The ecoartspace blog features artist profiles and interviews, as well as writings on ecological systems. We are interested in presenting work that our members 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
  • Thursday, March 24, 2022 12:19 PM | Anonymous


    March 22, 2022

    Keeper of the Waters

    Susan Hoffman Fishman 

    for Artists & Climate Change blog

    For the last 50+ years, eco-artist and environmental activist Betsy Damon has devoted herself to community building – the coming together of individuals to achieve a common purpose. Since the 1980s, after a decade of engaging the public through public performances in New York City, she has worked at the intersection of art and science, focusing on the topic of water and on creating models for communities in the United States and China to know and become stewards of their own water sources. The brief descriptions below, highlighting four of Damon’s many exhibitions, ecological and sustainable design projects, publications, and organizations are only a brief glimpse into her prolific and important body of work.

    Damon’s first major project on water came about after a cross-country camping trip with her children in 1983, during which she observed a number of dry riverbeds whose once flowing waters had been dammed and redirected. As a result of this experience and a growing reconnection to the natural world, she conceived of a project that would bring attention to the environmental loss that the dry riverbeds represented and serve as a living memory of the missing water. Damon was able to realize the project, called A Memory of Clean Water, when she brought together a group of master papermakers and local artists to create a paper casting covering 250 feet of a dry riverbed in Castle Rock, Utah. The stunning and powerful piece was installed in seven venues across the country from 1986 through 1991, including at the Danforth Museum in Framingham, Massachusetts; the University of Wisconsin at Madison; Everhart Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania; MoMA PS1 in New York City; and others.  

    A Memory of Clean Water was pivotal to the evolution of Damon’s practice. During its creationas she was working on her hands and knees placing paper pulp over rocks, she looked up and realized that the patterns of stars in the sky mirrored the patterns in the riverbed. Profoundly moved by this personal epiphany, she promised herself to learn as much as she could about water and has spent the rest of her life since then fulfilling that promise. 

    Continue reading HERE

  • Wednesday, March 23, 2022 11:05 AM | Anonymous


    Book Review

    Ecoart in Action: Activities, Case Studies, and Provocations for Classrooms and Communities

    Edited by Amara Geffen, Ann Rosenthal, Chris Fremantle and Aviva Rahmani

    by Thomas Wawzenek for New Art Examiner

    Ecoart in Action is a new book, published this year, that contributes to the growing literature on artistic responses to global warming and its consequences. While emphasizing the importance of artistic expression, this book also examines and illustrates the interconnection between art, science, and social activism and why the three are needed to work together to enact change.

    Compiled from 67 members of the Ecoart Network, a group of 200 internationally established practioners grounded in the arts, education and science, this book offers pragmatic solutions to critical environmental challenges that the world now faces. The framework in this book is organized into three sections (Activities, Case Studies, and Provocations) that examine diverse methods on how to create critical strategies in relation to environmental issues. Each contribution offers templates for ecoart practices that are adaptable within a variety of classroom settings and community groups.

    There are 25 activities that make use of various mediums such as art, photography, collage and writing that allow participants to not only reflect on their relationship with nature but also experience the dynamics of working with others in a group setting. Many of these group projects heighten one’s level of critical thinking while utilizing the imagination when creating art.

    While many activities are designed specifically for either children or adults, there are some activities that can be enjoyed by both. A good example of the latter is a banner-making project. In this endeavor, participants who live in an urban environment learn about native species such as plants, insects and animals that play a vital role in an urban setting. The participants express their new-found knowledge by composing and painting banners that can be presented as artwork in the community. This activity not only educates people as to how nature is often taken for granted in cities and large towns, but also engenders a sense of community pride. A more ambitious activity, that is geared for students ages 8 through 17, is an energy camp where students learn the basic scientific principles about energy production and how our consumption of nonrenewable energy impacts the environment. The end result is for students to use their creativity and problem-solving skills to discover innovative solutions by building a fully operational solar sculpture or a functional prototype.

    Continue reading HERE

  • Monday, March 21, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    March 21, 2022

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Cherie Sampson.

    "For over 25 years my artistic work has encompassed site-specific environmental performance, sculpture and video art. Many of the works have been created in wilderness, rural and cultivated landscapes in the U.S. and abroad, inspired and informed by the unique geographies, elemental forces, built environments and cultural connections of place. At the center of my art is the presence of the natural world, physically and/or symbolically, and that of my body within those spaces. My performances occur in sculptural installations I construct in nature or other environments, for events attended by live audiences, or ‘staged’ exclusively for the camera in the form of still and moving imagery."

    "A significant body of my work has been created in the boreal landscapes of Finland over a twenty-year period. In 1998, while living there for nine months, I initiated the making of video-performances, a practice that has continued to the present. These began as minimalist, one-take videos in analog format sited in diverse “found landscapes” (as one Finnish scholar described) such as mossy forests, arctic tundra and snow-covered terrain. Performing in glacially slow movement, my naked body became an extension of the landscape in an embodiment of temporality in nature – cyclical changes often not perceptible in the moment in gradual process, but as if after-images. With the advance of digital technologies these works have become more layered and mosaiced. While I maintain the integrity of the slow movement in real time in post-production, I now utilize more manipulation of the imagery using masking, mirroring and other techniques to further abstract the body and represent multiple gestures within a single frame. The bodies may appear at once human, animal and vegetative, reflecting patterns in the environment and contemplating the stirring and stilling of time through an interplay of fixed and moving imagery."

    "Other performance works have occurred in a variety of settings attended by live audiences. These may take place within sculptural spaces I construct of local and natural materials in the environment, installations in indoor venues and/or public spheres. The projects often require significant preliminary and on-site research as they are informed and inspired by local legends, origins stories or myths associated with the locations in which they are presented."

    "Classical traditions from both west and east have profoundly impacted my performance work, as widely varied as the folkloric “rune-singing” culture of Karelian Finland and the classical dance forms of India. For a decade I have been studying the South Indian dance form, Bharatanatyam. Its complex formal structure and mimetic storytelling methods have profoundly impacted my movement vocabulary in both the live and video-performance work. Currently I am working with the dance form's dramaturgy in the performance project, “every.single.one” that portrays my recent experience with hereditary breast cancer. In many ways, this is a significant departure in my work due to the medical and autobiographical nature of the subject matter. Nonetheless, the environment still plays a vital role. During treatment, I continued to make video-performances in the landscape and documented the healing process that included walks in nature, working in the garden, forest wildcrafting and swimming in a northern Wisconsin lake – my first full immersion in water several weeks after surgery."

    Cherie Sampson has worked for over 25 years as an interdisciplinary artist in environmental performance, sculpture and video art. She has exhibited internationally in live performances, art-in-nature symposia, video/film screenings and installations in the US, Finland, Norway, Holland, Cuba, France, Greece, Italy, India, Spain, Argentina, South Korea, Hong Kong and other countries. Sampson is the recipient of a number of fellowships & grants including two Fulbright Fellowships to Finland (1998 & 2011), a Finnish Cultural Foundation Grant (North Karelia Fund), three Finlandia Foundation Grants and multiple internal research grants for artistic projects from the University of Missouri. She divides her time between the University of Missouri where she is an Associate Professor of Art and her organic farm in Northeast Missouri where she creates some of her art works in the cultivated and wooded environments. She is the current President of Artists in Nature International Network (AiNIN). Sampson received her Master of Fine Art Degree in Intermedia & Video Art from the University of Iowa in 1997 with a minor in Sculpture. cheriesampson.net

    Featured Images: ©Cherie Sampson, “Burning of the Birch” (2018); "Limb to Limbs, Flesh & Home" (1998); "Let a Sleeping Bear Lie," (2016); "every.single.one" (2017), Photographic series/performances for the camera; "Mettä Vuoti Kuivat Kuuset" (2012); "Tufiarte" (2014).


  • Tuesday, March 15, 2022 8:41 PM | Anonymous


    Issue Twenty : Winter 2022 / Feature

    RIVER FUGUES

    By Margaret Cogswell

    I’ve known rivers:
    I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

    My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

    Langston Hughes
    The Negro Speaks of Rivers[1]

    What is it to “know” rivers? As an artist I have been asking myself this question for over twenty years. Ever since an artist residency in Cleveland, Ohio led to my encountering the burning river history of the Cuyahoga River, I realized that all rivers have stories, and to learn of their histories was to explore and listen.

    Simon Schama, in the introduction to his book, Landscape and Memory, describes this kind of exploration beautifully:

    Landscape and Memory has been built around such moments of recognition as this, when a place suddenly exposes its connections to an ancient and peculiar vision of the forest, the mountain, or the river. A curious excavator of traditions stumbles over something protruding above the surface of the commonplaces of contemporary life. He scratches away, discovering bits and pieces of a cultural design that seems to elude coherent reconstitution but which leads him deeper into the past. [2]

    In this essay, I will focus on my research on different rivers, sharing the meandering paths which have led me to explore these rivers and my creative responses to them in the form of mixed-media art installations that seek to reflect the complex relationships between land, water, and peoples. To contextualize the impetus for what developed into an ongoing series of River Fugues projects, I will offer some personal history. Although I was born in the United States (in Memphis, Tennessee along the Mississippi River), I went to Japan with my parents when I was 18 months old and lived there until I was 13 years old. Coming back to the United States at age 13 was like moving to a foreign country. Although I was bilingual and spoke English as well as Japanese, I did not know this country’s history, or understand its culture. My early efforts to better understand this country were through the study of literature. This led to my efforts to explore the intervals between words and what cannot be translated, and eventually to my work as a visual artist.

    Continue reading here Open Rivers: Rethinking Water Place and Community



  • Tuesday, March 15, 2022 10:24 AM | Anonymous

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    March 14, 2022

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Ulrike Arnold.

    "Earth has been the theme of my work over four decades, in a most concrete and tangible way: I use it when I paint outside allowing nature— wind, rain and sun—to be my accomplices."

    Arnold’s paintings can be viewed as a tactile micro or macrocosmos. They preserve and structure a fraction of the skin of our earth from close up while also allowing for a perspective from outer space. They are a reminder both of the beauty and of the vulnerability of the planet we all need to protect.

    "OneWorldPainting (above) is a dialogue of Earth from five continents including salt and sands from deserts, volcanoes and prehistoric caves, rock formations and river beds. It is symbolic of the deep communion of all the nations in the world. Two large canvases, are displayed together as a giant exclamation mark, a political statement to honor, preserve and protect the very soil on which all mankind walks. I have used colors from my trips over the past 40 years, minerals that glimmer and mud that provides a wealth of shades; reds, blues, yellows and greens. When these two canvas pieces combine, they create a harmonious and beautiful ensemble, a call to every individual and to all nations for peace and protection of our natural environment. A powerful statement to move forward."

    Arnold's paintings are an open invitation to the viewer to connect to our planet, to trigger an awareness of our coming and going. They capture something of the beauty of the earth which has been resisting the onslaught of climate change and multiple crises. For 17 years, Arnold has also painted with meteorite dust, which she gets from a Meteor researcher, she met by coincidence. This material is witness to the origin of our planet in the solar system. Her paintings pay homage to the earth and its place within the cosmos.

    Ulrike Arnold paints with earth, sand and rocks. She travels to remote places on all continents, where she paints in situ, exposed to the weather and the natural forces of the environment. She collects her painting materials and mixes them with a binder to paint her huge canvases. They capture the essence of the places, where she travels. Arnold was born is Düsseldorf, Germany and currently lives and works between Düsseldorf and Flagstaff, Arizona. ulrikearnold.com

    Featured Images: ©Ulrike Arnold, outdoor studio in Utah; (3) Gif images are "Cueva de la Chulacao, Atacama, Chile" (2014); "Cordillera de la Sal, Atacama, Chile" (2014); "Valle de Arcoiris, Atacama, Chile" (2014); "OneWorldPainting"(2019); "Meteorite #04," (2021); "Full Moon" (1991), Bisbee, Arizona, double-sided painting with earth and meteorite dust in the former collection of Dennis Hopper; below is the artist's portrait by Petra W. Barathova.


  • Monday, March 07, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    March 7, 2022

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Chrissie Orr.

    Orr is a co-founder of SeedBroadcasta collaborative project exploring bioregional agri-Culture and seed action through collective inquiries and hands-on creative practices. SeedBroadcast holds the belief that it is a human right to save seeds and share their gifts, to grow food and share its abundance, and to cultivate grassroots wisdom and share its creativity. Engagement includes community based projects, installations, dialogues, creative actions, experiential practices and cross country tours with the Mobile Seed Story Broadcasting Station.

    Seed: Climate Change Resilience is a community engaged arts project exploring seed, arid-land agri-Culture, resiliency, and climate change. Created by SeedBroadcast, a New Mexico based arts and agri-Culture collective, in collaboration with numerous New Mexico farmers and seed stewards, this project features an interactive public exhibition to inspire and activate dialogue around seed, global warming, local food, healthy communities, and the revitalization of bioregional agri-Cultural practices.

    SeedBroadcast agri-Culture Journal is a bi-annual collection of poetry, inspired thoughts, essays, photographs, drawings, recipes, How-to’s and wisdom gathered together from a national call out to lovers of local food and seeds.  This journal supports collaboration and the sharing of seeds, stories, resources, and inspiration within local communities and between individuals, while also providing pollination through diversified regional, national, and international internet-media networks.

    "Fodder Project Collaborative Research Farm hosted the first Meeting of the Seeds, a gathering of local farmers and gardeners who shared their saved seeds and gardens during Interviews in the Field. This meeting included a Roundbale dialogue, where we shared the Collective Seed Book, a culmination of photographs and statements from each participant. We also listened to each others’ stories about the 2011 year of growing local food, saving seeds, and coping with the regional water crisis and drought. We then sat down to a potluck dinner that included dishes made from everyone’s gardens and farms. At the end of the evening seeds were exchanged. Anton Chico, New Mexico." 

    Chrissie Orr is an artist, animateur and creative investigator focused on developing “a relational aesthetic around community and site with issues relevant to both.” Orr has created innovative, provocative community-based projects in diverse areas of the world and is recognized internationally for her pioneering work. She is a co-founder of the SeedBroadcast Collective and co-founder of the Academy for the Love of Learning’s Institute for Living Story and is presently the Academy’s Creative Practice Fellow. She has kept a journal for more years than she can remember, their broken worn spines line her bookshelves and contain her secret memory lines. One day she might share these. In her spare time she grows ancient varieties of corn and beans to learn new ways of being in this world and loves to instigate beautiful trouble. seedbroadcast.org

    Featured Images: ©SeedBroadcast, "Seed: Climate Change Resilience," "Meeting of the Seeds."


  • Friday, March 04, 2022 12:36 PM | Anonymous


    March 4, 2022

    On Salt, Seaweed, and Disappearing Places

    Susan Hoffman Fishman for Artists & Climate Change

    California-based artist, writer, and researcher Christina Conklin grew up spending summers along the coast of Oregon where she first developed a relationship with and understanding of the ocean as “an infinite vessel” of ever-changing and interconnected living systems. For the last 12 years, her artwork has explored the intersection of art, science, and spirituality as it relates to the sea. 

    Conklin’s career path prior to her current focus as an artist and writer on the ocean in the context of the climate crisis, included work in the publishing and non-profit sectors, after which she became a full-time textile artist and freelance writer. Acknowledging her background in textiles, she admits that all of her artwork has what she calls “textility,” an inherent textural quality. It also incorporates her long-time interest in spirituality and philosophy, which she attributes to her background as an undergraduate religious studies major at Middlebury College in Vermont.


    Apophacy, glass vessel, hanging wire, 12 gallons of water, 8 pounds of salt, 13 ft. diameter, 2014

    From 2012-2014, during her MFA program at California College of the Arts, Conklin created process-based, ephemeral works that combined scientific experimentation with artmaking and contemplative practice. For these pieces, she used salt and water as her primary media, which she applied directly onto the floor. In Apophacy (see photo above), for example, the salt and water mixture created a rough, almost bubbly surface, like a primordial mix, thick in some areas and thin in others. From above, the floor-based installation had a globe-like appearance, suggesting bodies of water and land formations. Its title references a theological term for “the ineffable nature of that which could be called sacred and the unsaying of all the words that so often fail to approach its description.”

    Continue reading HERE


  • Tuesday, March 01, 2022 10:51 AM | Anonymous


    “Tree Talk,” 2018, Ponderosa Pine Tree sonification

    Anne Yoncha Interview by
    Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Anne Yoncha speaks with the trees. Through biodata depiction using galvanometer sensors and speakers, Yoncha presents the experience of plants, peat and prairie grasses in an eye opening, often minimal, aesthetic. By presenting biodata in its raw form, she allows the environment to be amplified so that all of us can hear the stories of the Pines. Based in Oklahoma, USA, the artist works closely with scientists and composers to create multisensorial interactions between humanity and an otherwise invisible world.

    Art allows us to see, feel, hear environmental processes that are otherwise invisible to us, operating at a different scale or a different timeframe.



    “Succession: A Visual Score” 2019, sonified biodata composed with cello recording

    Much of your work encompasses and visualizes existing issues and studies related to environmental sciences. What can art as a platform do that research alone cannot?

    Art allows us to see, feel, hear environmental processes that are otherwise invisible to us, operating at a different scale or a different timeframe. We suddenly have access to a more direct understanding of an experience beyond our typical human one. Maybe we are able for a moment to experience some of the processes and pressures on a lifeform which is not our own. Maybe it leads us to draw parallels to our own experience (for example, our human death from embolism would be physiologically similar to a plant’s death from drought). Maybe it leads us to act, or maybe just to be curious. I think this open, questioning, expanded experience is crucial as we can increasingly access more information, because information doesn’t always lead to understanding. When understanding of our ecological problems is limited, artists have historically been successful in uncovering background narratives, shaping how scientifically declared emergencies are perceived and acted upon.

    Artists have historically been successful in uncovering background narratives, shaping how scientifically declared emergencies are perceived and acted upon.


    “Second Wind” 2019, Depicting pine tree wind velocity

    In order to create this awareness, you often use technologies to transcribe environmental phenomena like in Tree Talk or Succession: A Visual Score or Second Wind. These pieces are embodiments of usually unheard environmental interaction. How do you collaborate or use tools as a bridge for understanding? What is this process like?

    I first became interested in this idea of transcription in 2018 when I was playing with a galvanometer sensor and some Ponderosa pine seedlings. We had a room of artists and plant physiologists, using a synthesizer to make the plants sound, at one moment, like an uplifting orchestra, at the next, a quieter, mournful organ. Any decision we made about how to sonify the data was entangled with our subjective choices. In “Succession”, I wanted to explore this idea of reading and interpreting data about two plant groups in conflict. The drawing was my own reading of the place, the data overlay was the sensor reading. Then, I handed the project off to my collaborators, and they read the piece too. Now, as the red cursor moves across the video, the viewer is the last reader. In “Second Wind”, I was interested in performing data –wind data, in the gallery, in real time. We are so focused on collecting data, gathering it, analyzing it later. So, giving it a moment on “stage” and letting it go seemed like a bit of a radical act. Would we pay more attention to it, knowing we could only keep it for a moment?

    Would we pay more attention to it, knowing we could only keep it for a moment?


    “RE:Peat, Layers of Peat in Northern Finland, a Look and Listen” 2019

    By performing data, you are letting the elements speak for themselves rather than through interpretation. As a result, much of your work is highly educational and revealing about the world otherwise unseen. Do you have a mission for this work? What has been your inspiration?

    Media theorist Boris Groys wrote about the difference between the digital image file, which is always consistent but impossible to experience, versus the digital image, which we experience as a unique manifestation each time we open the file. I am interested in the distinction between the data itself and our experience of it. Philosopher Albert Borgmann’s “device paradigm” critiques how we consume technological devices and their outputs yet separate ourselves from their mechanics. The digital world has brought us so much connection at the price of so much detachment. I want to extend this thinking into the bio-art realm, building scientific and aesthetic understanding of how we consume ecological systems, while conceptually and emotionally separating ourselves from the damage we do to them. I also see my work as a way for me – and hopefully if all goes well, viewers also – to pay attention. Many of my projects are assignments I give myself to satisfy curiosity about how digital and analog processes work.

    …the bio-art realm, building scientific and aesthetic understanding of how we consume ecological systems, while conceptually and emotionally separating ourselves from the damage we do to them.


    Lab (2018), Pine Seedling Regrowth, Study and Sonification

    So, you are acting not just as a translator between environments, but also between digital and material. Many of the materials you employ are machine based or highly tactile like cloth or painted paper. What appeals to you about this contrast between rationality and tactility?

    Tactility makes us feel something! But in all seriousness, I first heard the term “data materialization” from fellow artist Courtney Starrett and it has stuck with me ever since. We can do more than just visualize data. The materials and processes we use can also add meaning and impact. This is fun for me, too, because it means I can learn new processes based on each place and ecosystem I’m making work about. I love this contrast between rationality and tactility, between subjectivity and objectivity, because it gets blurred once you really break down our methods of collecting and interpreting information. I try to make work which points out that slipperiness.

    The materials and processes we use can also add meaning and impact.

    Thank you, Anne, for a wonderful interview! I look forward to hearing where your work takes you next. Oliva


  • Tuesday, March 01, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous


    The ecoartspace March 2022 e-Newsletter is HERE



  • Monday, February 28, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous


    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    February 28, 2022

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Betsy Damon.

    "Our world’s living systems are endlessly exciting and constantly humbling in their complexity. My skills as an artist allow me to center water as the foundation to all life. In my journey to understand water, my partner is science and my driving purpose is curiosity. I look through the mist to examine the vast expanse of interconnected living systems that contains you and me."


    In 1985, after a cross-country camping trip with her children, Damon found herself reconnected to the primal elements of the natural world --the sound of wind, the flow of water, the forest, the rain. This initiated the casting of a 250-foot dry riverbed, "The Memory of Clean Water," which brought her attention to the invisible destruction that development was having on water sources. In the early evening, while casting the riverbed, Betsy looked up to realize that the stones of the riverbed were patterned like the stars of the sky, that everywhere were the patterns of water. She committed herself to learning everything about water, little did she know that 27 years later she would still be deeply entrenched.

    Beginning with the creation of Keepers of the Waters in 1991, Damon has continued to work towards creating community-based models of water stewardship. Her work includes sculpture, teaching, lectures, and workshops. In China, she created the nation's first public art event for the environment, and most notably the Living Water Garden, a world-renowned public park and natural water filtration model. In the US, she is continuously working with communities and grassroots groups, as well as completing art and design commissions.


    Betsy Damon's inspiration comes from extensive research of sacred water sites, and her curiosity for the biology and earth sciences that compose living systems. Always seeking new ways to articulate the complexity of water and engage communities in caring for this precious resource, Damon continues her passion.

    Betsy Damon is the founder and director of Keepers of the Water, a nonprofit organization that encourages art, science and community projects for the understanding and remediation of living water systems. Forty years ago, Damon stepped outside her traditional art training and carved a unique path to work with the environment, communities, science and art. She was engaged in the women's movement of the 1970s, where she founded No Limits for Women Artists, a network to join and support female artists. In 1985, while making a cast of a dry riverbed in Castle Valley, Utah, she decided to devote the rest of her artistic life to water. She started Keepers of the Waters in 1991 with the support of the Hubert Humphrey Institute. Damon received an MFA from Columbia University in 1966. www.betsydamon.com www.keepersofthewater.org

    Featured Images (Top to Bottom): ©Betsy Damon, "Mist Rising," "A Memory of Clean Water" (1985), "Living Water Garden" (1998), "Principles of Water" (2019), "Sounds of Water" (2004).


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