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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  • Monday, December 06, 2021 9:00 AM | Callie Smith (Administrator)

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    December 6, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Erika Blumenfeld.

    "In April of 2011, after seven months without rainfall, the Rock House Fire ignited in Marfa and raged across the beautiful landscape of far West Texas, devastating the region’s environment. I was living in Marfa at that time and, in those weeks while the wildfire reigned, I began collecting material from the burned landscape—carbonized trees, cacti, dirt, animal bones, grasses—and photographed the charred remains and blackened earth."

    Graphite & Charcoal Trees: Las Conchas Wildfire (New Mexico 2011), 2013

    "I followed those devastating wildfires throughout the summer of 2011 to Arizona and New Mexico, again in 2012 during the wildfire season in New Mexico and Colorado and finally in 2013’s season in New Mexico. I have documented five major wildfires across of the southwest in this way, gathering burned material from the Rock House Wildfire (Texas 2011), the Wallow Wildfire (Arizona 2011), the Las Conchas Wildfire (New Mexico 2011), the Waldo Canyon Wildfire (Colorado 2012) and the Silver Wildfire (New Mexico, 2012)."

    Left: Wildfire Paintings, 2012; Right: An Offering to Stolen Nature, 2012

    "For the Wildfire Paintings, I hand-grind the burned debris into a fine carbon pigment and then adhere it to a gilded-edged panel, allowing the raw material to sit on the surface. Each wildfire pigment varies slightly depending on each location’s indigenous flora and fauna as well as how hot the fire burned. In the Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado wildfires the highly iridescent sheen across the surface of the black carbon tells the story of a very hot fire fueled by burning timber. In contrast, the Texas wildfire consists mainly of grasses and dirt and so the pigment is more matte and slightly brown in tone."

    An Offering to Stolen Nature, 2012, and Charred Earth: Rock House Wildfire (Marfa, Texas 2011), 2012

    "For the installation, An Offering to Stolen Nature, I filled hand-hammered Tibetan song bowls with charred trees, grasses, pine cones, and pine needles and displayed them alongside burned volcanic rocks, animal bones and cacti. All of these materials were collected from areas that were private, state, or federal land. At each location that I gathered debris, I was at some point evicted from the land, and in one case was asked to put back the burned material I had collected. This piece considers the innate sacredness of nature alongside the human desire to own or manage the land, exploring the question: has our land ownership in one sense stolen the land from nature? In stealing it back, the piece intends to re-sacralize nature beyond our possession of it.

    In the photographic works, I documented the thick smoke of the active fires and the blackened landscape in the aftermath of fire’s blaze.

    These works become forensic evidence of the crime of anthropogenic climate disruption - they are a eulogy to the wildfires, and homage to the nature they consumed. Yet, as carbon is both the building block of all life and is itself an artifact of light, these works also intend to look to the regeneration that is possible as we look for solutions."

    Blackened Forest: Las Conchas Wildfire (New Mexico 2011), 2013

    Erika Blumenfeld is a transdisciplinary artist whose practice is motivated by the wonder of natural phenomena and the relationship between nature and culture. A Guggenheim and Smithsonian Fellow, Blumenfeld approaches her work like an archivist, driven by a passion to trace and collect the evidence and stories of connection across the cosmos. Blumenfeld often works in collaboration with scientists and research institutions, including NASA, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, McDonald Observatory, and the South African National Antarctic Program. The photo and video-based works, installations, paintings, drawings, sculptures, writing and data science visualizations that result from her artistic investigations are the artifacts that express her inquiries’ reflections and weave an equally conceptual and formalist intent. Blumenfeld lives and works in Houston, Texas. erikablumenfeld.com

    Featured Images: ©Erika Blumenfeld, Wildfires series 

    Header: Smoke: Las Conchas Wildfire (Los Alamos, New Mexico 2011), 2012


  • Thursday, December 02, 2021 9:41 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    Shape Shifting, porcelain, 50 x 52 x 22 cm, 2020

    Interview by Blaire Dessent

    TL Magazine, Landscape’ Autumn–Winter 2021

    TLmag: While your work deals with ecological concerns of the planet, there is a  particular connection with the sea and coastline. Where does your interest in this come from?

    Harriet Hellman: I have always been drawn to the sea and coast, finding it a rich source of inspiration. My connection to the elements embeds itself in my making, both physically and emotionally. I am particularly drawn to wild coastlines, such as the Atlantic coast of North Devon where the ceaseless cycle of the natural elements and the engagement of time on the landscape, creates a visceral response in me which is both immediate and meditative.

    I find clay to be the perfect medium to express my ideas, using the tide and the cyclical movement of time as a convergence of thought and action. I am not looking for answers but enjoy the freedom and spontaneity of the journey, exploring hunches, experimenting with form and responding intuitively to the atmosphere and conditions of the moment. I would love to live on the coast but my family and work are in London, so I make sure I visit often, taking a car-full of clay and art materials and my camera, sometimes digging wild clay from the beach to bring back to the studio.

    The shifting tidal seascapes and the environmental impact of erosion and tidal destruction are all too evident on the south coast of the UK. Tidal barriers have been swept away and the coastline is constantly changing, serving to remind me of the power of nature and our powerlessness to control it. My work reflects my thinking around this as I let go of my unfired ceramics into the oncoming tide, surrendering it to the sea. The process of filming, painting, sculpting, collecting, interacting with the inter-tidal zone and documenting eroded coastal spaces, creates a visceral response in me, celebrating impermanence and imperfection.

    I am striving to capture place, space and time and the energy of the moment. Creating, intimate, ephemeral narratives with clay on the coast. This deliberate communing with nature, means letting go, and hoping for unexpected and transformed, ‘gifts from the sea’. Ceramic residues are fired , completing this alchemical exchange.


    Tipping Point, stoneware, porcelain, wood fired, 23 x 12 x 65 cm, 2020

    TLmag: You started making ceramics once you had already begun a separate career path. When and how did you get started working in ceramic? Were you doing something else artistic or was this a big shift?

    H.H.: I received a BA in Fine Art Sculpture and then followed a career as a prop maker and Art Director in the film and TV industry both here and abroad. I loved the work, but the hours were long and once I had a young family I was not seeing my children enough. A friend suggested I take an evening class in pottery, so I enrolled and was immediately hooked. I reduced my working hours and undertook a part time HND in Ceramics at my local Higher Education College, then decided to rent a studio and continue Ceramics in a full-time  capacity. My dream was to study an MA at the Royal College of Art, so I was delighted to gain a place to study there in 2018, this experience gave me the confidence to consider myself a professional Ceramic Sculptor.

    TLmag: As you started going further with clay, was it then when you saw a link to landscapes and the sea or were you already looking for the right medium to convey ideas and concepts you had wanted to explore?

    H.H.: I find the elements of water, earth, air and fire in ceramics, and the transformative power that these afford exciting and challenging. Clay is a material of change from one state to another and this gives me the opportunity to facilitate transformation, while reflecting on the balance and fragility of the geological landscape. I see clay as the conduit between myself and the natural world through the process of layering, tearing and building.

    The concept of letting go of the outcome and surrendering it to the elements was a response to seeing the effect of coastal erosion on the geology of the shoreline and my belief that everything is connected. Not only is clay a particularly suitable material to express those concerns, being of the earth, but the final fired form of the ceramic sculptures evoke geological formations. The deep history of the land feeds directly into the work it inspires. The title of ‘Anthropocene’ points to my concern for ecological fragility, which is powerfully present and concerning in coastal erosion and rising sea levels.


    Perspectives of Time, stoneware, porcelain, 38 x 40 x 20 cm, 2020

    TLmag: Would you talk about your process? It’s incredible how each piece seems as if it was peeled away by time  and nature so organically, the surfaces so textured.

    H.H.: I layer many different clays together in the studio, bringing to mind the layers of geological strata in the landscape. These layers are eroded and revealed when the work is left exposed on the shore or when the work is torn, scarred and peeled back in the studio. The pebbles, sand and seaweed imprint themselves into the work, which is then fired, embedding into the surface layer. Tearing up the layers of clay ignites an emotional and physical connection in me, embedding memories of the coast into the form and surface which is worn, torn and scarred. I multi fire and add layers of glaze until I am satisfied with the surface texture and colour, and intuitively know that the work is finished.

    TLmag: You recently had a residency in Denmark. How was this experience on your work? You developed a new way of firing?

    H.H.: My experience at Guldagergaard International Ceramic research centre in Denmark was very positive. I was able finish the work I had been doing on my MA in London, which had been suspended due the pandemic in March 2020. The studio was open 24hours a day and I was able to work with no distractions in a supportive environment with other International artists. I was also introduced to wood firing and soda firing, which were new for me and I found it really suited my work. I have continued with this method of firing whenever I get the opportunity.

    Recently I sailed around the South Coast of the UK with Sail Britain as an artist-in-residence, looking at the marine environment from diverse perspectives. A cross disciplinary crew from creative and scientific back grounds took part, studying environmental issues such as marine aquaculture, plastic pollution , climate change, and eroding coastlines. Highlighting the cultural importance of our relationship with the sea and the connection between ecological issues and society. This experience was invaluable to my practise and I hope to continue exploring opportunities to broaden my understanding of the natural world in the
    future.


    Uncertain Rhythm, stoneware, porcelain, 24 x 30 x 12 cm, 2020

    TLmag: How do you explore, as it says on your website, ‘human’ time vs ‘deep’ time, in your work? What does this mean exactly?

    H.H.: Scales of time are most evident to me when I am at the coast, when considering the ecological fragility of the ocean and the geology of the coastline. The contrast between millennial geological timescales and ephemeral human timescales, reflecting on the micro and macro is particularly present when I am working and responding to the coastal landscape. Considering the Anthropocene, the current geological age where human impact has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment makes me consider the scale of human time versus that of deep time. Recognizing our interconnectedness to the earth and the balance and fragility of our place within it is evident in my making, accepting transience and imperfection. Letting go, surrendering and appreciating the moment, stimulates my thoughts and heightens my awareness, opening new possibilities and directions in my work.

    This connection to the coastal environment is what drives my practice and I feel it most when experiencing the rawness of the Atlantic coast.


    London based ceramic artist Harriet Hellman is deeply inspired and influenced by wild coastlines, tides, erosion and the sea. She creates layered sculptural ceramic objects that feel as if they’ve been stripped by time and the natural elements, which in some cases they have as she often immerses her unfired pieces into the tides and films the experience of its effects on the object. Curved forms that suggest waves or shells, specks of sand and minerals compacted within cracked white glaze, flecks of colour or charred surfaces, the work seems to be influx, as if it was still on a journey within the sea and its current state is only momentary, an unexpected treasure discovered with delight yet holding secrets to harsher realities of the Anthropocene.


    Hellman was shortlisted for the Sustainability First prize in 2021.
    harriethellman.co.uk
    @harriet_ceramics

  • Wednesday, December 01, 2021 9:54 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace December 2021 e-Newsletter is here

  • Wednesday, December 01, 2021 2:18 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    In the Beginning There Was Only Water II, 5 ft. x 5 ft., acrylic and mixed media on paper, 2020

    In the Beginning There Was Only Water

    by Joan Sullivan

    While some of us taught ourselves to bake sourdough bread or to mend socks during the pandemic, the American painter and arts writer Susan Hoffman Fishman plunged herself into her studio and emerged, a year later, with a revised creation story.

    The result: a magnificent, nearly 50-foot (15 meters) opus entitled In The Beginning There Was Only Water.

    Currently on exhibit at the Five Points Gallery in Torrington, Connecticut through December 19, 2021, In The Beginning There Was Only Water reframes the biblical creation myth – in which “man” was granted “dominion” over all the Earth’s plants and animals – into a new, non-human-centric story.

    Posted November 22, 2021, Artists & Climate Change blog

    Continue reading here



  • Wednesday, December 01, 2021 10:59 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)



    (Interplanetary Hearing Device)

    Interview with Tosca Hidalgo y Terán by Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Tosca Hidalgo y Terán is an internationally exhibited and recognized creator of interactive environments and objects that provide shared experiences surrounding topics of entanglement and interconnectedness. Using her unique perspective on the world and the magic that lives within it, she has employed engineering and technologies to tackle often difficult topics. Her work creating musical collaborations with mycelium has led to incredible insights into the consciousness and interconnectedness of the world around us all.


    Hi Tosca, I am so excited to interview you this month. Can we dig right into your interactive musical collaborations with mycelium? You even mention that the mycelium reacts differently to different people.

    I believe fungi are sentient, have cognition. Perhaps, too this sentience or awareness is more expansive than human due to its very nature. Mycelium consistently generates periodic patterns that are both enigmatic and very musical. For reasons that I do not fully understand, Mycelium reacts to the proximity of some people more than others—growing more frenetic or more harmonic or completely silent when humans are present.

    In 2019 while I was a resident bio-artist during a MOCA Toronto and Ontario Science Centre partnership, MOCA offered resident artists a 500+ square foot studio in their building. Also, on the 3rd floor of MOCA central sat the Akin artist’s studio spaces and once or twice a month, they would hold open studio events. During one such occasion, fellow Alien Agency Collective artists Joel Ong, Nicole Clouston, and I opened our temporary bio-art studio to the public to share our various research in progress. My Mycelium, Martian Dome project, sponsored by Ecovative Design, Moog Audio, and The Brothers Dressler. I had a massive sound system set up for this open studio, synthesizers connected to living mycelium I had sculpted into the shape of a brain. The Myco-brain contained inside a plexiglass case with electrodes threaded through holes; this case was covered in black cloth. There was also a greenhouse set-up that housed large mushroom bags and Petri dishes of growing Ganoderma lucidum, Pleurotus ostreatus and djamor, Stropharia rugosoannulata and Armillaria mellea.

    (Symbiosis/Dysbiosis, Remote Residencies)

    Guests would enter the studio and hear an ambient mycelium soundscape playing. Rapid, chaotic shifts in the soundscape made it quite obvious the fungi were responding to the people. Children picked up on this quickly and started to play with this interactivity. They would run-up to the Myco-brain and then run out of the space. The adults in the room did not know what to make of this, were the fungi responding to vibrations?  Then, quite abruptly, the soundscape stopped playing. At that moment, everyone turned towards the entrance to see a man standing there. To be fair to this person, I have no idea what they were experiencing or going through; there was an aggressive, Joker is wild, air about them. They frantically walked into the studio space and made a bee-line for the greenhouse. I asked them to please refrain from opening it, but I would happily open it if they wanted to see inside. Before I could finish my sentence, they cut me off aggressively, yelling, “Why, is the monster in there?!” Chuckling, I replied, I am just cautious about contamination, and with that, they wildly moved through the studio space and out the door. In the exact moment they crossed the threshold, the soundscape started back up, and everyone in the studio gasped.

    One couple left saying that this entirely freaked them out, the mushroom going silent to come back to life then. Now, sure this may have been a curious coincidence, but I don’t think it was. During my Primordia installation at Grow-Op 2019, where I installed an unground mycelium cave in a historic hotel room, similar occurrences took place where people would affect the mycelium - without touching it!

    (Detail View of Forest UnderSound 2021)

    Holy Moly! That's truly unbelievable. And the work continues: in your monthly podcast you share your recent interactions with mycelium. What have you noticed over the course of this work in different spaces?

    I’ve been very fortunate to receive invitations to residencies abroad pre-pandemic which brought me to the Southern Hemisphere (Australia and New Zealand). Different seasons offer different fungi. I also cultivate various mycelium so when I am home or at my studio over the winter there is always fungi growing nearby. ;) Trees are a different story.


    (Exhibition View of Forest UnderSound 2021)


    And can you discuss a bit about how it is made? What are the technical components that are necessary to create these interactions?

    The Symbiosis/Dysbiosis project, generously supported by the Goethe-Institute Montreal, Canada Arts and Toronto Arts councils, is a fully immersive, mixed reality, participatory experience working with living mycelium biodata-sonification within a VR environment. I am collaborating with media artist Allison Moore collecting photogrammetry point clouds scanned from coastal rainforests and Canadian Boreal Forest regions to visualize the VR environment. Projection-mapped floor and wall(s) around the VR space allow visitors within the installation, outside of the VR forests, to interact with the point cloud visuals by stepping on pressure-sensitive mats and touching the projection-mapped surfaces. These actions send data into the VR environment representing an impact within the forest. Living mycelium from locally cultivated fungi responds to the installation's human presence while creating a generative soundscape. Human EEG/PPG/EDA/GSR influences each "player's" VR experience.

    (Exhibition View Chaos Fungorum, 2018)


    Sonically speaking, I've been working with various purpose-built circuits to detect micro-fluctuations in conductivity, translating this activity in real-time to MIDI notes and controls or voltage control signals.

    The primary concept involves visualizing interactions between human and non-human microbiota and the shared environment through macro visualizations of the microbial life on us, around us in the air, trees, fungi, pollen, pollutants. Collaborator and neuroscientist Brendan Lehman has developed code that integrates biodata readings captured in real-time into the virtual environment. Specifically, we are developing for the OpenBCI and Emotibit platforms. I've been awarded an artist research residency at the Coalesce Centre for Biological Art with Dr. Paul Vanouse. During this residency, mycelium is grown and observed using SEM, AFM and Confocal microscopy. This imagery is being captured and integrated into the VR experience of Sym/Dys. I am looking forward to jumping into the mycelium network on a microbial level. Sonically speaking, I've been working with various purpose-built circuits to detect micro-fluctuations in conductivity, translating this activity in real-time to MIDI notes and controls or voltage control signals. MIDI and control voltage enables me to patch directly into my analog and digital synthesizers, creating a mycelial network soundscape. One of the bio-sonification modules I build comes from engineer Sam Cusumano of Electricity for Progress. Initially, I purchased a PCB and a few electrical components from Manuel Domke, who also shared a schematic and Arduino code with me back in 2017. Before that, I was building my touch sensors towards "listening" to various mycelium.

    Your work with mycelium goes beyond musical collaboration, but also into creating vegan leather-alternatives by growing the mushrooms directly into form. Can you describe this process and where this is leading?  

    Admittedly, this research took a bit of a back-burner status over the pandemic. Though I have been consulting several artists towards sculpting, forming, and growing their own pellicles with mycelium. First cultivating their own and then expanding upon that. One project involves developing large, mycelium-covered surfaces that will act like an artist’s canvas’ to explore how the mycelium might remediate paint - the artist works in acrylic and oils, sometimes watercolours. Another consult is growing hollow sculptural forms with an assistant prof at York University to house electronics that work with IoT devices taking readings from a nearby Ontario forest.  

    You mention that the pandemic has influenced your practice. Can you expand on this please?

    With the pandemic and restrictions, my retreating into the forest primarily took shape in the virtual. More time to focus on sound creations, 3D work (3D, VRML, QTVR, and HTML is something I was very much into when I lived in New Mexico in the ’90s), and exploring haptic sensors and solenoid-based projects. I was fortunate with the Mycorrhizal Rhythm Machine installation at New Adventures in Sound Art as it included a short residency at their northern Ontario resort, several kilometres from Algonquin Park and next to Deer Lake. Algonquin Park is simply breathtaking, and there is a lot to explore fungi-wise. I collected a lot of biodata and field recordings of the Dawn Chorus while there.

    (Still from Nanopod, Pascal Perich)

    Your early work involves using glass and metals to sculpt wearable objects depicting your dreams and thoughts about decay. How does your relationship and workflow with such solid forms contrast to the fluid, living musical and interactive space work?

    Many of my past metal and glass works involved soundscapes. Imagining the sounds of the worlds and environments where such objects come from or dwell. Descent to Perelandra, Orbis Tertius and An UnNatural History are bodies of metal and glass works (some wearable) that explored soundscapes and immersive installation. I’ve been revisiting metal and glass projects from 2004, where I started to incorporate various Bone conductance output and touch capacitance. Glass is an incredible medium for this because you can embed metals into molten glass. Burnish gold and fine silver onto the surface of hot-glass, or fume metals onto glass, grow metal onto the Glass through Electro-forming; there are a lot of potentials. Incorporating living fungi adds yet another reactive element.

    (An UnNatural History, Metal and Glass)

    There are a lot of potentials. Incorporating living fungi adds yet another reactive element.

    In the video “Nanopod”, you talk about your dreams and relationship to death. What do you decide to bring into this world from those dreams and what are some of your hopes for the work?

    When I was a child, I had recurring nightmares that involved a family member that would transform (not be who I had thought they were) and try to take my life multiple times every night I went to sleep. These nightmares began and lasted from ages 3 to late teens. The family member in my nightmares was similar to a vampire yet, not a vampire. These were also flying dreams; armies of flying skeletons would arrive to take me away. Much later in life, I would learn that this person showing up in my nightmares suffered from postpartum depression, heard voices, and had considered taking my life. That is a lot to carry, both for myself and definitely for the person being my mother.  As a young person and artist, I wanted to understand the "darker" aspects of nature, psychological, mythical, occult and these ideas and nightmares made their way into my work.

    (Still from Nanopod, Pascal Perich)

    As a young person and artist, I wanted to understand the "darker" aspects of nature, psychological, mythical, occult and these ideas and nightmares made their way into my work.

    Later in life, I had two near-death experiences from ectopic pregnancies. A particular work that truly manifested "Motherhood" for me was, Inside Incubus. Inside Incubus was a web narrative and a physical work I built to combat sorrow, poor self-image, and dragons, if you will. The metal-made physical version was interestingly very popular with people; it received fan mail and poems! The web narrative began with an animated paper doll version of myself, which divided into twins after a while and led visitors deeper into the forest (mind) through visuals and sounds. Visitors traveled either the left-hand path or the right. With the virtual death of fabulous flash-based websites, Inside Incubus was archived. I've considered revisiting it and creating an updated VR version that would now, I suppose, start venturing into the Crone

    Thank you for sharing, your story is incredibly touching. You have such a unique and magical perspective on the world. How have your multiple cultural influences (Mexican, German, Canadian, etc) helped form this perspectice?

    Dia de Los Muertos always held an appeal to me. My grandfather would bring me marionettes from Mexico; skeletons, animals, strange characters, along with chocolate-covered ants! I have learned a lot about my father's family later in life. My paternal grandparents wanted me to learn Spanish and more about their culture/my culture, while unfortunately, my father lived through a lot of racism that his parents did not experience. So, I did not grow up speaking Spanish at home. My grandparents and father also did not practice Catholicism. There's a long story regarding family name changes during the Spanish inquisition and a great-great uncle's head being removed. Fidel Castro is (was?) a relative. So, there certainly is a lot to draw from, familially and culturally speaking.

    Science Fiction and Fantastical worlds inspired me, and now I guess my love of SciFi and electronic and classical music continues through more bio-art explorations.

    I look at Scandinavian, Germanic, Celt land-wise on my maternal side, but I feel more connected to my father, and everything unsaid. But how any of this informs my work, I am uncertain. Childhood dreams of transforming into different shapes; machine and animal. I would then describe driving vehicles with windscreens like televisions (it was the '70s, and I was 5). I was visiting different worlds, both extraterrestrial and subterranean. Unlike my peers, I repeatedly listened to Klaus Schulze, Tomita and experiencing films like Planet Sauvage, Silent Running, Heavy Metal magazine, and Giger's Necronomicon had a significant impact. Science Fiction and Fantastical worlds inspired me, and now I guess my love of SciFi and electronic and classical music continues through more bio-art explorations. My musical tastes have remained constant; only now, along with my partner, I create the electronic soundscapes.

    Lastly, in “creating artwork to raise awareness,” what do you want your audience to take away from interacting with your spaces? What are the most pressing issues of today for you and the work that you create?  

    There is seemingly more awareness and sensitivity towards your particular interests and focus when you are an artist. In my instance, this involves the shared environment through nonhuman kinships and entanglements. Human communication is tricky. People often do not tell the truth or hide, or worse, they blame other people for their problems. I am not feeling better or more aware than other folks by sharing this. It is simply vital to know who you work with and their motivations. The COVID-19 Pandemic certainly affected all life, and bringing more awareness to this remains essential. It is unfortunate to be shouting at the air.

    (Jokulsarlon Chopines Beast, Metal and Glass)

    I am creating spaces and object-based experiences that open memories, that perhaps ground people into the now, that make slight adjustments to human-centric beliefs and movement.

    When I wrote, creating artwork to raise awareness, this is multi-faceted because it also pertains to myself as a human. Over the years, I have met people utterly moved to tears by my work, by spaces I have created and shared. Over the Pandemic, I have had time to reflect on this and ask what moved them, what brought on the emotional response? I would like to believe that I am not merely creating more content. I am creating spaces and object-based experiences that open memories, that perhaps ground people into the now, that make slight adjustments to human-centric beliefs and movement. Maybe this is what brings on the empathic responses. When I am conceptualizing, I am not thinking how the work might affect people or make money or anything other than simply creating the work, which is the prime objective.

    I am devastated by all the hate and trolling. How Indigenous and Black identifying people are treated, disrespected and killed. Perhaps naively, I believe sharing immersive experiences of how connected and entangled we all are might offer a course correction or, at best, a reprieve from the doom scrolling.

    Thank you so much for your time, Tosca. This has been a truly touching and inspiring interview!


  • Tuesday, November 30, 2021 3:28 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    When ecology meets art, you get a dating site for trees

    by Anne Brice, Berkeley News

    November 19, 2021

    In 2015, as a Ph.D. student at UC Santa Cruz, Juniper Harrower was planning to go back to Costa Rica, where she’d been working in the cloud forests to study patterns of forest regeneration. But then she learned something — something heart-wrenching — that would change the path of her research.

    “Scientists had just found out that Joshua trees were really impacted by climate change and could be gone from the National Park within 100 years,” said Harrower. “When I read that, it was such a gut punch.”

    Harrower grew up in Joshua Tree National Park — a vast, protected area in Southern California, home to thousands of twisted, spiky Joshua trees. And hearing that the iconic species was in jeopardy, Harrower felt she had to do something.

    “It started this whole trajectory of thinking about what species were really crucial for Joshua trees and how those interactions might change with the changing climate,” she said.

    Berkeley News spoke with Harrower, now a first-year master’s student in UC Berkeley’s Department of Art Practice, about the power of art and science to spur social change and why she started a dating site for Joshua trees.

    Berkeley News: You got your Ph.D. in environmental studies with a focus in ecoart from UC Santa Cruz in 2019, and now, you’re a first-year master’s student in the Department of Art Practice at UC Berkeley. What brought you to Berkeley?

    Juniper Harrower: My background is in ecology, and I’ve spent the last eight years working as an environmental artist. I got my bachelor’s degree in plant biology from Berkeley, where I talked my way into some art classes. I was kind of jumping between science research and having a really visible art practice. I continued to have a very present art practice at UC Santa Cruz, where I created and still teach science art classes. I left Santa Cruz with a Ph.D. in environmental studies, but madly, madly in love with art.

    At Berkeley, I’m thinking about how an arts practice that is connected to ecological research can impact social change.

    Berkeley has such an incredible art department. There’s a very strong post-colonialist framework that people are working from, and I’m looking forward to having those conversations and dismantling some of my science background. To have the incredible privilege of making art for two years with the support of an art practice committee is such a dream.

    Continue interview with Juniper Harrower here


  • Tuesday, November 30, 2021 10:06 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Documentation of moving the installation Becoming with: A rizomatic solar cart through the streets of New Orleans, 2019. Photo by Claire Bangser.

    Message and Method: Hannah Chalew

    Interview by Louis Bury

    In her short documentary video The Push (2019), artist Hannah Chalew, her mother, and four other women artist friends wheel Chalew’s approximately 11 × 5 × 8-foot mobile artwork, Becoming with: A rhizomatic solar cart (2019), from her New Orleans studio to her residency at Longue Vue House and Gardens, a three-mile trip. The cart resembles a lean-to whose sloped solar panels serve as a roof beneath which lies a functional water tank atop a bench-like platform. The group hauls the plucky cart across lots and fields, past intersections and cemeteries; but most of the trip takes place on roads in the midst of car traffic, which makes their cheerful caravan appear as out of place as a horse and buggy would on a highway.

    This incongruous image is apt for an artist whose practice explores what it looks like to be partially alienated from the place in which you live while also having deep connections to it. Chalew’s dazzling maximalist drawings of southern Louisiana environs depict vistas in which realistic, above-ground terrain (trees in a park; a quiet suburban street) possess surrealistic, below-ground roots (an inverted petrochemical plant; a dense network of pipes in a toxic landfill). Her uncanny sculptures—sci-fi entanglements of plants, pipes, and plastics—also estrange the viewer’s perspective by positing a future in which abandoned human structures have yielded to debris-strewn flora. Through her community-oriented activism and art, and with a DIY ethos, Chalew makes past and present injustices visible so that the future might become something other than more of the same.

    —Louis Bury


    Go to BOMB interview here

  • Monday, November 29, 2021 11:02 AM | Callie Smith (Administrator)


    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    November 29, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Vaughn Bell.

    Featured is her project "All the Rivers in the World, Tacoma," from 2019, awarded by the Washington State Arts Commission in partnership with the University of Washington, Tacoma.

    Members of the UWT community participated in this public art piece with the following prompt:

    Think about rivers: the rivers you know, remember, and are connected to. Where has the water flowed in the places of your childhood and your current home? What is the name of your river? Write it in the language most meaningful to you.

    After drawing and writing the name of their river, community members were invited to make objects using clay mixed with sediment from the Puyallup River. This tactile activity was meant to encourage a peaceful, meditative moment and sense of connection to the local landscape.

    Before the railroad cut the “prairie line” across this stretch of land, other lines coursed this way: the paths of creeks, streams and rivers leading to Puget Sound, footpaths and game trails. The Puyallup River, our local river, is the original line and continues as life-line. Its name is also the name of the original people of this place.

    “All the Rivers in the World, Tacoma” is a public art project that reflects on the Puyallup river as life line and connector. It also emerges from the current life of Tacoma and the University: as a cosmopolitan place, home to many immigrants, people from all over the world. This idea has a precedent even before this site was a university. According to the historic assessment of the Prairie Line Trail, “More than half of Tacoma’s residents were immigrants by the early 1900s.” These immigrants came from all over the world and many worked in the buildings that now house the university. Now, students, faculty and staff continue to come from many places to be part of this community.

    All of the river names included in the piece were given to the artwork by members of this community. The design of the river form itself is based on the shapes of real rivers. The resulting shapes reflect actual shapes of some of the rivers named in the piece. This hybrid river combines many river forms and shapes.

    The Lushootseed words were included in the work with the approval of the Puyallup Tribal Council and the collaboration of UWT faculty member and Tribal Liaison Danica Miller. The typographers who collaborated on the design of the work used a specially designed Lushootseed typeface for these words. Upon the advice of Danica Miller, the Lushootseed words were not capitalized in keeping with the proper way of writing place names in this language.

    Vaughn Bell is an artist whose work focuses on the complexities and paradoxes of human interactions with places, natural forces and other species. Recent exhibitions have included installations in London, Brussels, Buenos Aires, and Paris. Since 2018, she has been working with horticulturalists at Kew Gardens on the exhibition Plantscapes for Summer 2021. In addition to exhibiting works at museums and institutions, she often works in the public realm on artworks rooted in local communities and ecologies. Bell is a part-time faculty in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Tacoma, where she teaches and has developed curriculum on public art, ecological art and creative practices. vaughnbell.net

    Featured Images: ©Vaughn Bell, All the Rivers in the World, Tacoma, 2019.


  • Monday, November 29, 2021 9:44 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    BOOK REVIEW

    Striking Back by Aviva Rahmani

    What is fascinating, informative, and important to ecoart about Laura Raicovich’s recent book, “Culture Strike: Art and Museums in an Age of Protest” (Verso Press 224 pages / June 2021), is that it is a thoughtful meditation on the paradoxical power relationships between disparate groups and values: museum personnel, business leaders, and activists representing disenfranchised groups. At a number of museums in recent years, that relationship has been tested, as, with British Petroleum, from whom the Tate, UK, was successfully pressured by Liberate Tate to divest in 2016, or with the Sackler family, which produced OxyContin, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. What is significant about her meditation for the field of ecoart is that even though good ecological art can set the wheels in motion, we need more than one wheel to move the vehicle of change forward in mainstream consciousness before we all perish from ecosuicide. The museum world, despite caveats, may still house one of those wheels.

    Critics maintain that the museum world is held hostage to figures whose financial success cannot be held up to scrutiny. Therefore, the museums’ ethical accountability cannot be assured. That is where art activists have stepped into the breach to demand that accountability. Raicovich’s insightful gaze on these relationships is cool but not cold. Her conclusions seem implicit: the wheel is broken but perhaps not irreparably. She analyzes several complex situations, including a frank examination of her high-profile resignation as President and Executive Director from the Queens Museum of New York, where she advocated a radical public commons, to show how a small, strategically minded, and determined group can effect change. The most careful investigation of that dynamic is in her deconstruction of events at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which ended with the reluctant resignation of Warren B. Kanders on July 19, 2019, then vice-chairman of the museum, whose company, Safariland, supplied tear gas used at the Mexican American border and in Palestine. Kanders' statement at the time was, “I joined this board to help the museum prosper. I do not wish to play a role, however inadvertent, in its demise.” Before he resigned, five prominent artists announced they would withdraw from the Biennale led by Michael Rakowitz, then Korakrit ArunanondchaiMeriem BennaniNicole Eisenman and, Nicholas Galanin. They were later joined by other artists from the Biennale. It is worth mentioning that the honorarium for the artist’s participation was $1500., which they did not forfeit. Clearly, that modest figure is evidence that finances were not a consideration for the artists. The organization most responsible for pressure on the Whitney was Decolonize This Place. The formal statement from the latter ended by celebrating, “… a process of reformulating our museums to be responsive to the constituencies they claim to serve.”

    Whether or not that optimism is justified today is arguable. But the dynamics Laura Raicovich so carefully and honestly dissected are worth close consideration. Raicovich’s deconstruction of museum accountability represents a deconstruction of the same dynamic the world recently witnessed in the denouement of COP26 in Glasgow. COP26 came to no practical solutions to the scale of devastation occasioned by fossil fuel corporations. The caveat to that comparison is that no one resigned after COP26. Nor did anyone implicitly express regret for any threat to institutions caused by their bad behavior.

    And the caveat to that is that the art world often reflects attitudinal shifts on the broader culture. The outstanding question Raicovich leaves hanging is whether it is possible to work as an ethical museum director in our current culture. And the corollary to that question is can we find any respite to our climate crises in any powerful institution, or is the whole world held hostage to greed with impunity? What are the limits of our personal and professional boundaries, and where, when, and how can we exert pressure to change how Western cultural institutions function? If, as many believe, the museum is still the agora for public discourse, if as many believe the most critical discourse we must engage in now is how to end behaviors that result in ecocide, of which climate change is one devastating symptom, can we take space in museum culture to force that discourse and effect change? Can we hope for a horizon of accountability for the rich and powerful? As she writes in her conclusion about the challenge ahead, “… the single most important thing is to begin … by looking inward.” She has offered us that beginning.


  • Monday, November 22, 2021 11:23 PM | Callie Smith (Administrator)

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    November 22, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Linda Gass.

    San Francisco Bay Area multimedia artist Linda Gass creates stitched paintings and works in glass to question the relationship between humans and their environment. Informed and inspired by her extensive research on the impact of changing waterways, sea-level rise, fire and drought in California and the American West, her work uses beauty to shed light on difficult issues. "I am inspired by the relationship between humans and the water and land that sustain them. My work explores how landscapes change over time focusing on those places where destruction and renewal, wounding and healing, absence and presence overlap."

    Dogpatch, the sea is rising: 0, 3 and 6 feet, 2019

    Sea level rise, caused by the thermal expansion of warming ocean water and the melting of land ice, is a significant climate change threat to coastal. From 1900 to 2016 global sea level has risen by 7-8 inches and the rate has increased to a rate of about 1/8” per year. The most recent scientific estimates for San Francisco Bay were released in 2018 by the California Ocean Protection Council (a State Government appointed council). Projections for 2050 are relatively modest with a likely increase of 1-foot. However, by 2100 the likely projection puts sea-level rise at between 3 to 6 feet. The range of projections is affected by whether carbon emission levels fall significantly or if they continue at current levels.

    "Using sea-level rise maps published by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), I have created a triptych of artworks showing the present day and the impact of 3 and 6 feet of sea level rise on the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. If you are familiar with this are, you may recognize familiar features such as the new Chase Center in Mission Bay and Oracle Park to the north."

    San Joaquin Merced Revival, 2012

    San Joaquin Merced Revival is part of a series about confluences of bodies of water that no longer exist due to human impact. The artwork shows a birds-eye view of where the confluence of the San Joaquin and Merced rivers once was, paired with endangered Chinook salmon. Before the San Joaquin was dammed and heavily diverted for agriculture in the 1940s, the river was the largest in Central California and supported spring and fall salmon runs of over 300,000 fish. The completion of the Friant Dam in 1942 and the diversion of water into the Friant-Kern Canal left little more than a trickle below the dam in most years, drying up the San Joaquin before it reaches its confluence with the Merced. As a result, the count of Chinook salmon fell to zero by the 1950s and the spring and fall salmon runs became extinct.

    Although this situation may seem hopeless, there is an effort underway to restore the river and the Chinook salmon runs. In 1988, 13 plaintiffs filed a lawsuit and successfully proved that the Friant Dam's diversion of water from the San Joaquin River violated the Endangered Species Act and California's public trust policies. Eventually a settlement was reached in 2006, requiring the river flow and the salmon runs to be restored. Restoration efforts are currently underway.

    Some day there may be no more snow: California snowpack 1960 – 2019

    This data visualization artwork shows the average annual snow water equivalent for the state of California for the years 1960 – 2019. The snow water equivalent is a critical measurement: the state’s water delivery system of dams and reservoirs was designed to rely on the snowpack’s natural reservoir. The mountains store vast quantities of winter precipitation as frozen snow until late spring when it begins melting, slowly releasing water throughout the summer to replenish the human-made reservoirs.

    The artwork shows that California has very few “normal” years; for as long as humans have kept track, it never has. Flood and drought are the normal, however the data shows the water content is on a downward trend. The decrease is caused by warmer winter air temperatures where less precipitation falls in the form of snow. The delicate thread-lace columns evoke the shape of the tubes used by snow surveyors to measure the snow pack and their shaded gradation help the viewer see the extremes in the data.

    Some day there may be no more snow: California Snowpack 1960-2019, 2019 (detail)

    Linda Gass is best known for her intricately stitched paintings about climate change, land use, and water issues in California and the American West. She graduated from Stanford University with a BS in Mathematics and MS in Computer Science and has been creating art for more than 20 years after a decade-long career in software. Her work has been exhibited throughout the US, in Europe and Russia, and at venues including the Museum of Craft and Design, Oakland Museum, the Bellevue Arts Museum, and the US Embassy in Moscow; and has been written about in National Geographic’s All Over the Map: A Cartographic Odyssey, and American Craft as well as other publications. Gass's work is held in several public and private collections including the International Quilt Museum, San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. lindagass.com

    Featured Images: ©Linda Gass, Dogpatch, the sea is rising: 0, 3, and 6 feet, 2019, silk painting, digital scanning , digital image manipulation (Adobe Photoshop), digital printing on silk, machine quilting, 35.5 x 60 x 1.5 inches (Top); San Joaquin Merced Revival, 2012, silk painting and machine quilting, 30 x 45 x .5 inches; Some day there may be no more snow: California Snowpack 1960-2019, 2019, cotton, rayon and clear polyester, monofilament thread, dissolvable stabilizer, fabric stiffener, magnets, nails, 58 x 90 x 1.25 inches (bottom). Portrait of the artist at the Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco, 2020 (Below).


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