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


    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    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. marionwilson.com

    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)

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    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. billyx.net


    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)

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    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. meridelrubenstein.com


    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)


    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    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. kellyrichardson.net


    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)

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    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. cortada.com


    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

  • Friday, October 01, 2021 1:32 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    Art and Science: Portraits of Interconnectedness  interview with collaborators David Paul Bayles and Fred Swanson

    Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein 

    David Paul Bayles, photographer, and Fred Swanson, forest ecologist, are artists and science collaborators whose ongoing project portraying the ecological ramifications of human influence on Oregon trees creates both scientifically useful and hauntingly crafted portraits. In this work, art tells the story of the ongoing climate-related influences of the old-growth forest, and science provides factual information for making sound decisions. The most recent part of their series “Standing, Still,” presents the charred exteriors of trees after a forest fire. In conversation, they provide both warning and hope in the face of a blazing summer in the North-West of the United States.

    David, Fred, thank you so much for discussing your work with me! Let's dig right in.

    This summer’s fires have been shocking, and you have been extremely responsive in your collaborative work to portray the effects of forest fires in Oregon. These fires are the reality of what is right past your back doors and daily work. Working intricately with the forests for many years, were there signs that there would be this kind of a disaster prior to it happening? And how have you responded?

    FS: As an earth scientist working in a forest ecology world, I’ve been very attentive to “disturbance” events for a long time—fire, flood, volcanic eruption, logging, forest policy conflicts. From a geological perspective, the  natural processes in this list are frequent and integral parts of the regional landscape. I like to be as close to the action as possible to learn what’s happening in geophysical and ecological terms while also being attentive to human interactions. The extreme fire events in western Oregon in Sept 2020 were unprecedented in the period of European occupation (beginning in the 19th century). Still, tree-ring studies of forest history suggest similar events occurred ca. 500 years ago. The extreme heatwave of June 2021 scorched the foliage of trees in ways we have not seen before, but very few trees have died (so far). Still, this heatwave is a scary wake-up call for what climate change is bringing us.  In these two events, tree canopies were scorched from below by the fall 2020 fires burning through the understory and then scorched from above by the June 2021 heatwave, which is fascinating and worrisome.  

    DPB: My wife and I live surrounded by forest as well as industrial tree farms. Though we have not had any fires threateningly close, we live with the knowledge that it could happen. We will be on our own when it does, so the questions are when to leave and what to take. We can build a new home and studio, but when I imagine the landscape that would surround us post-fire, that is the difficult part.

    For decades scientists have been telling us we would be right where we are today. So, yes, the signs have been here all along. Anecdotally, we put tomatoes in the ground earlier in the spring, and this will be the first year we will have made it to October without turning the heat on in the mornings.   

    The extreme heatwave of June 2021 scorched the foliage of trees in ways we have not seen before, but very few trees have died (so far).


    When it does…we can build a new home and studio, but when I imagine the landscape that would surround us post-fire, that is the difficult part.

    The fires are quite a reality to come to terms with and to prepare for. It is telling how direct the results of warming have been in your direct surroundings. David, as a logger and photographer, and Fred, as a scientist and nature lover, you must have an intricate understanding of both the life and post-life of the trees that you work with. What has been your photographic mission in relation to the trees themselves?

    DPB: To be clear, I was a logger for four years in the mid-1970s. When and where I worked on US Forest Service land in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the timber sales were all selective cutting. When we left a logging site, 60-70% of the forest was still standing. Today’s clear cuts are a very different beast, and I am against industrial tree farming as practiced today.

    My photographic path (rather than a mission) has been to explore different facets of the complex relationship between trees/forests and human beings. I have long felt that the way we treat our forests can also be seen in the ways we treat other human beings.  

    FS: My mission in relation to trees and forests as a scientist has been to learn all I can concerning their history with regard to disturbance events, both natural and human-imposed. I have done this as a participant in a large, long-term ecosystem research team working in the old-growth of the Andrews Experimental Forest in the Oregon Cascades and at Mount St. Helens, which erupted in 1980. The stories from our studies are conveyed to the public through many channels, including works of artists and creative writers who have engaged with these places. I count on the citizenry to take in the sense of awe, wonder, and mystery revealed through these inquiries and be attentive to the natural world's well being.

    My photographic path (rather than a mission) has been to explore different facets of the complex relationship between trees/forests and human beings.


    I count on the citizenry to take in the sense of awe, wonder, and mystery revealed through these inquiries and be attentive to the natural world's well being.

    Fred, you describe how the citizenry should take in this sense of awe, but you must experience this working with the forest daily. You have studied the effects of climate on regional forests throughout the Western United States. What have been the major changes in the forests that you have studied over the past ten years?

    FS: Our home bioregion in the wet conifer forests along the Pacific Coast of the northwest US appears to be in the early stages of profound alteration by climate change. Certainly, other bioregions, such as polar regions, have experienced greater warming and have expressed more significant vulnerabilities as water takes liquid rather than solid forms in soil and on lakes, rivers, seas, and land surfaces. Our long-term research at the Andrews Experimental Forest in the Oregon Cascades shows that air temperature, even under the forest canopy, has been warming over the past 40 years, suggesting that the forest and stream ecosystems are subjected to multiple stresses. Perhaps this warming in the summer months is drying fuels, contributing to the increased intensity of wildfire. With support from the National Science Foundation, the US Forest Service, and other sources, we continue to be vigilant for ecosystem responses.

    A common motivation between basic science (Fred calls it ‘Wild Science’) and art is curiosity. We use different languages to explore and express, but motivations are similar.


    (David’s) reactions to forms and color prompts have led me to see and ponder the forest in ways new to me.  

    What incredible findings! The two of you have paired art and science to work as important collaborators in ecology. What can the two disciplines do best together? How have you both been able to build off each other’s work and unique perspectives?

    DPB: A common motivation between basic science (Fred calls it ‘Wild Science’) and art is curiosity. We use different languages to explore and express, but motivations are similar. By collaborating and using different languages, we can reach wider audiences. One of the greatest joys in this process has been to share a child-like curiosity with Fred. We both get down on the ground and stick our heads into burned-out stump caverns to look at the first bits of green fire moss or oxalis. A moment later, Fred points to a giant boulder and asks me, ‘Do you know where that came from?’ I’m thinking it’s a boulder. Didn’t it come from underground somewhere? He explains this particular rock was pushed down the canyon by the last glacier 13,000 years ago. Me—awestruck and grateful to share this journey with him.

    FS: I have long felt that scientists and their science communications have not been the greatest storytellers. The methods of science can be quite constraining.  So, it has been very refreshing to team up with David and visit a situation new to both of us—freshly burned forest. As David puts it, this is a fascinating common ground in which to exercise the common ground of our curiosities. His reactions to forms and color prompts have led me to see and ponder the forest in ways new to me. And, it is inspiring to see how others, both scientists and non-scientists, respond to his works and the forest. Even in its blackened state, there are beauty and mysterious manifestations of complexity and inter-connectedness.

    To draw from Robin, we need to be attentive to our “kinship” with trees and have “relationships of reciprocity.”


    In 1989, I participated with TreePeople in Los Angeles to plant Sequoia seedlings in the Sierras near the Mi-Wuk reservation… Loggers, Mi-Wuk, and urban Angelinos all planting trees together.

    Speaking of complexity and interconnectedness: as I write this, the oldest and largest sequoia tree in the world is being wrapped in fire protective blankets. What have been some efforts you have experienced of inter-species collaboration between humans and the trees?

    FS: Some human-forest relationships are simple and exploitative, like logging native forests and replacing them with simple plantations. But, in the words of Robin Kimmerer, this is not an “honorable harvest.” Some might argue that, by revealing their histories of disturbance and resilience in tree-ring and other records, forests are teaching us how we may selectively remove trees for our uses while leaving enough of the forest ecosystem that it can continue to function as complex, highly interconnected systems. Again, to draw from Robin, we need to be attentive to our “kinship” with trees and have “relationships of reciprocity.”

    DPB: In 1989, I participated with TreePeople in Los Angeles to plant Sequoia seedlings near the Mi-Wuk reservation in the Sierras. Steve Brye, as a volunteer, grew 7,000 seedlings and coordinated this effort with the US Forest Service. A group of urban environmentalists from LA went up to the Sierras to plant all the trees for a weekend. Since it was near where I used to be a logger, I organized some logging families who came out also to help plant the trees. To everyone’s delight and surprise that Saturday morning, Elders and others came from the reservation to bless the planting of the trees and help us plant. Loggers, Mi-Wuk, and urban Angelinos all planting trees together. We finished Sunday afternoon and were spontaneously invited to their Roundhouse to witness a drum and dance ceremony. It was a great weekend.


    There are parallels between how we live with each other and how we live with trees.

    These are such important messages of reciprocity and collaboration. In your description of “Standing, Still,” you describe, “Treetops broke off, plunging in the river. Limbs dangled, connected by tissues charred and crisp, and still, the cedars stood, a testament to their strength.” The description could also be used for the loss of human life in war. What are the parallels for you between the trees and the human experience?

    DPB: Great question—thank you. Fred and I chose specifically to narrow our attention to the forest itself, being quite aware, each time we drove up the highway of all the human loss. So many homes were reduced to concrete foundations with standing chimneys and melted twisted metal roofing. So, these portraits also reflect that. I also felt the collective “Disturbance” the pandemic brought to all of us with loss of life, jobs, incomes, etc. In my book Urban Forest there are images of trees trying to survive along our city streets which can also be seen as unhoused humans trying to survive our city streets. There are parallels between how we live with each other and how we live with trees.

    Fire immediately changed the forest dramatically, and now the forest is responding in amazing ways, fast and slow, physical, chemical, and biological.

    We can 3D print homes with adobe. We now need to leave trees in the ground, both alive and burned.

    I am so glad that you mentioned forest “management” since you both hold unique perspectives related to industrial processes and the forests you work with. David, in your recent work “Hazard Tree,” you discuss the industrial uses of the tree’s “destinies.” How has industry shaped these destinies, and how much of the destruction is necessary? Is there a balance within the forest that is being kept?

    DPB: This is a huge topic and difficult to narrow down to an article. It’s not possible to begin without acknowledging that there is, to varying degrees, a mutual dance in our capitalist society of supply and demand. For my first exhibit on this topic, I researched data that showed that from 1950 to 1990, the average family size shrunk from 6 to 4.5, and the average single-family home built increased from 1,200 square feet in 1950 to 2050 square feet in 1990.

    Another factor to consider, as we can no longer deny the climate is changing, is where and what is the balance point? For 5,000 years, we have used trees and forests for our purposes of building societies and civilizations. We now need trees and forests in a vastly different way. We can 3D print homes with adobe. We now need to leave trees in the ground, both alive and burned. 

    3D printing homes is a fantastic way that art and engineering can work together toward climate solutions. What are your hopes surrounding what art can do to create awareness for an ecological response? What can the artistic community do to help the forest recover?

    DPB: I hope all our creative endeavors can inspire awe, wonder, and appreciation to create changes in three ways. First, always ask ourselves what we can do personally to bring about the changes we want on a global level. Second, we can’t lose hope in finding ways to apply pressure politically. And third, if you can, donate money to legitimate conservation and land trust entities buying forest and prairie lands, setting them aside to grow and maintain healthy, natural ecosystems.  

    FS: I have had the pleasure of working with creative writers and artists in the amazing ancient forest of the Andrews Forest and the blast zone of Mount St. Helens since 2000. I see my mission as helping them find their stories in these compelling landscapes, which has taken place through the Long-Term Ecological Reflections program at the interface of the Andrews Forest science program and the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word in Oregon State University.


    Thank you both for joining me for this excellent discussion. Many of the insights you shared have been eye-opening, offering both warnings and hope in light of the recent disasters.

    DPB: Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein, thank you for this opportunity to share our experience in this way. It is very much appreciated. Thanks.

    FS: And a hearty thanks from me too. 


    Images: all photographs by David Paul Bayes are from his Standing, Still series and are numbered 3, 14, 13, 10, 5, 1, 12, 17 as seen from top to bottom.




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