and quaint farmland. This is where the Fruitland’s Museum is situated; a museum of American art emphasizing the symbiosis of nature and artistic practice on the lands of a former utopian community developed by two writers in the mid-1800s. The flowing earth meets a cluster of historic buildings surrounded by trails of forest interwoven with artworks.


    Jane Marsching in her apron at the beginning of the walk

    Then, meet Jane Marsching, dressed in a handmade futuristic apron of dark blue, neon green and silver with glittering trim. She stands as a proclamation toward self-sufficient, net-zero artistry in defiance of inhumane and ecologically unsound supply chains. Jane quotes the “New Eden” community of Alcott & Lane who originally founded Fruitland’s. By provoking the group of 10 gatherers who surround her toward the urgent need for future thinking during this Age of the Anthropocene, she hopes they will overcome a paralysis of growth toward a more positive and constructive future.

    Ink foraging backpack with original typographical woodblocks and Solar oven cooking bark ink

    Exhibited in the main hall is her backpack with invented Helvetica-based typography printing blocks, gathering vestibules and ladder. The backpack was originally meant as a communal activity to carry through the woods, no one person carrying the weight alone. She “takes folx into the forest to dream and print radical imaginings of what is possible” while leading the group on various meditative and ink-making activities. Outside of the farmhouse of Fruitland’s, she has made a solar oven to create her inks with gathered rainwater, foraged materials from the lands and an enamel pot as an open-air ink making lab.


    Printed banner hangs in yellow trail and Marsching’s results of site-specific ink samples

    Her inks, foraged with care, are created using materials from the landscape. They include wild grapes, sumac, barks and pokeberries. Jane reminds the group of the importance of gathering only what has fallen, the plants which are weeds, and no more than 10% of the available plant matter at one time to ensure regrowth and abundance. The large banners, which hang in various areas around the museum’s grounds read quotes from contemplative texts such as, “We are dreaming of a time when the land might give thanks to the people” and speak towards a sustainable vision of the often bleakly presented future.
        

    Jane Marsching explains the rules of sustainable foraging

    Jane insists on an ephemeral practice. By using natural inks that are light sensitive and wear in the weather they are exposed to, she emphasizes work that grows out of the relationship with time, place and humans. Her goal is to influence this particular moment rather than a moment 50 years from now.

    Forest meditation under Jane Marsching hand-printed banner

    Yet, as we gather together on the forest floor, amongst strangers in person for the first time in over half a year, and meditate to the sounds of chirping, birdsongs, wind passing through leaves and machine gun practice ranges, there is a resounding influence taking place. Jane guides us to listen with intention and think about a hopeful future. It is a call to creative arms, to dream larger than the boundaries that inhibit this vision; to ideate in order to activate.

    Close up of yellow trail forest

    The work is not ephemeral at all. Instead, the effects of existing together and reimagining the future transforms a time of challenge and turns it into an intellectual pursuit. Each moment counts to create that different future 50 years come, the trees themselves, will stand as witnesses to the choices that are made next. 

  • Tuesday, September 01, 2020 11:42 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace September 2020 e-Newsletter is HERE

  • Thursday, August 27, 2020 8:41 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The domestic and the global: Emma Nicolson on how the arts will be at the heart of Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

    interview by Chris Fremantle

    Originally posted on the eco/art/scot/land website August 8, 2020.

    Emma Nicolson, Head of Creative Programmes, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (photo courtesy of RGBE)

    Emma Nicolson, Head of Creative Programmes, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), kindly agreed to be interviewed for ecoartscotland. The interview happened by email during July 2020 and is focused by the reinvention of Inverleith House as ‘Climate House’, moving beyond the 20th century idea of the gallery as ‘white cube’ and reconnecting with the context of the Botanic Gardens. This new approach is happening alongside a collaboration with the Serpentine Galleries in London, developed as a result of match-making by Outset Partners.

    Chris Fremantle (CF): Can you tell us a bit about what Inverleith House will be like once it is ‘Climate House’?

    Emma Nicolson (EN): We are confronting a pivotal moment in the role of the arts within Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). Climate House reimagines Inverleith House as a gallery for the 21st century, igniting a new arts strategy across the Garden, and establishing RBGE as a visionary institution within Climate Crisis.

    This marks the beginning of a three-year vision for Climate House which will act as a pilot project to be reviewed after that time. It’s underpinned by ‘By Leaves We Survive’, a new arts strategy for Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. We are focusing on the ‘21st century explorer’, inspiring discoveries between artists, scientists, horticulturists, scholars, activists, entrepreneurs, policymakers and visitors and local communities.

    Ellie Harrison, Early Warning Signs, 2011, installed outside Inverleith House 2020

    The Climate Crisis (and the pandemic) isn’t the first crisis for RBGE. RBGE was established in 1670 during an era of famine, plague and witch trials, by two physicians Robert Sibbald and Andrew Balfour. Their vision was to create a garden that would supply the apothecaries and physicians of Edinburgh with medicinal plants to help improve the wellbeing of the people of Edinburgh.

    Now, four centuries later, our vision is to transform Inverleith House into Climate House  – an institute for ecology at the edge, reconnecting our gallery both to its roots as a centre for medical innovation and its future as a hub that will  promote the synergy between art and science as we face one of the most significant challenges of the 21 century.

    Climate House will be an intimate place for contemporary art that is embedded within the natural world. The physical manifestation of Climate House is not set in stone, conceptually it will be a place to explore the future of our planet through art. 

    CF: What will we experience?

    EN: My vision for Climate House is that it will be a place you want to dwell in, as soon as you step into the building you get a sense of a warm welcome, a sense of home for art.


    Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

    For those not familiar with Inverleith House, it has a rich history of displaying modern and contemporary art. Originally built as a house for Sir James Rocheid, a prominent agriculturalist of the 19th Century.  The house and a portion of his land was sold to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in 1877. The house then became the home to the Regis Keeper of the gardens. In 1960, the house was turned into the inaugural home of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and in 1986 it became the official art gallery of the Botanic Garden developing a renowned exhibition programme of contemporary and botanical art.

    Despite Inverleith House’s deep historic relationship to the gardens it has become untethered from the organisation’s wider activities in recent years. Isolated in part by the 20th Century approach to displaying contemporary art. We want to move on from the ‘white cube’ of yesteryear, taking a different tack that reconnects the house to its surroundings, but also to transform the house into a gallery fit for the pressures and urgent challenges of the 21st century. The most pressing of which is the Climate Crisis. Inverleith House’s proximity to the world of plants; the richness of scholarship, inquiry and praxis associated with RGBE means we have resources at our disposal to begin to think about the role of a gallery in the age of Climate Crisis. Art and culture have a valuable and important part to play in linking objects, images, processes, people, locations, histories and discourse in a physical space to open up dialogues and imaginaries that we see as critical to connecting audiences to this crisis.

    Our plan is to work with artists like Christine Borland, Cooking Sections, and Keg de Souza to transform Inverleith House into a Climate House and create a new vision. Inverleith House is a house in a botanic garden; a garden made for explorers of the past. We want to transform Inverleith House into a home. A home for the 21st century explorer. This explorer listens to the voices less heard, refuses to conform to the boundary between culture and nature, and is willing to imagine ways of living for the future.

    Continue reading HERE

    Submitted by ecoartspace member Chris Fremantle, Scotland.

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