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
  • Friday, February 19, 2021 10:01 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Close up of Bee hologram installed in 'First View' exhibition at Garter Lane Art Centre, Waterford City, Ireland, 2019. Digital image.

    Sensory Response: Susie Kelly’s Holograms

    Interview by Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Through multi-sensory works that enrapture and bring the viewer into a space beyond the imagination and into the real, Susie Kelly addresses both environmental and geopolitical topics that grip the whole sensory body. She brings eco-art into the digital era through holographic works and new media. The inspiration she takes from her environment and as a grandmother brings home that human-made climate issues are prevalent and will be passed on to the next generation. Through her daring body of work, she reverberates and heightens the discussions within her community to create a global and existential grip that only art can accomplish.


    Miasma, 2020, Installation, media includes recycled plastic, recycled net, wire, wool (used to sew recycled plastic fibre to net), holographic imagery in lightbox.

    In Hologram, you tackle the oil industry with a large cloud of smoke made from recycled  materials. What created the inspiration for this piece? Has your area also been affected  by rigging and air pollution?

    In a way, Miasma is a celebration of Ireland doing the right thing. Ireland is a tiny,  naturally beautiful island, yet gas companies have caused landslides and untold environmental damage on the west coast. Peat was excavated from bogs by the state and individuals until very recently, destroying natural habitats, local flora, and fauna. Our  Environmental Protection Agency has carried out environmental impact studies for fracking. In 2013 oil was discovered off the coast in areas of natural beauty. Opinions were split, with some foreseeing great wealth but much more anticipating destruction of natural habitats and damaged biodiversity. In 2019, Ireland announced the decision to end exploration for fossil fuels at the UN climate summit making us one of the first countries worldwide to get out of oil and gas production due to the impact on climate. I  suppose that announcement coupled with Irish visual artist John Gerrard’s virtual artwork, Western Flag, was my inspiration for creating Miasma.


    As an artist I believe part of my job is to engage people’s imaginations, to inspire affection and empathy for the ecosystem of which we are all part. 


    You describe how your interest in ecologies and ecological destruction stems from  concerns revolving human impact and your grandchildren’s future. Can you discuss what  your hopes are to counter those impacts? 

    Artists and young people are where my hopes lie to counter the causes of rampant biocide and consequent climate change. As an artist I believe part of my job is to engage people’s imaginations, to inspire affection and empathy for the ecosystem of which we are all part.

    People like Greta Thunberg, groups such as Extinction Rebellion, and blogs such as ecoartspace offer hope and action. Young people are more aware and engaged with the issue than ever before. For example, 33 European governments have been ordered by the European Court of Human Rights to respond to a ground-breaking, crowd-funded climate change court case initiated by four Portuguese children and two young adults.  They argue that governments are not moving fast enough to decrease climate destabilizing greenhouse gas emissions. To protect their “future physical and mental wellbeing, to prevent discrimination against the young and protect our rights to exercise outdoors and live without anxiety”. Should the court decide the young people are correct, states will be legally compelled to act and enforce action to address emissions for which they and multinationals operating within their borders engaged in operations such as extractive activities, trade, and deforestation are responsible.
        
    My next body of work is about symbiosis and how we are all part of a  whole. I think that the crux of the problem is that as technology has progressed,  western civilization has separated itself from nature. I hope that by highlighting interdependencies we can move forward symbiotically. 


    Close up of hologram exhibited at GOMA, Waterford City, Ireland, Dec. 2020 - Feb 2021. Digital image.

    What atmosphere would you like to create with your hologram installations and videos? Would you like people to feel intimidated or forewarned or informed? 

    Strangely, I anticipated people might feel a sense of foreboding or oppression when viewing the cloud, prompting a review of their contribution to climate change, and perhaps curiosity with the holograms. The temptation to be didactic could be bubbling under the surface but I am happy if viewers take away a sense of wonder and curiosity, a  wish to know more, an instinct that there is more to know. The experience is that the cloud provokes play, inviting people to touch it, lie under, and be photographed with it. People also relate it to mental health or the pandemic. With Hologram, people are charmed, mesmerized, and curious.

     

    In the end I felt the idea of birdsong and oil combined well with the ability to touch the materiality of the cloud. They caused that incongruent, disruptive sense of something not being quite right that might prompt further reflection. 


    Hologram is a multi-sensorial work using smell, sight and sound. How has your  experience been working with sensorial curation? How has your approach been  different while working with multiple senses? 

    The idea of a multi-sensorial exhibition was something I had been percolating for some time. I had previously worked with sound and incongruence and wanted to stretch that further to include olfaction and touch senses. Creating a relatively calm, uncluttered space was important, to allow the soundscape and olfactory elements to be experienced. Accessibility is something to be seriously considered when creating an exhibition, particularly a visual one. Whether someone with sight or hearing challenges attended, they would get something from it. The olfactory element was something I  grappled with, whether to go ahead with the scent of burning oil or to try to incorporate natural smells. In the end, I felt the idea of birdsong and oil combined well with the ability to touch the materiality of the cloud. They caused that incongruent,  disruptive sense of something not being quite right that might prompt further reflection. 


    Maya process shot, 2020. Digital image.

    What do you find most inspiring about the pumpjack? What was your process in digitizing and animating it? 

    The pumpjack is a strong visual shape and structure. It is almost universally recognized as something to do with oil and fossil fuels. It also evokes in my mind the human heart,  its automaticity, the cyclical nature of the pumping mechanism. So, for me, the cyclical, visceral nature of the movement evokes the human microbiome. You cannot help but be mesmerized by it. All of the parts in synchrony.  The pumpjack was created using Maya software in three distinct phases, Modelling,  Texturing, and Animating. This process was repeated for the iterations where it appears to transform from pumpjack to playground. Each was rendered and exported to Adobe  Premiere Pro as png groups and edited into sequences. Following that, I copied each of the sequences x4 to create the holographic video. I used two methods to play the holograms, a trapezoidal acetate projector I made to fit a 19” square screen and a  hologram fan. I have a slight preference for the acetate method. There are many more technical modes of projection, but I felt those two were most suitable for this artwork.


    Reusing materials that do not cause further environmental damage is something I adopt as an artist to minimize my personal CO2 number. This remains a priority in my practice.


    How has working with digital technology and installation helped you create your message? 

    Creating works of a relatively monumental scale, reflecting the “hyper-objectness” of the climate change/symbiocene issue, reusing materials that do not cause further environmental damage is something I adopt as an artist to minimize my CO2 number. This remains a priority in my practice. The idea of creating digital work that augments and speaks to that priority came from a desire to communicate the circularity of the issue, and possible solutions, without exacerbating in any way, the problem. It was something I needed to resolve for myself as a practicing artist.

    Audiences are more open to digital work now than in the past. Learning to use various software applications enabled me to be nimble, to adapt my practice. I find that working with digital technology enables unlimited experimentation when compared to physical material outcomes in the studio. A common misconception is that making digital work is easier than the physical. As somebody who makes both, I am keenly aware that it takes high skill levels and knowledge of the principles of visual art to create successful digital artworks in much the same way as it does physical works. Granted, mistakes are relatively straightforward to rectify, I often thank the universe for backups and the undo button!


    Process shot creating pumpjack structure in Maya. 2020. Digital image.

    What have been the most rewarding and most challenging aspects of this work? 

    Most rewarding has been two aspects. The first is having the model work as a  somewhat believable entity. There was a huge amount of work involved. Bearing in mind  I was learning the software ‘on the fly,’ I spent over 500 hours working on screen, so it is rewarding when it comes together. The second is the genuine interest and enjoyment people experience while looking at the hologram. It is quite simple looking when displayed in a gallery, yet for many viewers, it is a source of fascination and hopefully thought-provoking. The most challenging aspect was probably to do with convincing people that holograms are legitimate media to employ when making visual art. While holography is not new, it is certainly niche. Having researched the history and arguments surrounding stereography/ holography in the art world, I believe that there is a place in my practice that can be fulfilled only through holographic imagery. There is a long history of the art world resisting new media, going back to photography. It does not neatly fit into any category, although now with “new media” including VR there is a chink in the wall.

    susiekelly.com



  • Wednesday, February 03, 2021 11:44 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace February 2021 e-Newsletter is HERE

  • Wednesday, January 20, 2021 12:53 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Image Credit: Christopher Reiger

    Familiars

    By: Christopher Reiger

    Written by Christopher Reiger for Humans and Nature, Chicago

    In the fall of 2019, a little over a year after my family moved from San Francisco to Sonoma County, I looked up one morning while driving my two young boys to daycare and preschool and saw the familiar “V”-formation, or skein, of Canada geese flying over Route 12. I’m a nature nerd, and I’m forever trying to excite my kids about natural history; I pointed the birds out to the preschooler and I asked him what species they were. He answered correctly, and I felt that wonderful surge of daddy pride that’s really just my ego being stoked.

    But the good feeling didn’t last long—my son asked me where the geese were going. I didn’t know. I hazarded a guess that, perhaps because the birds were flying west, they were headed to graze on the dairy farms near the Laguna de Santa Rosa wetlands, but I was frustrated that I couldn’t give him a more sure answer.

    Growing up, when a flight of geese passed overhead, depending on the species and time of day, not only could I tell you, with confidence, where they were headed—a salt marsh, perhaps, or a farmer’s field—but I could usually name the specific spot. I could tell you the geese were heading for the tidal estuary at the outlet of Rattrap Creek, or Buck Lane’s winter wheat field behind the post office. When a child spends as much time outdoors as I did, and they have a parent or parents who are deeply invested in the local ecology, it’s almost inevitable that they will become intimately acquainted with the land and the other animals, the nonhuman animals, that also call the place home.

    As a kid, I regularly explored our nearly 300-acre coastal Virginia farm, and at times it felt as though I could summon an animal. Not literally, of course, but I’d find myself in a loblolly pine grove on a warm afternoon with the sun slanting just so, and I’d “feel” that I was going to encounter a black rat snake. Then there it would be. I don’t believe I was actually sensing these creatures before I spotted them, but I was so in tune with the farm that I knew—even without thinking about it—when and where I was likely to encounter different species.

    But that was thirty years ago on the other side of the country, on the Delmarva Peninsula, the narrow strip of land between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. My parents still live there, and my family visits at least once a year, but I’m no longer rooted there. Frankly, I’m no longer rooted anywhere—which is, for most of us, typical.

    My father lived in two dozen places before he married my mother. In 1970, they purchased the farm on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and, a few years later, abandoned their professional and personal attachments to Washington, D.C., and New York City, and settled full-time on Heron Hill, the name they gave to the Virginia property. My father is a writer, and in one of his books, a 1994 memoir about his stewardship of the farm, he writes about continuity in our American imagination.

    Continue reading HERE




  • Thursday, January 07, 2021 11:16 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    Below are the recordings for the Memorial Zoom event for Amy Lipton (1956-2020) and two readings by ecoartspace members presented in the second recording. You can view the list of speakers HERE

    Part One: (click on image)


    Part Two: (click on image)



    E.J. McAdams:

    Mother Tree Elegy (For Amy Lipton)

    Consider a forest:
    each tree transforms
    sunlight into sugar.

    Consider a forest:
    each tree connects
    through mycorrhizal threads

    sapling to standing tree
    sharing carbon and nutrients.
    Often, at the center, there is

    what scientists call a “mother tree”
    a towering giant source
    sinking resources sufficient

    for the benefit of kin,
    seedlings, injured older trees,
    the shaded, and severely stressed.

    No scientist has the technology (yet)
    to say what it is like to be in
    cooperation like this and what it feels

    like to lose the mother tree in a forest,
    any forest, even a forest of artists.
    The scientist simply makes field notes:

    When a tree dies, the trees still live.
    When a tree dies, the trees still live.
    When a tree dies, the trees still live.


    Aviva Rahmani:

    Sue Spaid asked me to write a prompt about friendship for Amy for my recent project, the Hunt for the Lost. That project pivoted on another important election, the one we are still skirmishing over. I wrote:

    We lost a friend and found a sorrow.
    Finding a friend is always like growing a new part of myself.
    Losing a friend is an amputation.
    Conversations linger in memory like phantom limbs.
    Time claims us each and every one of us in death.
    Loss is tempered by recalling your gifts but still,
    Lost and gone.
    Farewell dear friend.
    Last conversations unfinished, the next show stillborn.
    Or.
    Peacefully sleeping, dreaming-in-waiting for someone to pick up your torch.


  • Monday, January 04, 2021 9:59 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Kim Stringfellow, The Mojave Project; Image courtesy of the artist

    Documenting the Desert

    mojaveproject.org

    Written by Genie Davis for Art and Cake, Los Angeles


    Captivating and inclusive, artist Kim Stringfellow’s latest documentary work, The Mojave Project, takes viewers on a compelling ride into the Mojave desert. Evocative images show us beautiful and lonely places, tourism in off-beat locations, the people who inhabit those locations, and the culture they create. It is both intensely real and dream-like, inviting us to step inside a world we might not otherwise see.

    I’ve long visited many of the desert locations Stringfellow explores, and met some of its denizens. Her evocation of place is dazzling; it’s both a return for me and a deep dive.

    According to Stringfellow, The Mojave Project “pretty much continues my interest in documenting culture, history, environment and geography of the American West’s arid regions.” However, she says it differs from past bodies of work because this time around she shared her documentation as she researched and produced it via a long-form blogging platform. That platform “allowed my audience to suggest tips or subjects for upcoming field dispatches or comment on past ones.” Prior to this project, she conducted and complete her research before releasing a finished project, whether that was an audio tour, a book, or exhibition. But the “open format” this time around worked well for the artist, who also began creating short documentary films.

    Read the rest of the article HERE


  • Sunday, January 03, 2021 12:05 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    submitted by Aviva Rahmani

    Kim Stanley Robinson's new book is, The Ministry For The Future. It is a long utopian novel that begins in our collective immediate future by tracking the consequences of environmental neglect. Starting from the Paris Agreement, he then tracks one woman’s life as the minister of the Ministry of the Future on a wild ride through economics, animal corridors and decreasing populations. Because it is a novel, he doesn’t need to be realistic as he meticulously details decades of work trying to salvage not only a manageable but a celebratory future. His initial view is dire. As the book progresses, he gathers momentum for vastly optimistic possibilities. I admire his writing, which combines solid science, flights of poetry and trenchant insights into human nature. He is less convincing in character development for me but more than makes up for that weakness with a lively thread of dialog which unspools as continual exposition. The most delightful aspect of his writing is not just the ease of his discourse between people but clearly with himself, as he pursues an imaginative line of possibilities only to crash back to Earth with a caveat.

    It happens that much of the action unfolds in Switzerland, where I lived for several years and particularly Zurich where I completed my PhD so I found myself visualizing many of the locations he references. He seems enamored of all the good qualities of the Swiss, whom I found to be somewhat more complex and often problematic, much as the world he foresees turning to willingness, might be critiqued as a view through rosy glasses. The Switzerland I know, for example casts a blind eye on xenophobic racism. The scale of discrimination is comparable to the United States. The glaring connections between racism, immigration miseries and capitalism aren't even mentioned in this book. The relative facility with which immigration is solved in his story lines, albeit it takes many years, is a noticeable reflection of glossing over those reflections.

    The area of environmental science that gave me most pause was in his references to oceanic habitat, which doesn’t seem to interest him as much as the resurgence of land mammals, especially charismatic fauna. This bias creates a very photogenic backdrop for the narrative but in the context of his ecological arguments is a more serious elision than the dark side of Zurich. These elisions may be nitpicking because it is all written so beautifully. Publication was timed before the American presidential election, which I presume was deliberate and the opening passage is a horrific account of the consequences of American withdrawal under Trump, from the Paris Agreement.

    It also happened that while I was working on my own work memoir, I carefully studied the structure of his earlier novel, 50 Degrees Below Zero, noting how he meticulously builds his arguments for how consequences unfold. He has a phrase in that book, that I’ve often quoted, to the effect that, ‘we are terraforming the Earth but we don’t know how.’ That is a good example of his astute observations. Both novels are heavy on good science, light on realistic solutions but they both effectively employ art to draw attention to the role of discourse in finding solutions to climate change. Both are good reads.

    But neither one has noticeably moved a critical mass of the mainstream to budge the dial towards adequately shifting public opinion, as the Earth’s clock ticks down. If it had moved the dial in October 2020, 46.8% of the American electorate would not have voted for oligarchic fascism.  What is my takeaway from that observation? The world needs a lot more brilliant art to break through the media gatekeepers and entrenched confirmation bias before we are safe from the warning of his opening scenes of disaster. Still, this wonderful book will encourage the faithful and intrigue the skeptical and that will help. It is such a good piece of writing that it stands alone as a literary masterpiece and that alone may create a megaphone for his message: ‘act now. It is almost too late.’



    ©Aviva Rahmani, Red Sky, 2010, digital image, 48 x 48 inches

    Vicki Robin Resilience interview with the author HERE (March 23, 2020)

  • Friday, January 01, 2021 11:31 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace January 2021 e-Newsletter is HERE

  • Tuesday, December 29, 2020 1:02 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Published December 28, 2020 by Susan Hoffman Fishman for Artists and Climate Change, an initiative of The Arctic Cycle.

    The exhibition included ecoartspace members Marcia Anneberg and Michele Brody.

    Water Atrocities

    Multi-disciplinary artist Jeff Carpenter is passionate about creating a radically new dialogue on the climate crisis. Towards that end, he conceived and curated the exhibition, FEMA: Fear Environmental Mayhem Ahead, which ran from October 31 through November 8, 2020, at the Icebox Project Space in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. FEMA was developed in just six weeks from start to finish so that it could serve as a space for open dialogue before the pivotal U.S. presidential election on November 4.

    FEMA included 11 regional artists, whose work encompassed paintings, installation, multi-media, maps, and participatory elements. Their contributions to the exhibition directly and forcefully confronted the existential threat of rising tides, the homelessness it has and will continue to precipitate, and the political stalemate that has prevented critical action. 

    To add a visceral sense of the coming reality, Carpenter and his volunteer crew filled the entire 3,300-square-foot gallery with 10,000 gallons or eight inches of water. Once the gallery was flooded, the space became a white reflecting pool, which enhanced the impact of the dramatic work. In order to navigate the space, visitors entering the exhibition were provided with white rubber boots. Carpenter reported that the experience of sloshing around the gallery with childlike abandon offered them some comic relief from the overwhelming seriousness of the exhibition’s content as well as from feelings of anxiety and despair.

    Installation view of FEMA: Fear Environmental Mayhem Ahead, 2020

    In our recent conversation, Carpenter explained how the exhibition came about. He noted that when his sister sent him a copy of a FEMA Flood Factor Map showing predictions of where flooding would occur in her Florida neighborhood, they discussed how the map, with its attractive, color-coded patterns, looked like something that could be seen in an art exhibition. 

    From that initial discussion, Carpenter began thinking about enlarging additional maps and creating an exhibition around them in Miami, Florida, where flooding has already become a common occurrence. After that option failed to materialize, he switched his focus to flooding predictions and Flood Factor Maps related to Philadelphia and began searching for an exhibition space in his own hometown. He was surprised when the maps indicated how serious the flooding would be in just fifteen years if nothing were done to mitigate the crisis in the meantime.

    Continue reading on the Artists and Climate Change website HERE


  • Sunday, December 13, 2020 8:30 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

     

    Foliose Fruticose Reconsiliation, 2018


    Lessons From Other Life Around Us

    Sarah Hearn works at the intersection of science and science-fiction by studying environmental creatures and phenomena. In this interview, Hearn discusses her process and inspiration for works that involve the largess of the sky to the tiniest most incredible beings.

    Interview conducted by Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein


    You describe your work as hovering between “studies of life on planet earth” and in a “hazy atmosphere of science fiction.” Where do you experience the break between the two?

    I believe this boundary between factual understanding of science and visionary predictions of science fiction sometimes collide and the various breaks between these two worlds are constantly shifting.  Our understanding about the universe around is forever bombarded with new knowledge. At times, these moments force us to shed previously held beliefs sometimes about the core of our beings, or types of matter lurking in our universe. These uncomfortable places of limited human knowledge are infinitely interesting.

    Although I have several projects that are science fiction in nature, Symbiotic Cooperation, the Lichen Field Guide and and the Lichen Study Guide collaborations are examples of projects with the goal of scientific accuracy. I enjoy working in a variety of ways, so being able to tax both sides of my brain keeps things interesting. Having a range of projects in my practice feeds a strange creative/detail obsessed cycle.

    I believe if we can be open to other kinds of intelligence, we could learn lessons from other life around us, about how to better adapt- even during something as extreme as climate collapse. These types of studies sound worth our time.

    Parmotrema hypotropum, Urban Colonization, Colony 11, 15" x 28" hand-cut vinyl photographs for site-specific installation at Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discover Center, Summer 2015


    Have there been discoveries you have made that have seemed like science fiction, but were real to earth (ex. Your work with Lichens)?

    Yes, all the time. It’s true that the more you know, the more you realize how limited your knowledge is—you know?  But in general, I am so amazed by how weird tiny things are. I get excited thinking about the measurable electric current that pulses through all living things, and by the ability of microbes to survive a 120 million year deep freeze and come back to life in a lab over a few weeks (proof zombies are real). Lichens are excellent examples of alien-like terrestrial life. They cover an estimated 8% of the planet with an estimated 4,000-6,000 species in North America alone. We still have so much to learn from them. Lichen even survived space travel and intense exposure to the atmosphere. I have been working with them closely for 9 years now and I still learn new things from them all the time. They marvelously demonstrate how tiny life forms contain multitudes of power and different kinds of intelligence. The recent project, Astrobiological Futures has me thinking about potential space life forms and lichen like organisms don’t seem that far-fetched.

    Staying connected to my natural environment is crucial for my creative and spiritual wellbeing. This work promotes learning to see beyond the human limits and reconstructing our ways of living with nature. When we feel more connected to our living environment, we tend to take better care of it.  I guess you could classify it as microactivism? Tiny changes with big impact.




    Cumulus and Stratocumulus, 2016

    What revelations did you have about the stratosphere while looking at so many images of clouds?

    I grew up landlocked in Oklahoma—a place where homes and towns are frequently wrecked by the fickle mood of the weather. I remember learning how to tell a wall cloud from other cloud types at an early age. Ultimately this project grew out of a desire to know more about all the other clouds that appear and disappear so quickly above us. The world is constantly changing and observing clouds is a wonderful immediate reminder of this. Mamatus clouds are universally fascinating.


    In “Above” you use frescos to present images of cloud types on their international weather systems symbols. Can you explain the choice of using frescos (an earth medium) to present the atmospheres and clouds?

    The choice to transfer the images into fresco slurry was very intentional. I have roots in traditional photography and love darkroom printing. Making the switch to digital printing didn’t fill my personal need for a tactile, messy process. I had been using the symbols to code the project, but the work needed to exist beyond square or rectangular frame boundaries- suddenly I knew the symbol shapes were the solution. I developed the installation idea to hang them at different heights depending on where the clouds would occur in the atmosphere, ultimately these organic configurations feel like a weather system passing through a gallery space. Because I am using a fresco transfer process, no two are the same—a perfect analogy for clouds. For the frescos to set, I am dependent on the weather, I can only make them on drier days with mild temperature and low humidity. I love this need for cooperation to make this work- a beautiful reminder of our small place within an expansive universe.

    Untitled drawing #6, 2016


    Can you describe your process when creating an artwork? Do you collect things out of initial interest and then wait for inspiration through research or do you gather materials with a project in mind?

    Well, there isn’t a single answer for this- ideas for projects come in different ways. I think of my art practice as a living breathing thing that changes, expands and contracts. I think I am always in conversation with the work I am researching and making; I am also receptive to new ideas as they come, but recognize they sometimes take years to come to fruition. So working with lichen came about from discovering it along the coast while working on another project focused entirely on ocean life. That was in 2009. It took me three full years before I began focusing on it and truly working with it. The first project working with it- the lichen was the conceptual framework- I set out to behave symbiotically, like lichen. I asked the public to mail small  samples of lichen to me. I photographed them, identified and cataloged them and donated them to a university herbarium. Each person who contributed lichen (or at least what they thought was lichen) received a small work of art, public recognition for their contribution and regular project updates on the project. Sometimes I set up the art making practices as a formula with strict rules—this was the case for an Unnatural History. The drawings where a strict size, all were printed in the color darkroom, each was mounted to a 8” x 8” plate and all were presented with their elemental symbol and atomic number. Many creatures in the catalog were real, and many were fictional, but the set of rules, leveled the viewing field and viewers start to make assumptions about the veracity of information in front of them. Other times, I just make art—I don’t think, I just let myself be creative and respond to the things I am currently thinking about.

    Many of your works use bright colors on dark or black backgrounds. Can you talk about this choice and its relationship to both color theory and the scientific process?

    The color choices are definitely influenced by my roots in the color darkroom. For years I was drawing negatives and printing them- so the drawings were always the color reverse of what I wanted the prints to be and because they are photograms—they float in a dark background. It seems as I’ve continued to make new work, much of this same color palate and aesthetic prevails. As for the choices for black backgrounds, and stark white backgrounds: yes, they are visually connected to darkroom photograms, but this choice also mimics formal scientific illustration where the subject presented by the artist is often isolated from its surroundings.

    Artificial Colony #11, 2015


    For many, including myself, the pandemic has brought us to spend more time in natural environments. How do you feel like the lock-down situations has affected your practice and goals as an artist?

    Well, like many, my life has changed dramatically during the pandemic. I wish I could say the first 6 months were positive, but I was living in some kind of hyper-excited-over-tired state working full time (not from home!), managing a four-year-old whose child care went “online” and trying to stay on top of my art practice. Needless to say, it wasn’t sustainable. Spending time in nature, cooking and baking have gotten me through the difficult days, weeks, and months. In September, I made the decision to step down from my full-time position as an arts administrator and focus on my personal art career and my family. My goals for my art practice have come into full focus again and it’s feeling wonderful to give the work the time and space it needs grow.  As someone who has juggled a little too much for far too long, I am so thankful for this transition.



    Sarah Hearn is an interdisciplinary visual artist and citizen researcher. Through explorations of biological life and natural phenomena, her work inhabits two realm; one grounded in studies of life on planet earth, and another hovering in a hazy atmosphere of science fiction. Hearn's work was presented in the 2018 exhibition, Big Botany: Conversations with the Plant World at the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kansas. Recent solo exhibitions include: Microtopia and Accumulation at Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in Kansas City; An Unnatural History at Art Center of the Ozarks in Springdale, AR; and Invisible Landscapes at University of Notre Dame. Hearn earned a BFA from the College of Santa Fe, and an MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology.


  • Wednesday, December 09, 2020 9:43 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Image: Brandon Ballengée, Motel for Insects, 2012, Smithsonian National Zoo


    ecoartspace would like to honor and express sincere gratitude for Amy Lipton and her sustained efforts over the last two decades, working with artists on behalf of nature. Through her curatorial practice, she helped make visible to the larger public the unique artistic approaches in the fields of environmental art, ecological art, art for nature, enabling them to flourish, as such innovative practices gained traction across the globe. The art and ecology community will be forever grateful for her pioneering contributions.


    Amy Lipton (1956-2020)

    Amy Lipton, gallery director, curator and ecoart pioneer based in New York’s Hudson Valley, passed away on Sunday, December 6, 2020 due to complications from ovarian cancer. She was laid to rest two days later in the Riverview Natural Burial Grounds at the historic Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. During her career as a curator, Lipton organized dozens of exhibitions and programs, gave lectures and participated on panels, and worked with hundreds of artists engaging ecological issues.

    From 1986-1990, Lipton was co-owner and co-director with Barbara Broughel of Loughelton, the pioneering East Village gallery where Mel Chin had his first New York solo exhibition, “The Operation of the Sun through the Cult of the Hand” (1987). She next owned Amy Lipton Gallery on Prince Street at Crosby in Soho, which evolved into Lipton Owens Gallery through 1995. In 1999, Lipton was introduced to Patricia Watts, founder of ecoartspace, through independent curator and former Los Angeles gallerist Sue Spaid. Lipton was preparing to travel to Aachen, Germany to install art works for her good friend and artist Chrysanne Stathacos in the exhibition “Natural Realities: Artistic Positions Between Nature and Culture,” curated by Heike Strelow based in Frankfurt. Lipton invited Watts to join her in Aachen for the opening reception in June where they met for the first time in person. The exhibition featured artworks by Robert Smithson, Helen and Newton Harrison, Mel Chin, Ana Mendieta, Ulrike Arnold, Eve Andree Laramée, hermann de vries, Mark Dion, Henrik Håkanson and more. It was an important gathering of like minded artists and curators who all shared a deep interest in the relationships between art and nature. Lipton and Watts each had young children at the time and were keen to work with artists addressing environmental issues, primarily for the sake of their children’s future. They decided to partner as a bicoastal curatorial team and in 1999, applied for nonprofit status under the umbrella of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE) in Los Angeles.


    In 1999, Sue Spaid and Amy Lipton coined the term ecovention (ecology+invention) to describe artist-initiated projects that employ inventive strategies to physically transform ecosystems. In 2002, Lipton and Spaid co-curated “Ecovention: Current Art to Transform Ecologies” for the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, an exhibition that included artworks by AMD&Art (Stacy Levy), Brandon Ballengée, Betty Beaumont, Joseph Beuys, Jackie Brookner, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Mel Chin, Betsy Damon, Agnes Denes, Georg Dietzler, Tera Galanti, Hans Haacke, Harrison Studio, Lynne Hull, Basia Irland, Patricia Johanson, Laurie Lundquist, Kathryn Miller, Nine Nile Run Greenway Project (Reiko Goto and Tim Collins), Viet Ngo, Ocean Earth, Aviva Rahmani, Buster Simpson, Robert Smithson, Alan Sonfist, George Steinmann, Susan Leibovitz Steinman, Superflex, Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Shai Zakai. International in scope, the exhibition and its accompanying catalog (the first online for free) aimed to show that despite artists’ practical goals, their artworks remained open-ended in scope. For the artists ideas to come alive, five of them were commissioned to produce new ecoventions, six others produced in situ ecoventions, and Jackie Brookner worked with the Mill Creek Restoration Project to create Laughing Brook (2002-2009/present), a permanent ecovention in Cincinnati.


    Select exhibitions which Lipton curated after 2002:

    Imaging the River, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY

    Alexis Rockman: Human/Nature and the Environment, Carriage House Center, NY

    It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine), Ramapo College Art Galleries, Mahwah, NJ

    Nuturing Nature: Artists Engage the Environment, Concordia College, Bronxville, NY

    Beyond the Horizon at Deutsche Bank on Wall Stree, NY

    Down to Earth: Artists Create Edible Landscapes, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Philadelphia, PA

    Silent Migration: Brandon Ballengée, Central Park Arsenal Gallery for Human/Nature: Art and the Environment Series, Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, NY

    E.P.A. (Environmental Performance Actions), Exit Art, NY (curated with Watts)

    Into the Trees, The Fields Sculpture Park at Omi International Arts Center, Ghent, NY

    Out of the Blue, Bergen College, Paramus, NJ

    BioDiverCITY for 5x5 Project in Washington D.C. presented by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the National Cherry Blossom Festival in 2012

    TRANSported for the New Museum's Ideas City Festival and Arts Brookfield at the World Financial Center Plaza and at Sara D. Roosevelt Park in New York City.

    FOODshed: Agriculture and Art in Action, Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY

    Tipping Points: Artists Address the Climate Crisis, Bergen College, NJ


    In 2016, Lipton with Jennifer McGregor co-curated the exhibition “Jackie Brookner: Of Nature,” a retrospective of the artist’s work at Wave Hill in the Bronx. Brookner (1945-2015) was a good friend and mentor to Lipton, and Lipton was an impassioned proponent of the artist's work whose focus was healing, whether purifying air, water or memories. Adamant that science matters, Brookner stressed the importance of scientists evaluating the efficacy of her projects, which left a lasting impression on Lipton.

    Amy Lipton was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated from California Institute of the Arts in 1980 with a BFA in Art and Design and worked as an art director for the publication WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing founded by Leonard Koren before moving to Manhattan, New York in 1982. In 2001, after many years working as a gallery owner and director, and two days before 9/11, Lipton moved with her family upstate to Garrison. She commuted for a few years while staff curator at Abington Art Center and Sculpture Park in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and for a couple years while director at Fields Sculpture Park at Omi International Arts Center in Ghent, New York. Lipton lived in the Hudson Valley for almost twenty years and was married to composer and musician Ben Neill. Their daughter, Kadence Luella Neill, lives and works in New York City.


    Additional artists with whom Lipton worked include (not a complete list): Lillian Ball, Joan Bankemper, Vaughn Bell, Dove Bradshaw, Michele Brody, Jackie Brookner, Diane Burko, Nancy Cohen, Xavier Cortada, Elizabeth Demaray, Steffi Domike, Simon Draper, Leila Nadir + Cary Peppermint (EcoArtTech), Peter Edlund, Fredericka Foster, Matthew Friday, Futurefarmers, Joy Garnett, Fritz Haeg, Ruth Hardinger, Kimberly Hart, Susan Hoenig, Katie Holten, Natalie Jeremijenko, Patricia Johanson, Nina Katchadourian, Eve Andree Laramée, Rapid Response, Robin Lasser, Stacy Levy, Lenore Malen, Mary Mattingly, Sarah McCoubrey, Maria Michails, Alan Michelson, Jason Middlebrook, Kristyna and Marek Milde, Patricia Miranda, Eve Mosher, Itty Neuhaus, Lucy and Jorge Orta, Joan Perlman, Michael Pestel, Andrea Polli, Andrea Reynosa, Alexis Rockman, Ann Rosenthal, David Rothenberg, Christy Rupp, John Sabraw, Carolee Schneemann, Bonnie Ora Sherk, Steven Siegel, Brooke Singer, Rebecca Smith, Jenna Spevak, Roy Staab, Tattfoo Tan, Joel Tauber, Sarah Trigg, Linda Weintraub, Marion Wilson, Elaine Tin Yo and Andrea Zittel.

    You are invited to leave comments below in her memory:

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software