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 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
  • Monday, November 01, 2021 4:33 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Molybdenum Mine Vol. 1, Hydrolibros

    Flow and Integration in the River Basin: Basia Irland on her Career Inspired by and Alongside the Rivers of the World

    Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Fulbright Scholar, Basia Irland, creates international water projects featured in two books, “Water Library” (University of New Mexico Press, 2007) and “Reading the River: The Ecological Activist Art of Basia Irland” (Museum De Domijnen, 2017). Through her work, Irland offers a creative understanding of water while examining how communities of all beings rely on this vital element. She is Professor Emerita, Department of Art and Art History, University of New Mexico, where she established the Arts and Ecology Program. Her art is featured in over 70 international publications.

    Hello Basia, thank you so much for your time. It is such a pleasure to speak with you. Since your work has revolved around the major theme of rivers but has allowed for incredible depth and diversity in practice, I want to dig into several aspects of your career.

    Hydrolibros series. Retrospective, Museum de Domijnen, The Netherlands

    You have worked so closely with these soils, waters and riverbeds; often using close observation to determine and drive your artwork. Yet, many of these ecologies have experienced drastic change. Over the course of your career, climate-related disaster and water mismanagement has increased drastically. How has this affected your work? What have you noticed in the field?

    Good question because these two areas affect my work every day. My global river projects have investigated climate disruption for decades. “Icefield” was created twenty-one years ago in 2000. When this installation, (in the collection of the Colorado Water Center), was reshown last year in 2020, at a Denver exhibition, the curator wrote: “Ice Field anticipated by many years the more recent alarm over glacial melting. Twenty years ago, when climate disruption was rarely discussed in most of the world, Irland spent time hiking on a number of glaciers, including those in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Inspired by these hikes across glaciers and her observations of meltwater, Irland began thinking about a future when there would be no more glaciers on the planet and the runoff from the ice would be the only relic remaining for scientists to study. Knowing that meltwater contains microbial populations, nutrients and metals that escape from glaciers and feed downstream ecosystems, Irland developed an installation entitled Ice Field. She used some of the instruments of scientific research–petri dishes, vials, test tubes and flasks filled with water as both an artistic interpretation of a future scientific study set in a pristine lab and an ode to the melting glaciers themselves. Ice Field was also installed in 2015 as part of a major retrospective of Irland’s work at the Museum De Domijnen in the Netherlands.”

    No matter how dire the situation for rivers seems to be these days, there are plenty of thoughtful humans along riverbanks everywhere who work tirelessly to envision a better future for their community waterways.

    We have seen how pollution, dams, channelization, climate disruption, over-exploitation, habitat destruction, uncontrolled urbanization, floods, and drought are drastically affecting our waterways. However, it is also important to reflect on some of the positive ways local groups are actively addressing the problems. No matter how dire the situation for rivers seems to be these days, there are plenty of thoughtful humans along riverbanks everywhere who work tirelessly to envision a better future for their community waterways. Numerous restoration projects are happening thanks to local governmental, environmental, and health organizations. Residents and businesses, nearby schools, and universities all pitch in to assist. Globally, concerned people are stepping up to take care of degraded streams, but obviously there is continually more to be done.

    Icefield. Detail of installation.

    What a hopeful message! Your work has followed riverways all over the world. They are symbols of this global interconnectedness, yet each experience is individual. What are some similarities and differences that you have discovered in the stories the river ecologies have to tell? What do the rivers want us to know?

    I have written twenty-four essays for National Geographic about international rivers, written in the first person, from the perspective of the water. Cultural critic Lucy Lippard writes, “The genius of these National Geographic posts is the fact that they are written in the first person, the persona of the river herself. This unorthodox viewpoint removes the distanced objectivity expected of journalistic criticism and delivers the writing into direct experience – not the experience of someone simply rafting and hiking and researching a river, but the experience of being a river.”

    We are not separate from the waters of the world.

    Almost all global rivers I have visited share similarities because they are in peril, but in different ways. The Bagmati River, Nepal is a dumping site for thousands of cremated bodies. The Narmada River, India, is sacred and yet has one of the largest dams in the world. Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile, Ethiopia, and is rampant with the water-borne disease, schistosomiasis. The Portneuf River is completely encased in concrete as it flows through Pocatello, Idaho, so it can no longer breathe and meander naturally.

    On a brighter note, Singapore recycles almost all of its wastewater into clean drinking water using a rigorous treatment process. It was fascinating to visit one of their plants with a biologist and see the various technologies being utilized. I think rivers would want us to deeply understand that they are alive. They have a body called a watershed with a mouth at the delta; organs of wetlands and riparian zones; cells, molecules of water; and like us, a circulatory system. We are not separate from the waters of the world.

    Your symbolism between humanity and waterways is deeply touching! And your work is very collaborative between disciplines and people. For example, you work closely with scientists and with large local communities. What have been some important moments related to these interdisciplinary and global collaborations?

    I could not do the work I do without the collaboration of scientists from many disciplines, including parasitologists in Nepal; a restoration biologist with the Nisqually Tribe, Washington; an algal scientist in Georgia; a biogeochemist in Colorado. I have partnered with dozens of hydrologists, and when invited to create Ice Book projects, I work closely with stream ecologists and botanists to determine the best native riparian seeds. There were nine different departments and institutes at Antioch College and the University of Dayton, which invited me to create an Ice Book project in Ohio. This included the Rivers Institute and even the physics department.

    Launching Book XXXI into Rio. Photo by Ben Daitz.

    The Gathering of Waters, which establishes cooperative relationships between people, and connects diverse cultures along the entire length of rivers, emphasizes that we all live downstream, and how imperative it is that we work together to face water challenges. During the five-year long Gathering of Waters; Río Grande, Source to Sea, over a thousand people participated along the entire 1,875 mile-length of the Río Grande. A canteen and logbook traveled the route of the río by boat, raft, canoe, hot-air balloon, car, van, horseback, truck, bicycle, mail, and on foot -- always handed person to person the entire distance. Many of the nineteen Native American Pueblos in New Mexico along the Río Grande were involved by performing relays of running with the canteen from pueblo to pueblo escorted by Tribal Police cars. At each pueblo the arrival of the canteen would be greeted with a delicious home-cooked meal.

    During the five-year long Gathering of Waters; Río Grande, Source to Sea, over a thousand people participated along the entire 1,875 mile-length of the Río Grande... Connections were made that have been lasting, and groups are working together that never would have met otherwise.

    After five years, the project reached the Gulf of Mexico at Boca Chica where we held a grand ceremony with participants from Mexico and the United States, and the upper and lower basins celebrating together. Connections were made that have been lasting, and groups are working together that never would have met otherwise.

    The sculptures accompanying these projects are Backpack/Repositories constructed from local materials, which contain artifacts and research from the Gatherings. They hold the scientific data, canteens, logbooks, maps, water samples, photographs, video documentaries, and other relevant art objects and information. Through an encompassing ethic of inclusion, we witness the diversity of life along the river being celebrated again and again as the container passes downstream, hand to hand. Lucy Lippard, writes; “A Gathering of Waters is a major model for eco-art. Irland takes the journey herself, swimming upstream against the currents of a society not yet convinced that our comforts are worth sacrificing for our resources.” As with the Ice Book projects, each participant is presented with a handmade gift, often sculpted from river clay, to express appreciation for their help. Reciprocity.”

    Saskatchewan River Delta Backpack-Repository. Canada

    To participate in both of the Gathering and Ice Receding/Books Reseeding Projects, you have to physically be at the river and interact with others. Being aware of the plight of flowing water that is always asked to give more than it has, is a call for action from each of us.

    In addition to the Río Grande, Gatherings have occurred along numerous other rivers. To participate in both of the Gathering and Ice Receding/Books Reseeding Projects, you have to physically be at the river and interact with others. Being aware of the plight of flowing water that is always asked to give more than it has, is a call for action from each of us. In the video documentary about the Gatherings, my son, Derek, stands in the middle of the Río Grande on a small sandbar and tweaks a famous quote; ‘Ask not what this river can do for you, but what you can do for this river.’

    Boulder Creek Repository (worn), Colorado (center). Retrospective, Museum de Domijnen, The Netherlands.

    Just last week I received an email inquiry about the Gathering Projects from an ecologist in the UK who wrote, “In particular, I am in love with your log-book idea in A Gathering of Waters: The Río Grande, Source to Sea – how it meanders down-stream from person to person, community to community. I am considering how I might adapt that as a means to connect people in a similar way and be a participatory method to create knowledge to inform my research into how people feel – relational and intrinsic values, and wellbeing - about their temporary chalk streams in southern England.”

    You mentioned your ice books. And I wanted to ask you specifically about, Ice Receding/Books Reseeding, how they function as seeding depositories supporting biodiversity along river ecologies and bring awareness to melting glaciers. What is your process in deciding what seeds to include in which spaces?

    The Ice Book projects emphasize the necessity of communal effort, scientific knowledge, and artistic expression to address complex environmental issues and watershed restoration by releasing seed-laden ephemeral ice sculptures into rivers.

    The idea for the Ice Books began in 2007 when I was invited to do a project along Boulder Creek in Colorado as part of an exhibition focused on the climate crisis. Each of the artists was paired with a local scientist. I have often collaborated with scientists from a variety of disciplines throughout my career, and it was wonderful to work with a biogeochemist on this project. A primary water source for Boulder is Arapaho Glacier, and that glacier, as with most others in the world, is melting so drastically that it may soon disappear entirely. Creating a sculpture out of ice makes this idea visible, so we tangibly sense the loss of glaciers. Simultaneously, positive action is promoted by implanting seeds within the ice. The seeds present both a practical and poetic possibility for repair and renewal.

    Creating a sculpture out of ice makes this idea visible, so we tangibly sense the loss of glaciers. Simultaneously, positive action is promoted by implanting seeds within the ice. The seeds present both a practical and poetic possibility for repair and renewal.

    The seeds embedded in the ice form a universal ecological language, a restoration text, a poem to the river. I work closely with stream ecologists and botanists to ascertain the best native seeds for each riparian zone. Sometimes other natural materials are used instead of seeds. Deckers Creek in West Virginia is highly polluted with acid mine drainage. At this location the pH level drops from a healthy 7.7 to a problematic 4.2. Instead of seeds, we used limestone because of its ability to neutralize acidity. On False Creek in Vancouver, Canada, krill was used rather than seeds to provide food for small fish with the hope of luring salmon back into the area.

    Most of these projects are highly collaborative and could not occur without the effort of many people working together along rivers where I am honored to be invited. With the help of local communities, the Ice Books are launched into the water. The calligraphic sentences of seeds slide from the melting pages of the volumes into the water to be carried to shore and begin planting themselves along the banks of the river.

    In the years since the first Ice Book project, I have been invited to create over one-hundred hand-carved time-based sculptures to bring attention to rivers and how we might help with restoration efforts. These projects are not about abstract theorizing while sitting indoors; rather, they are about connecting diverse, multi-generational communities directly to their local waterways and taking tangible action for river repair. The Ice Books are replicable, ephemeral, use non-toxic materials, leave behind only native plants, and present a lyrical way to restore streams.

    Tome II being read beside the Río Grande, New Mexico. Photo by Claire Cote.

    These projects are not about abstract theorizing while sitting indoors; rather, they are about connecting diverse, multi-generational communities directly to their local waterways and taking tangible action for river repair.

    Recently I have been working with people from around the world who want to create their own Ice Books to make connections to their waterways and initiate restorative actions that address local ecological issues. The results have been inventive, educational, and inspiring, with examples coming in from Spain, France, the Netherlands, Canada, Ireland, and many parts of the United States, including Hawaii.

    A professor in China organized a two-day workshop with adults and children who launched Ice Books into the confluence of the Jailing and Yangtze Rivers. An Ice Book in England focuses on species loss and the collapse of amphibian populations. A frozen volume in Sydney, Australia is embedded with mangrove seedlings. An indigenous artist in the U.S. carved the words for “Water is Life” in his native tribal language and placed sacred corn within the text. The book was planted in the red desert earth of the Navajo Nation. Dutch Ice Books witness a river that has been dredged to help alleviate flooding. Imbedded in an Ice Book from Mexico are plants important to the ancient Lake Xochimilco and the historic canals of Mexico City. If you visit your local river today, what would you add to an Ice Book to bring attention to ecological issues faced by your watershed?

    What a fantastic call to action! Your related work, Hydrolibros, accentuates local ecologies through bound books using materials from the riverbeds you explore. Through these materials you tell stories. What is your approach to telling these stories through materials?

    One example of the numerous stories told in a Hydrolibros sculpture is Molybedenum Mine, Vol. I that commemorates a huge scar gaping across acres of abused wilderness in northern New Mexico caused by the Chevron Questa molybedenum mine (formerly the Molycorp Mine). Wandering illegally among the heaps of discarded mining equipment, I found the text for this hand-carved wooden book, which was fool’s gold and rust – poetic justice for this site, the tailings of which historically killed aquatic habitat for over ten miles downstream in the Red River and contaminated the soil. The mine began operations in 1920 and was officially closed in 2014. An image of Molybdenum Mine, Vol. I was included in the 2020 book, Extraction, Art on the Edge of the Abyss (pp. 480-48, CODEX Foundation).

    Speaking of literature, in your scrolls you explore waterborne diseases and present them in beautiful ways and yet they are deadly…

    Yes, I am very interested in the notion of a terrible beauty. When isolated and viewed through a microscope, the pathogens look incredibly beautiful, and yet, the tragic reality is that waterborne diseases kill millions of people around the world every year. According to the World Health Organization, a child dies from a water-related disease every eight seconds. A BBC reporter phrased it this way: “The number of deaths due to water pathogens is the same as twenty jumbo jets crashing each day.” The dark, destructive side of water is as fascinating and rich in history as its more sanguine side. Many households around the world, including here in the United States, do not have clean water, and this must be considered one of the most serious public health crises facing us.

    For more extensive writings on The Terrible Beauty of Waterborne Micro-Pathogens, see chapter six “Polluted Waters” in Water Library, Basia Irland, University of New Mexico Press, 2007.

    Waterborne Disease Scrolls. Retrospective. Museum de Domijnen, The Netherlands.

    As well as your awareness work, you have created spaces for people to contemplate the river in meditation with it. You describe your Contemplation Stations as places to “repose by yourself and view a flowing stream that has the ability to quiet the mind, relax the body and feed the soul.” What was your inspiration for this work and how has the need for this developed during the past few years?

    In our overly frenetic, busy lives, I enjoy creating spaces where one can visit and experience a sense of tranquility and peace – away from the work-a-day world. Contemplation Stations are woven river plants constructed around a sturdy outdoor wooden chair placed on a site near the river so the viewer can be cocooned within and be quietly attentive. The overhead dome-shape frames the view so a person's perception is focused intently on the river. All the senses are heightened when in this type of setting. The smell of nearby plants, the sight of the current flowing downstream, the call of birds, are all brought into perspective and can be more deeply appreciated.

    All the senses are heightened when in this type of setting. The smell of nearby plants, the sight of the current flowing downstream, the call of birds, are all brought into perspective and can be more deeply appreciated.
    I created seven of these sculptural forms on the River Maas, which is the border between Belgium and the Netherlands when I had a large retrospective at the Museum de Domijnen, the Netherlands. Recently, I built and located three of the Stations along the Río Grande in New Mexico as a way for people to contemplate and focus on the importance of this major artery of the Southwest. During this time of Covid, I have heard from many people who seek out the (“socially distanced” -- ha) Stations as a site to be alone in a quiet, beautiful setting.

    So, the viewer is integrated into the flow and tide of the river itself? Much of your work involves ephemeral pieces that reintegrate with the chosen ecology as if in keeping with the flowing natural cycles of life. What has drawn you toward the ephemeral as a process?

    Translator, David Hinton describes ancient Chinese poets who, as a form of spiritual practice, would write on rocks and trees with water-soluble ink that would wash away in the rain, so the poem was complete only when it vanished. Just as the prayer flags I photographed strung near sacred sites and hanging from temple trees throughout Nepal and India transport blessings on the wind, the rivers of the world need all the reverence and protection we can provide.

    In my art, the process of creation is as important as the sculptures, which in the case of the Ice Books (described previously), are impermanent, only existing after the event through documentation and plants. Part of the significance of these time-based sculptures is that they melt away. Time and energy, which have gone into the carving of the Books vanish in the current of a stream. Everything we know is in existence for only a period of time. Instead of dust to dust, here we have water to water. A marble or steel sculpture will also eventually, over millennia, go back into the earth, but the process is speeded up drastically in melting ice. Ways of knowing later about an ephemeral object or event is through documentation. I utilize writing, filming, photography, and drawing, which are shown in museum installations.

    Instead of dust to dust, here we have water to water. A marble or steel sculpture will also eventually, over millennia, go back into the earth, but the process is speeded up drastically in melting ice.

    Lastly, you recently had a retrospective of your life’s work thus far. How does it feel to see it all come together? And what are you planning to do next?

    I was invited by the amazing Dutch curator Roel Arkensteijn to have a large retrospective at the Museum de Dominjnen in the Netherlands, which was the most wondrous experience! The museum hired eight preparators who helped with anything that I wished to create, including installing a long reflecting pool of water with stepping-stones within the museum. My work took up seven enormous galleries and filled the entire museum. We even projected images of flowing water, entitled Below, onto the façade windows to indicate that this building might someday be underwater since the Netherlands lies so low.
    It was fantastic to see older work side by side with brand new work created specifically for the space. We constructed seven Contemplation Stations (discussed previously) out of natural local materials that were sited along the River Maas. Within the museum was a location map of these Stations.

    I feel totally fortunate to wake up each day and do the work I love to do!

    The primary focus right now is representing the United States in the upcoming Biennale, Cuenca, Ecuador, curated by the brilliant Blanca de la Torre. All the work I am creating for the museum is being produced on site (instead of shipping art) to keep our ecological footprint to a minimum, including video installations translated into Spanish and projects focused on the four major regional rivers. I am also creating collaborative aquatic projects with an artist in Xochimilco, Mexico and a scientist in the UK. I feel totally fortunate to wake up each day and do the work I love to do!!

    Thank you so much for your time, Basia! What amazing messages and inspiration our readers can take from your experience!

    To see more of Irland's work go to

    Contemplation Station VII before being moved to the River Maas.

  • Monday, November 01, 2021 1:27 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    November 1, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Marion Wilson.

    Greening the Red Line began with art classes taught at Urban Ministries’ drop-in art room which is one mile from the national headquarters of Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Heated conversations ensued about the historical practice of red-lining, which denied mortgage loans based on race, and the ways that artists both resist and participate in urban development. Participants shared memories of neighborhoods that have changed; and wrote poems about what it feels like to be a person who “travels by foot."

    "As the Environmental Artist at the McColl Center in Charlotte, North Carolina during Fall 2016, I used the 'southern landscape' to talk about issues of housing and rapid-fire development of Charlotte’s city center; and the historically racist practice of red-lining where banks restricted housing loans to people of color. My community engagement project was held in partnership with the Urban Ministries Center art program where I led a Drop-in Drawing Clinic in a renovated RV art and botany lab called MLAB that I brought down from Syracuse, New York."

    "Within the first two weeks, with the assistance of McColl Center, I was able to sit down with a developer who owned a 2.5 acre abandoned lot next door to Urban Ministries and get permission to use 900 North Tryon Street as a platform for my work. In collages, I imagined blanketing the lot with a large bed of a red — creating a metaphoric red stop sign to slow down and look at what we are doing with all of this development. I ran drawing clinics in the RV, both looking closely through jewelers loupes at species of urban mosses and grasses found on the lot; but also turning our viewfinders to the panoramic view of the city to re-imagine through sketches what we as artists, people who are served by the Urban Ministries and already use the lot; or anyone who feels resistance to development."

    "In my own studio practice I brought back barrels and bags of the red clay soil and rocks from a lot being developed near Alexandria Park – along the River Creek walk. In glass planters I grew three 'cover crops': crimson clover, winter rye and winter cow pea. Crimson Clover blooms a brilliant red in the spring and all of the cover crops add nutrients to the soil and help with erosion in time that farmers use to grow crops in the spring. I began making larger and larger containers and raised beds for the crops and eventually turned to the church pew fragments that I had brought down with me from a previous project. In a thin layer of local soil I grow these three crops as if they were paintings of the Southern landscape."

    Marion Wilson's art investigates landscape to foster a connection to self and place. Through paintings, photographs, and installations, she interrogates our relations to nature at a time when extreme climate change threatens ecosystems, livelihoods, and communities. The artist builds partnerships with botanists, architects, and urban communities, reflecting collective skill sets. She founded MLAB and MossLab, a mobile eco/art lab in a student renovated RV — driving from Syracuse to Miami examining moss species, and 601 Tully — the renovation of an abandoned 1900 residence into a neighborhood art center in upstate NY. Wilson re-finished a houseboat in Vineyard Haven, MA, during the pandemic, which she named 100 Lagoon Pond, providing her with an art studio and a public platform towards collective lagoon health.

    Featured Images: ©Marion Wilson, Greening the Red Line, 2015-2017.

  • Monday, November 01, 2021 10:56 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace November 2021 e-Newsletter is HERE

  • Sunday, October 31, 2021 9:37 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    A ravenous, yet decrepit cyborg – part machine, part zombie – lurches onward as it is programmed to do. Its hunger is so insatiable that it eats its own flesh; it eats its offspring; and it eats the future. The catabolic effects are inescapable and its death rattle reverberates for miles. An entire city lives inside this beast. Yet in this late hour, inhabitants put their heads down and carry-on as usual, for they are all dependent upon this monster for their very own food, water, and shelter. No one dares utter a stray word, until the day one brave soul holds up a mirror that reveals who they have become.

    A decade ago, I attended a series of contentious activist meetings with Rio Tinto, the mega-mining corporation that owns the massive Kennecott copper pit in the Salt Lake Valley. Rio Tinto planned to expand the mine, and activists were pushing back. The meetings foundered and collapsed upon the lack of viable possibilities for avoiding local impacts and for making operations more sustainable. Activists’ proposals were considered impractical and unprofitable. Ultimately, Kennecott got its expansion and activists got nothing.

    Jean Arnold - Civilization

    Jean Arnold, Civilization, 2012, oil on canvas, 42 x 42 inches.

    An early Egyptian pyramid is seen with the gaping hole of the Kennecott copper pit. As civilization builds up monuments to itself, it must tear down into Earth for her treasures.

    As a visual artist, I took my angst to the studio and captured eviscerated earth in a series of paintings and drawings, depicting large-scale mining operations that are rarely seen or considered by the public. What better way to reveal our civilization's insatiable hunger for resources?

    I realized that the mining industry cannot be greened, intrinsically by its very nature. Mining casts a long shadow: habitat loss, land theft, worker exploitation, local health impacts, and groundwater contamination, to name just a few issues. Without mining and other forms of extraction, Industrial Civilization could not exist. Yet we rarely ponder our Wonder-World’s material basis and its extraction costs.

    Turns out I’m not the only one working in this vein – far from it.

    This year a broad panoply of photographers, painters, poets, and printmakers are raising a ruckus in a four-continent constellation of almost fifty exhibits, installations, performances, and events under the rubric “EXTRACTION: Art on the Edge of the Abyss.” When EXTRACTION originator Peter Koch announced the project, it took off like wildfire. Creators are shining lights on all forms of the omnivorous extractive industry, “from mining and drilling to the reckless plundering and exploitation of fresh water, fertile soil, timber, marine life, and innumerable other resources across the globe.” The project’s broad definition begs the questions: In our civilization, what isn’t based on extraction? What isn’t affected by extraction?

    Continue reading HERE

  • Sunday, October 31, 2021 11:57 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Diane Burko: On Bearing Witness and Embracing Beauty

    Susan Hoffman Fishman (posted on Artists & Climate Change, October 25, 2021)

    For over fifty years, Philadelphia-based painter, photographer, and activist Diane Burko has translated her love for large open spaces and monumental geological sites into powerful and alluring landscapes. Her current exhibition at the American University in Washington, D.C. (August 28 – December 12, 2021), titled Diane Burko: Seeing Climate Change 2002 – 2021, contains 103 paintings, photographs, and time-based media depicting mountains, oceans, snow and ice, glaciers, volcanos, and fires that address the growing impact of the climate crisis.

    Installation view of Diane Burko: Seeing Climate Change 2002 – 2021 at the American University, Washington, D.C., 2021.

    Continue reading HERE

  • Monday, October 25, 2021 10:04 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    October 25, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist Billy X. Curmano.

    In Swimmin' the River (1987-1997), Billy X. Curmano swam the length of the Mississippi River as a political gesture to advocate for the freedom from toxicity. Spanning from the headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico (2,367.4 miles), Curmano used the river as an artistic medium and political landscape to discuss environmental issues. He waded in the Mississippi as the sunlight glistens and the wind shapes the tide. Each stroke the artist took was an attempt to reclaim the river under the banner of art and to work toward a more progressive agenda for climate justice. The ecology of Curmano’s swim can be seen as an extended metaphor of pollution—one in which our existence has become contaminated by the effects of eco-capitalism.

    "I love the concept of life simply as art – it runs through me. But what if the reality of my life is confused by dreams and fantasies? What is life? What is real? What is not? I think my take on live art is sometimes akin to automatic writing or a painter painting a fantasy. I seem to be compelled to live out my fantasies. Life as art morphs into a life in peculiar circumstance: in the Mississippi River, the Arctic, or Death Valley, or wherever. Or maybe it’s life as art, as life takes a turn. Then again, maybe I’m simply bored when trapped inside walls, even walls made of glass. I take great solace in nature.

    I’ve tried to balance urban life and nature. I’ve been a tree planter. I’ve lived in the woods. I’ve slept in a hammock near the crown of trees. In a fit of artistic isolationism, I moved to a farmhouse on a minimum maintenance road. My work has allowed me to be intimate with the Mississippi for thousands of miles. It’s taken me to the beauty of the desert and the deep seated spirituality of a 40-day juice and water fast. It lets me step out of what eventually always becomes the everyday."

    Mississippi River Water Vial, 1987, edition of 110, signed and numbered, hand-etched glass vial with Mississippi River source water collected at Lake Itasca, MN. (click on the image to go to Fundraiser Gallery)

    Billy X. Curmano is an award-winning artist/adventurer and former McKnight Foundation Interdisciplinary Art Fellow. He was trained as a painter and sculptor. His more traditional objects have been exhibited here and abroad since a first solo show at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in 1970. Notably, some of his paintings represented the USA in the “III Vienna Graphikbiennale” (Austria). His works have also found their way to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and other prestigious collections. Billy X. came to music through the back door using soundscapes in “live art” and is probably best known for edgy performances. His more eccentric pieces include a 3-day live burial, 2,000 plus mile Mississippi River Swim, 40-day Death Valley Desert Fast, and a sojourn to the Arctic Circle on public transport. He’s won awards for performance and film as well as a solo CD. Billy X. has toured every way imaginable, including 6,200 miles and 15 cities in 45 days on a Greyhound Bus and intrigued audiences from the Dalai Lama's World Festival of Sacred Music in Los Angeles to New York City's famed Franklin Furnace. He's been a "Pick of the Week" in the L.A. Weekly and on the City Pages "A-List". Journalists have dubbed him the court jester of Southern Minnesota. He has been fortunate to study briefly with John Cage, Rachel Rosenthal, Babtundi Olatunji, and Joseph Shabalala.

    Featured Images: ©Billy X. Curmano, Swimming the Mississippi, 1987-1997. Top image: “Sun Hat”, Mississippi River near Oquawka, IL, Photo by Darlene Hlidek. Center image: “As Far as the Heart Can See,” installation including "Swim" video at Elizabeth foundation for the Arts, New York. Above: “Mr. Ambassador,” Mississippi River near Palisade Minnesota, Photo by Andi Shankle. Below: “St. Paul Landing,” Photo by David Florian Heinz.

  • Monday, October 18, 2021 9:04 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    October 18, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist Meridel Rubenstein.

    The Eden in Iraq Wastewater Garden Project (2011-present) is a humanitarian water remediation project, expressed through wastewater garden design and environmental art, that provides environmental and cultural regeneration to a desiccated region of southern Iraq. This project is a collaboration between co-directors artist/photographer Meridel Rubenstein and environmental engineer Dr. Davide Tocchetto, with environmental engineer Dr. Mark Nelson and engineer and managing director Nature Iraq NGO, Jassim Al-Asadi.

    The Garden will provide urgently needed health and clean water for southern Iraqis, their children, and future generations to come. This project, sponsored by NGO Nature Iraq in Iraq and the Institute of Ecotechnics in both the UK and USA, is a response to decades of conflict in this region and continued tension due to climate change, external water rights violations, and social upheaval. Initial support since 2011 spans from Iraqi municipalities, the region and State, to international sources; most recently, the Eden in Iraq Wastewater Garden Project was chosen as one out of 100 grassroots projects for UNESCO’s Green Citizens Initiative.

    The wastewater garden will feature locally significant design details, making it an engaging public site that emphasizes cultural heritage, while restoring health and offering ecological education. It will provide a sanctuary for reflection and relaxation in a continuously unsettled time. The garden design will engage with local craftspeople, local materials, and ancient crafts e.g. reed structures, earthen brick, ancient cylinder seal patterns for ceramic tiles, and a floral design layout that is inspired by Mesopotamian embroidered wedding blanket patterns (now being revived locally).

    Eden in Iraq offers a solution to contaminated water through the utilization of simple and sustainable wastewater recycling technology to support a garden that embodies the rich cultural heritage and tradition of the marshes and the Marsh Arab community. For those millions of migrants afloat in Europe today, the Marsh Arabs of the Mesopotamian marshes in Southern Iraq offer a stunning example of a violently displaced people returning home to heal and restore their desertified land.

    Meridel Rubenstein began her career as a photographer in the early 1970s, and slowly evolved from taking single photographic images to becoming an artist of extended works and multi-media installations. She studied with noted photographer Minor White at MIT and received her MA and MFA in photography from the University of New Mexico. From the start, her art has urged awareness of how we are connected to place. Rubenstein has been an active arts educator for over thirty years, having headed the MFA Photography Program at San Francisco State University. She has exhibited widely, including at Brian Gross Fine Art in San Francisco, Chan Hampe Gallery Singapore, and the Louvre in Paris. Rubenstein has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Bunting Institute at Harvard University, and awards from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Pollock Krasner and the Rockefeller Foundations.

    Featured Images Above: ©Meridel Rubenstein, Eden in Iraq, 2011-present. IMPORTANT: The Eden in Iraq team recently signed an agreement with the Center for Restoration of Iraqi Marshes and Wetlands (CRIMW) to implement the first stage of the Wastewater Garden. Meridel Rubenstein in Iraq below.

  • Monday, October 11, 2021 12:28 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    October 11, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist Kelly Richardson.

    HALO I, II and III are sequels to Camp, a video which presented a cliché of outdoor life filmed in 1998. The full moon on a summer evening is distorted by the heat rising from a crackling campfire. On the fire, popcorn bursts. With each burst, the moon dances.

    Twenty-three years after producing Camp, the promise of what summer brings has changed. HALO I presents a full, partially red moon distorted once again by heat rising from something burning and crackling out of shot. Embers float around and smoke swirls.

    Past, present and future, the HALO trilogy references the significant feedback loop we are now in after decades of warnings. Campfires are now banned in the summer in British Columbia. With severe, extended droughts being the new normal, the risk of wildfire is extreme. Compounding the threat, 2021 produced record temperatures reaching a staggering 49.6C, smashing the previous record by 4.6C. It is set to be the 3rd worst fire season on record, all of which were recorded within the last 5 years. Simultaneously, the UN declared that it is code red for humanity as a result of climate change.

    HALO I, 2021, 4k video, seamless loop, stereo audio HERE.

    HALO II, 2021, 4k video, seamless loop, stereo audio HERE.

    HALO III, 2021, 4k video, seamless loop, stereo audio HERE.

    Embers and the Giants presents an endangered old-growth forest during last light, articulated by thousands of floating embers of light. Initial impressions may be that we are witness to a rare and exceptionally beautiful display of fireflies or the embers from a forest fire out of frame. The longer viewers look, the more evident it becomes that we are not witnessing a natural spectacle. We are witnessing human intervention through thousands of tiny drones mimicking a natural spectacle, suggesting a time when we will need to amplify the spectacle of nature in order to convince the public of its worth.

    Embers and the Giants questions our calls for preservation at a time when large-scale environmental breakdown caused by climate change is not a case of if but when. The idea for the work was inspired by two news articles accessed in 2016 about threatened old-growth forests which, after the discovery of a natural spectacle (fireflies and giant trees respectively), successful cases for preservation were argued. Both areas are now extremely popular tourist destinations. In light of the terrifying fallout of continued, large-scale biodiversity loss worldwide, when are vital ecosystems worthy of preservation?

    Taking cues from 19th-century landscape painting, 20th-century cinema, and 21st-century planetary research, Kelly Richardson crafts video installations and digital prints that offer imaginative glimpses of the future, prompting careful consideration of the present. From 2003-2017 she resided in northeast England, where she was a Lecturer in Fine Arts at Newcastle University. She currently lives and works as a visitor on the traditional territory of the WSANEC peoples of the Coast Salish Nation on Vancouver Island, Canada. Richardson is a Professor in Visual Arts at the University of Victoria.

    Featured Images Above: ©Kelly Richardson, Halo I, II, III, 2021 (stills); Embers and the Giants, 2019, installation documentation.

  • Monday, October 04, 2021 8:56 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    October 4, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist Xavier Cortada.

    Commissioned by the Village of Palmetto Bay (Florida, USA), Art in Public Places program, Cortada's Flower Force sculpture sits on the traditional Tequesta hunting grounds (168th St & 82nd Ave). It is the epicenter of a participatory eco-art effort bringing Coreopsis plants and ceramic wildflower sculptures to 200 households in Palmetto Bay.

    This public art installation is the heart of Cortada's Flower Force initiative, where Palmetto Bay households will plant a perennial wildflower garden in their yard and receive ceramic flowers to install at their homes. Through this process, an ecological restoration effort will radiate from the flower sphere at the traffic circle in Palmetto Bay and the rest of Florida.

    "The original iteration of Flower Force in 2012 was designed as a participatory eco-art project using tiled paper drawings and flower seeds. Here, in its latest evolution, I focus on a residential neighborhood to draw in participants who will look at their lives through a continuum of time. Indigenous people hunted these lands for thousands of years. Colonizers have impacted Indigenous lands over the past five centuries in Florida. Conceptually, it also draws the Palmetto Bay residents across space, connecting a public artwork and garden at the traffic circle to their own private garden. It reorients them as problem-solvers who will begin to correct the degradation (development) in that space over time through their perennial restorative gardens. This engaged component is fundamental to my work and to my role as artist who wants to model how to transform the traditional role of artist beyond one who excels at his/her/their craft into an effective community leader/problem solver."

    "In my socially engaged art practice, participants are incorporated into problem-solving aspects of the work. I first engage them by reframing how the individuals see themselves in the context of one another and the natural world. Through a process of working and learning together, I invite participants to discover themselves as the protagonists of their future. By participating, their curiosity is piqued. The project emboldens them to become eco-emissaries who engage others to help them address these very concerns. In essence, it builds community.

    In this case, working through the Flower Force project, I aim to ask participants who drive by the public artwork every day to replicate it as a private garden and to present a small sculpture, across the community. Conceptually, I attempt to connect the individual (small private sculpture & garden at their home) to the public (large public sculpture and large garden) and, in that effort, to each other (including the other original participants plus those who will follow). Participants receive a ceramic flower plus perennial wildflowers for free. While this is an effective strategy for promoting involvement from its participants, it also allows for a process and sense of self-realization from its participants that permeate into collaborative efforts that are driven by that sense of community."

    Xavier Cortada is an artist, Professor of Practice at the University of Miami Department of Art and Art History, and Artist-in-Residence at Pinecrest Gardens (Florida), where his studio and socially engaged art practice are based. Cortada educates and inspires community members to work and learn together to solve ecological problems. The crux of his work is a deep conceptual engagement of the participants, generating awareness and action towards issues of global climate change and social justice. Cortada has created installations at the North and South Pole. As a National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program Fellow, he used the moving ice sheet beneath the South Pole to mark time; the art piece will be completed in 150,000 years. In 2008, he planted a green flag at the North Pole to reclaim it for nature and launched an eco-art reforestation effort. Cortada is the son of Cuban exiles and grew up in Miami, Florida. The Latino artist holds three degrees from the University of Miami: Bachelor of Arts, College of Arts and Sciences, Master of Public Administration, Miami Herbert Business School, and Juris Doctor, School of Law.

    Featured Images: ©Xavier Cortada,Flower Force, 2021.

    Below:©Xavier Cortada, Flower Force, 2021, Cortada with residents of the Village of Palmetto Bay, Florida.

  • Friday, October 01, 2021 9:10 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace October 2021 e-Newsletter is HERE

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