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
  • Wednesday, November 08, 2023 6:20 PM | Anonymous


    Lucia Monge Collaborates With Living Organisms for While a Leaf Breathes (Mientras una Hoja Respira)

    The ArtYard exhibition explores plant respiration as a metaphor for life and vulnerability. On view through January 28 in Frenchtown, New Jersey.

    ArtYard November 8, 2023

    To create works for While a Leaf Breathes (Mientras una Hoja Respira), artist Lucia Monge turned to plants, mushrooms, bacteria, and other living organisms as collaborators. 

    “The materials in my works are prepared, fermented, cooked, and cultivated,” Monge says. “It is hard and also beautiful to adapt to another species’ temporality. It is important for me to not only talk about interspecies relationships but to try to meet another species halfway and to have my practice be guided through their cycles, time, and urgencies.”

    The exhibition explores stomata — the pores through which plants breathe. Exchanging air with the environment is key to the photosynthetic process of plants. However, every time these pores open to breathe, the plant risks losing water. There is vulnerability in opening up, and loss and nourishment must be balanced in order to stay alive.

    Continue reading at Hyperallergic here



  • Wednesday, November 01, 2023 10:22 AM | Anonymous

    November 2023 e-Newsletter for subscribers is here

  • Wednesday, November 01, 2023 8:15 AM | Anonymous

    Photo: A Oyster Mushroom fruits through one of Carol Padberg’s handwoven wearable sculptures.

    Carol Padberg's fully integrated art and educational practice

    Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Carol Padberg lives her practice. Through a combination of material work creation and a back-to-the-land, spiritually integrated lifestyle, the artist/educator is fully entrenched in her mission. Padberg was the founder of the low residency Nomad MFA program through the Hartford Art School at University of Hartford (2015) and along with Mary Mattingly, appling the Nomad curricular model also recently founded the Confluence MFA concentration (2022) at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. This unique regenerative culture program integrates multiple sites in the Americas with a focus on both ecology and community. View her TED talk here for more information: Radical: Art, Education and Ecology | Carol Padberg | TEDxUniversityofHartford

    Interview

    Carol, a word that comes to mind when exploring your work is: connection. Whether the connection is between fiber and living organisms and/or people and the planet, the weavings you present seem to be both literal and abstract manifestations of this interconnectedness. What drives the dedication to develop and promote these connections?

    We are living in a time that has been devastated by the myth of separability. Yet we are all connected. My efforts in raising sheep and weaving, my commitment to work with mycelia and indigo, all of it is driven by the need to return to non-extractive economies, ancestral practices, and a direct, interspecies connection to the web of life. So, yes, ‘connection’ is a key concept for me. It is essential to understand this word within the ecological, political and cultural context of this destructive myth of separability. Another way the idea of connection shows up in my work is that the mycelial sculptures I make decompose back into the soil of the dye gardens. This way the life cycle of the art is directly connected to the life cycles of the planet.

    Photo: A slug eats one of Carol Padberg’s decomposing mycelial sculptures, accelerating the release of nutrients and mycelia back to the soil (2018).

    A huge aspect of challenging separability and a necessity in connection is intimacy. In “Meeting Mycelia” (2019) and the “Mycelial Muse Kit” (2022) you explore deep emotional and nurturing relationships with natural growth and cycles. How does the relationship between human and earth develop through these processes?

    A human being is an interspecies being. We have more non-human DNA in our bodies than human DNA. This is thanks to the bacterial and fungal communities that keep us healthy in our gut, on our skin and in ways we have not yet scientifically named. So, interspecies intimacy is “built-in” to mammals like us. When you consider this deep interspecies reality, it can be surprising that we need to pause to remember this. Yet here we are, with our idea of individuality, which is a biological fallacy. I want to trouble this idea of ‘appreciating nature’ by completely breaking down the human/nature binary. We must undo this idea that we are separate from nature. Art that creates a direct experience of our skin’s mycelial community to the mycelial community of the forest floor is not only poetic, but useful. This art has the ability to remind us to listen with our cells, loosen our grasp on individual selfhood and build new neural pathways that may foster better ways of knowing.


    Photo: Carol Padberg's spun wool from her sheep, created on a 17th century walking wheel.

    And you practice what you preach: your regenerative practice has expanded beyond artistic production and has become a way of life for you at the Nook Farm House. What role does place hold in your socially-engaged environmental art practice?

    In the past sixteen months I moved from Nook Farm House on the east coast of Turtle Island to Tewa land in the Southwestern region, to bring the Confluence curriculum to the University of New Mexico. All last year I felt bereft leaving Nook Farm House in Hartford, and yet it continues in new forms. Now I live on a farm in Northern New Mexico where I have a workshare arrangement in exchange for lodging. I raise wool sheep here and they graze on the grasses of this apple orchard. I also grow indigo to contribute to the local fibershed. I am fortunate to live in an area with abundant textile traditions: from the Pueblo peoples, the Diné, and the descendants of Hispanic settlers. I am a student of this place: observing, listening and growing as I adapt. And I am being shaped by the tenacious and fragile high desert. In my mycelial practices I have begun working with the Oyster Mushrooms I meet in the Jemez Mountains. And I am also beginning a project that considers the Questa Mine Superfund site and questions conventional ideas about remediation. As most of the materials I use as an artist come from the place where I live, a change in location brings new possibilities and requires adding new skills. So I am in a time of adaptation, and this is invigorating.

    Photo: A participant in a Meeting Mycelia workshop feeling the mycelia of fruiting Oyster Mushrooms through his eyelids (2020)

    In the spirit of creating this bridge, you have been incorporating new growth (mycelia) into textiles in recent years. How do these living woven cloths relate meaning to this inseparability?

    This is an ontological question, and by that I mean it relates to how we know what is. Let’s get mystical for a moment… One of the ways I walk in the world is as an animist who participates in old ways that have been carried down from my deepest human ancestors. I am from descendants of settler colonists on both sides of my family. But before we were colonized and trained into colonialism, we were living in Northern Europe and practicing a belief system in which weaving was world making. The three fates wove past, present and future. By collaborating with Oyster mushroom mycelia, who create by metabolizing rotting wood, I am considering how to process my family history and the trauma we have created in the world. How do we digest this? I practice spinning and weaving on ancestral wheels and looms as a way to reconnect with my heritage and then I work with mycelia because they are the best teachers of metabolization. How do we weave a future from this time period we have been born into? I believe textiles and mycelia hold clues.

    Photo: Sheep grazing near Carol Padberg’s Ger (Yurt) on the Northern New Mexico apple orchard where she lives, October 2023.

    Photo: A selection from the book Otra Visión: Mujeres Que Tejen, created by students in the Confluence MFA in collaboration with the Mujeres Que Tejen Weaving Collective in Valle de Teotitlán, Oaxaca, México, 2023.

    Your work is both in practice and in education. The MFA programs you have developed have been called “the MFA of the future”. What inspired you to develop these novel models?

    I deeply believe in the power of education to change lives and shape our world for the better. A democracy requires relevant, varied, and thoughtful educational institutions. In terms of the Confluence MFA, we are proud to be part of a state university that serves a majority POC student body. The leadership at the University of New Mexico is forward thinking, and adaptive to the changing conditions we are living in. Are we the MFA of the future? I think when people tell us that, what they are noticing is that we are purpose-driven, holistic, and that we have a low-residency format that is practical for working adults. An MFA dedicated to regenerative culture is a niche MFA. It serves a very specific need. There is no one MFA for the future, thank goodness. As the program will soon be ten years old, I would say it is going well. We are continuing to evolve a curriculum that gives students an expanded toolkit with which to address the world’s most complex issues. We attempt to do this in a way that is trauma-informed, liberatory and engaged. Is it easy work? No. Is it meaningful? Absolutely!

    Confluence MFA Online Openhouse, info here.

    Photo: MFA students with teaching artists Mark Dion and Christy Gast in the Everglades, Florida, 2018.

    Thank you, Carol, for expanding our horizons with your ideas and practice!

  • Monday, October 16, 2023 5:43 PM | Anonymous


    Lauren Bon on site at Bending The River, 2023 (photo courtesy Metabolic Studio)

    The Artist Working to Reclaim the LA River’s Water

    Through adaptive reuse, environmental artist Lauren Bon is diverting water from the river and distributing it to the Los Angeles State Historic Park.

    Matt Stromberg September 12, 2023

    LOS ANGELES — Since 1960, nearly all of the 51-mile Los Angeles River has flowed within a concretized channel. It begins in the San Fernando Valley at the intersection of Bell Creek and Arroyo Calabasas, then moves east through Studio City, curves around Griffith Park, and heads south past Glendale, Downtown LA, and the Gateway Cities of Vernon, Bell, and Maywood before emptying into the San Pedro Bay in Long Beach. Its stark, industrial shores have served as a backdrop for Hollywood films (Grease, Point Blank, Drive) and a fishing spot for intrepid urban hunters. What the river does not provide Angelenos is water, which its concrete shell ensures is channeled directly into the Pacific: 207 million gallons per day, according to the City of LA. 

    Through an ambitious project titled “Bending the River” (2012–ongoing), environmental artist Lauren Bon and her Metabolic Studio are working to reclaim at least a small portion of that water.

    “This is the first adaptive re-use of LA River infrastructure,” Bon told Hyperallergic. “This work acts as a case study. My hope is to set a precedent and path forward for creative and innovative thinking about how we can better use our infrastructure and re-evaluate our commons of soil, seed, water, and community process.”

    Continue reading on Hyperallergic here





  • Friday, October 13, 2023 8:53 AM | Anonymous


    Patricia Johanson (American, born 1940) Fair Park Lagoon, 1981–86, Gunite, native plants, and animal species, Dimensions variable. For the People, the Meadows Foundation, Communities Foundation of Texas, Texas Commission on the Arts and their private and corporate donations. Permanently sited in Fair Park, Dallas. © Patricia Johanson, Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Michael Barera

    Groundswell: Women of Land Art

    Sue Spaid

    Published October 1 for AEQAI

    Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas

    On view through January 7, 2024


    A couple of years ago, I unearthed a disappointing story. Between 1971 and 1990, as earthworks gave way to eco-art, twelve museums mounted exhibitions focused on eco-art, which featured artworks by a total of 238 men and 25 women, even though women actually built half of the fifty early examples of ecological earthworks. Moreover, dozens of women participated in the Land art movement, yet the very notion of women creating Land art, which typically requires heavy machinery, specialized skills, and expensive materials, still astonishes fifty years later. Thanks to Anna Mendieta’s well-publicized career, more women are known for their ecologically-oriented performance art. Seven first generation eco-artists are among the twelve artists featured in “Groundswell: Women of Land Art.” Since museums have historically ignored women’s vital contribution to this field, an exhibition focused entirely on women artists only seems fair. “Groundswell” offers a historical context for Patricia Johanson’s Fairpark Lagoon, a massive remediation project commissioned by the Dallas Museum of Art in the early 1980s to revitalize the lagoon sited three miles southeast of the Nasher Sculpture Center.

    Continue reading on AEQAI here


  • Monday, October 02, 2023 8:38 AM | Anonymous

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    October 2, 2023

    This week we recognize David Cass David Cass, and his painting practice focused on climate change, rising sea levels and waters. 

    Cass creates three-dimensional paintings and installations using exclusively found materials sourced at flea-markets and antique fairs; though his practice also involves photography, digital media, writing, sculpture and curation. He has made responsible travel a key component of his practice, as well as his exhibition activities.

     click images for more info

    Rising Horizon is a series of paintings in oil, with each work exploring aspects of our changing Earth: from commentary on rising sea levels, to the importance of re-using and recycling materials. These works, including Slides and Sounds, 2017-2018 (above) have been exhibited during solo shows at The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh and at Taigh Chearsabhagh Arts Centre in North Uist. They’ve also featured in a range of group events, including Royal Academy and Royal Scottish Academy Open exhibitions. During 2020, these works were presented as part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts & Waters.

    "Discovering the opportunities we have within reach for combatting aspects of the climate crisis also lies at the core of Where Once the Waters (above). Here, the aim has been to invite people to reflect, on their own terms, upon the changes happening at places we may feel some connection to. I believe that we have a better chance of engaging with aspects of climate change if we can do this in a personal way. In this vein, in May 2022, I opened a small solo exhibition—principally discussing the topic of rising sea levels—at the 59th edition of the Venice Biennale. The exhibition comprised two installation artworks formed of many small parts. One group of Letters (typed antique papers addressed to people around the world) offered readers insights into our changing coastlines; while a group of miniature seascapes spoke of sustainability and the need to care for our resources. Over the course of its display, Where Once the Waters was well received by visitors and media, with regular exhibition tours and discussions."   You can also take part

    "So far over 600 Letters have been typed onto an assortment of found papers, addressed to people around the world, each offering a sea-level “reading.” These letters aren’t sent (at least not in their physical form), they’re added to a growing collection. A Letter to Rhea, 2022 (below) was enlarged and presented in billboard format in Brooklyn, New York, thanks to the I AM WATER campaign (ecoartspace/our humanity matters); a Letter to Mesi was digitally screened during COP27 in Egypt thanks to IkonoTV. This is a different way to present the information the letters contain, specifically addressed to locals. If we know what is happening locally, we stand a better chance of meeting that issue. Climate change shouldn’t feel “far off” and issues such as sea-level rise could impact us all, regardless of where we live. We need to be discussing this more."

    “I started a series of seascapes (below) in the summer of 2022, after having spent the three previous years working almost exclusively on a small scale. Here, I’ve gradually applied expressive layers of oil in abstract shapes onto vintage industrial canvases and large format nautical maps pasted to board. Like the telling and re-telling of a story, I’ve traced and re-traced loops and curves, following familiar channels to build thick swells of paint. These paintings see my mark-making style inverted, with more emphasis placed on the negative space. Suggestive of sustainable practices, the titles of these paintings possess a meditative quality, much like the layering process of their creation.”

    David Cass     is an artist and occasional curator working between the UK and Europe. He has exhibited his multidisciplinary artwork in a range of venues and festivals including group showings at Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, MAXXI Museum in Rome, The Royal Academy (London) and Royal Scottish Academy (Edinburgh), and solo presentations at The Scottish Gallery, British Institute of Florence and Venice Biennale. Upon graduation from Edinburgh College of Art's School of Drawing & Painting, Cass received a Royal Scottish Academy scholarship to Italy. This event had great influence on his practice and his current projects still make reference to the country. He has participated in projects worldwide, and has artworks in numerous collections, both public and private. These activities have had an increasing focus on sustainability and the environment, with recent projects centered around on the issue of rising sea levels. Among other awards, Cass has received Winsor & Newton’s top award for his projects in watercolour and the Royal Scottish Academy’s Benno Schotz prize. He’s provided illustrations for books by Mark Haddon (2019) and Claudia Roden (2021) and worked collaboratively on the curatorial project A La Luz, which he co-founded with artist Gonzaga Gómez-Cortázar Romero In 2024, he will present his tenth solo exhibition.

    Featured images (top to bottom): ©David Cass,     So Many Endings, 2011–2013, objects + offcuts, gouache, 66 x 76 x 14cm; Sounds or Slides, 2017–2018, 35mm slides, oil, 5 x 5cm; Where Once the Waters, Series I + II, Venice, 2022; Letter to Rhea, I AM WATER billboard, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, 39th Street & 4th Avenue, photography by Juan Cuartas Rueda; Recount, 2022–2023, mixed media on bus blind, 130 x 80cm; portrait of the artist.


  • Sunday, October 01, 2023 9:17 AM | Anonymous


    October 2023 e-Newsletter for subscribers is here

  • Sunday, October 01, 2023 8:25 AM | Anonymous


    Aerial image of land containing mineral assets

    Eliza Evan’s work fighting fossil fuel industry infringement on land and creating the largest land art piece in existence.

    Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Originally a printmaker, Eliza Evans now focuses on the existing imprints (both actual and abstract) and politics of the land. Transitioning from physical objects planted in the landscape, her work increasingly focuses on activism especially in land rights and mineral asset ownership. She has created opportunities for mineral rights ownership as a group to form solidarity projects to provide land rights from fracking exploitation and fossil fuel company extortion. Eliza explains the details of her project, her motivations and her aesthetic decisions to further promote and advocate for cooperation, interdependence, and shared governance of resources in the face of large oppressive forces. 


    “All the Way to Hell: Disrupt Fracking, Own Minerals” project poster

    Considering the progression your work has made from sculptural objects in the land to the junction of grassroots organizing and activism, what role does social art have in your work? What is your approach?

    I am a researcher and observer by inclination. My earlier works were distillations of the social and economic systems generating catastrophic loss. I've reached a point where mourning, however necessary, feels like capitulation. Whatever I put into the world is committed to resisting the systems that undermine us and contributing to conditions from which a just future can emerge.

    I am a reluctant practitioner of socially engaged work. First, I'm an introvert. If I have charisma, it's a crusty one. I've said from the beginning that if I could make work anonymously, I would. But invisibility is a luxury, and these times call for something else. Second, I think there is a lot of irresponsible social practice out there. In the 1990s, I completed a PhD that required conducting fieldwork in impoverished rural areas in South Asia. The project was overseen by two chairs, a committee, the university's human subjects review board, and local researchers to protect interviewees from potential abuse. The process is imperfect, but at least there is one. I am unaware of any shared ethical standard or notion of informed consent in social practice--an art form that too often instrumentalizes the attention and labor of others.

    That said, I've developed an art project, “All the Way to Hell”, that invites participants to instrumentalize themselves. By committing their name to a deed, participants are not only contributing to the creation of a collective artwork, they are registering their protest. The record of this act will be maintained for as long as property records exist. I call it the 100-year sit-in. Compared to the risks associated with other forms of climate protest and direct action, the risks are low but not zero. I try to make that clear. That this risk is shared among thousands creates its own bond or community. That's at least my hope.


    Exhibited core sample taken from mineral-rich land, “All the Way to Hell”

    “But invisibility is a luxury, and these times call for something else.”

    I share your concerns regarding the safety and respect in social art practices and admire your dedication to agency in your projects. In "All The Way to Hell" you create a structure for land-owner solidarity in the fight to mitigate climate change. With this decentralized structure and the agency participants have, what are the inherent responsibilities related to contemporary resource ownership? And have the participants built upon the structure you have created?

    There are very few resources for landowners and mineral rights owners who either have to contend with or want to resist fracking. Surprisingly, there are few mechanisms for mineral rights owners who are pro-fracking to join forces. That's how the fossil fuel industry wants it, as atomized and ignorant mineral rights owners are easier to manipulate. To say no to frackers, you have to have a lot of mineral rights (more than 600 acres). The fracker is obliged to attempt to negotiate with you, but after having spent the time and money to do so, you can be forced if other mineral rights owners sign a lease. The process is not eminent domain, but it is an analogous process. 


    All the Way to Hell draft mineral deed: All the Way to Hell 350+ participants to date. Last names and street addresses redacted.

    I am beginning to reach out to other mineral rights owners. One is in the process of giving her mineral rights to a nearby Native nation. Another owner is a Diné woman who inherited fracked mineral rights from which she receives modest royalties. She provides much-needed basic supplies for the unsheltered on the reservation and creates opportunities for Dine youth to learn and practice traditional land stewardship. Others grapple with the conflicted legacy of mineral rights but are overwhelmed by the legal and regulatory hurdles that doing anything but saying yes to frackers poses. Who feels equipped to say no to the likes of Exxon?

    As intimidating as Exxon is, there are more significant issues. As the landback movement has helped us realize, everyone in the U.S. lives on stolen land. Mineral rights are a tool of colonization. In the early days of colonial settlement, ownership of mineral rights was unclear. Those rights inhere either with the state or with the property owner at different times. Ultimately, the Homestead Act resolved mineral rights in the continental U.S. by granting ownership of mineral rights to property owners to incentivize the migration of settlers away from the eastern seaboard into the interior.

    I am asking mineral rights owners to reconsider their orientation to these legacies. Most individual mineral rights owners inherited the property; it may connect them to a particular place and history. But extraction from these properties is creating an entirely new planet. I'm asking mineral rights owners to do the hard thing of examining their property's history and future and be accountable for it. There is no easy solution. There is no washing of hands. It requires diligence, vigilance, and cooperation. 


    Eliza Evans registering Land deeds for “All the Way to Hell”

    These are such important insights and corrections that I hope the larger public will be receptive to. Still, let’s transition to form: in exhibiting works related to "All The Way to Hell" you combine graphic media with infographics and physical documentation and well core samples for display. What effect has this combination of media allowed you to achieve?

    I'm interested in exploration, adaptation, and giving material, nonfiction form to unhinged notions of the possible. One of my tasks as an artist is to create new ways of knowing and understanding a complex thing. The first viewer I have in mind is myself. I'm a researcher by temperament and training, so digging in will always be my first impulse. The studio work is stripping away all that is unnecessary from the accumulated data, objects, stories, etc. I'm a minimalist, so I'm looking for incisiveness, efficiency, and elegance. Sometimes I hit the mark.

    Mineral rights are miles underground and inaccessible to most of us. Apart from whatever efficacy fractionalizing mineral rights into thousands of properties may have as a protest, the transfer of formal ownership via a deed creates a tangible connection between participant and mineral, experiencer and art. In theory, mineral rights extend to the center of the earth. A participant's mineral right may measure only a few square feet as represented on a cadastral map but extends three dimensionally downward for 4,000 miles. I love thinking about this sculptural space. It's outrageously grandiose. All the Way to Hell is the largest land art project in the world, yet it exists on sheets of 8 ½ x 11 paper. 

    “All the Way to Hell” is the largest land art project in the world, yet it exists on sheets of 8 ½ x 11 paper.

    The well-core samples are extracted from the earth by fossil fuel companies at great expense. Most are kept in secure storage facilities because the data they contain is considered highly proprietary. Exhibiting the well-core samples daylights corporate secrets and grounds the spectral methane and carbon dioxide in their very material, rocky origins. I encourage viewers to touch the art when installed in less formal settings.

    The values your works like "Kill Plot Home Goods", "All the Way to Hell" and "Acre" (2018) hold are reflective of an idea called the "commons". "Commons" thinking in academic writing refers to the redistribution of land and reparations to promote both equity and empowerment in planning and beyond. How do you hope these topics can be implemented further? What inspired you to take this approach to your work and assets?

    Everyone I know is talking about intentional communities, land trusts, cooperatives, and solidarity economies. It's an exciting time, and there are so many experiments unfolding. Last year, I received a grant from Meta Open Arts (of all things) to research creating a crypto-enabled cooperative (called a decentralized autonomous organization - in the impossible jargon of the crypto crowd) to help manage and steward mineral rights collectively. Cooperation is hard. We need tools. That includes legal tools that recognize new organizational forms. There is so much history of people working successfully to manage resources collaboratively and justly. We need to articulate these models with the legal, economic, and social systems in which we are embedded. Where systems collide, there is usually a lot of great art.

    Thank you, Eliza, this has been very inspiring and is expanding what art can do to create effective real change.


    Note: this interview took place via email while Evans was artist-in-residence in the Adirondacks in September, with no internet and a 12 mile drive to the hardware store to connect. 


    All the Way to Hell is included in Unsettling Matter/Gaining Ground, on exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Art through Jan. 7 in Pittsburgh. Two days are programming are scheduled for Oct 5 and 6, and admission is free on those days. Registration here


  • Saturday, September 30, 2023 5:59 PM | Anonymous


    Catherine Chalmers, Antworks in Progress (2012), taken during the production of Antworks (all images courtesy the artist)

    What is This? Artwork for Ants?

    “Our culture is far richer with the inclusion of other life forms,” says Catherine Chalmers, an artist who collaborates with a collective of wild ants to create tiny, Abstract Expressionist “Antworks.”

    Rhea Nayyar September 27, 2023 on Hyperallergic

    While most people do everything they can to keep their homes free of pests like mice, roaches, and ants, artist Catherine Chalmers welcomes them as collaborators in her art practice. Chalmers works with these disliked but ecologically essential organisms in an effort to broaden the horizons of our anthropocentric existence. In her research-based, multidisciplinary project Antworks, Chalmers worked with Leafcutter ants in the Costa Rican rainforest, investigating their aesthetic sensibilities through the plants they choose to trim and take back to their underground colonies in order to cultivate their food source — fungus.

    With nearly a decade of onsite research into Costa Rican ant colonies under her belt, Chalmers told Hyperallergic in an interview that she has “always had a sensitivity to the non-human world.” She said shegravitated toward entomology because insects are critical to the ecosystem, and their behaviors are very non-mammalian and unfamiliar to us. “They eat their lovers, they’re born in a fig and never leave, they just do all these weird things that are so beyond our perspective,” she continued. “And because we hate them.”

    Read the full article on Hyperallergic here



  • Tuesday, September 19, 2023 8:13 PM | Anonymous


    To Remember Amid Dismemberment

    A conversation with eco-artist Marina ‘Heron’ Tsaplina about Soils and Spirit
    for Orion Magazine by Petra Kuppers

    In this interview, we are getting exciting glimpses into the development of a long-term creative environmental project—Orion’s Winter 2021 cover artist Marina ‘Heron’ Tsaplina’s Soils and Spirit, which will premiere in NYC in Fall 2026 and tour to multiple locations in forests across the Eastern Seaboard. Tsaplina is part of a cohort of contemporary eco-artists who pay close attention to intersectional aspects of their work: her experiences of disability, immigration, and settler status deeply inform the ethics of her encounter with place.


    Indigenous artist moira williams (left) and Marina (right) improvising with the “soil phrases” prototypes on a NYC green-roof as part of the Kingsland Wildflower Festival, July 2023. ©Marina Tsaplina

    Petra Kuppers: In Dream Puppet, you had a very specific place – an ancient forest in the Yaak Valley threatened by a logging projectthat the piece was in conversation with. How does “place” function in Soils and Spirit?

    Marina Tsaplina: First, I’m thrilled to be able to say that the “Black Ram” logging project was ruled as violating multiple environmental laws, and was recently halted! In Rick Bass’ words, “Dream Puppet planted a seed that germinated [and] helped create momentum” in the effort by so many to successfully protect that ancient place.

    In Soils and Spirit, “place” is acknowledged as being fractured, moving, shifting, unstable. I am feeling into the fractured forests (both urban and rural) of the northeast, choosing locations that, together, tell a multidimensional story of some of what has happened to a portion of the “Eastern Deciduous Forest”. This means places where Soils and Spirit occurs will be where a community is working to return the land to Indigenous stewardship and working to build momentum around conservation. One place may be within a remaining sliver of an ancient forest that perhaps slipped through the chainsaws only due to a property dispute between two logging companies. One place will be where a deep history of incarceration of racialized and disabled people occurred. The final place will be on or near the U.S.-Canada colonial border, invoking the treaty histories between the U.S. Federal government and Native Nations that divided this land into two countries and through which land dispossession was enacted, while honoring the ecological continuity of the bioregion, and imagining what our future human-land relations may be.

    The project is grappling with some of the ways ‘land’ is imagined and organized in the U.S. How strange it is that many of us have to drive for an hour or more to get to a forest, or how cities can obscure the earth from which they grow. I’ve begun imagining that each NYC tree holds a dream of the forest that once was here. The “civilization” vs. “wilderness” binary has haunted the Western world for some 4,500 years. The “wilderness” designation creates “no touch” zones, but it can also create Indigenous erasure. My question is, how do we culturally learn to touch the land without violation? This medley of locations for Soils and Spirit is a challenge to perceive the forests, soils, waters, and cities across the region as being both fragmented yet interconnected—to form an integrated ecological thinking through the locations that the project will engage. Forests, waters, soils, histories, people.

    PK: Have specific forests been identified?

    MT: Two locations have already been identified, but until all resources and logistics (permits, insurance, rigging safety, etc.) are in place, I can’t publicly share them. Locations will be released before the premier of the work in 2026 in Lenapehoking (NYC). During the installation of Dream Puppet—which was only a 24-hour installation with no performance or audience component— we interfaced with authorities and border patrol, even though theoretically it was on public land, and “the public” has access. Some locations may be logistically easier—for example, a 20-acre preserved forest on “private” land. One of the most important components for deciding locations is whether there’s a community around the forest with whom Soils and Spirit is value-aligned, and does this community want to have the experience of Soils and Spirit to build momentum and deepen ecological intimacy? That’s where the magic happens.

    I’ve begun imagining that each NYC tree holds a dream of the forest that once was here.


    Continue reading interview at Orion Magazine, here


     


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