The ecoartspace blog will feature artist profiles and reviews of exhibitions, as well as writings on ecological systems. We are interested in presenting work that artists are making in collaboration with scientists, and poetics including spoken word, opera, and performative work. Painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, drawing, and printmaking are all welcome media. Speculative architecture and public art are also encourage. Submissions for posts can be sent to We look forward to hearing from you!

You can access the previous ecoartspace blog HERE (2008-2019)

ecoartspace, LLC

Mailing address: PO Box 5211 Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502
  • Monday, November 29, 2021 9:44 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    Striking Back by Aviva Rahmani

    What is fascinating, informative, and important to ecoart about Laura Raicovich’s recent book, “Culture Strike: Art and Museums in an Age of Protest” (Verso Press 224 pages / June 2021), is that it is a thoughtful meditation on the paradoxical power relationships between disparate groups and values: museum personnel, business leaders, and activists representing disenfranchised groups. At a number of museums in recent years, that relationship has been tested, as, with British Petroleum, from whom the Tate, UK, was successfully pressured by Liberate Tate to divest in 2016, or with the Sackler family, which produced OxyContin, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. What is significant about her meditation for the field of ecoart is that even though good ecological art can set the wheels in motion, we need more than one wheel to move the vehicle of change forward in mainstream consciousness before we all perish from ecosuicide. The museum world, despite caveats, may still house one of those wheels.

    Critics maintain that the museum world is held hostage to figures whose financial success cannot be held up to scrutiny. Therefore, the museums’ ethical accountability cannot be assured. That is where art activists have stepped into the breach to demand that accountability. Raicovich’s insightful gaze on these relationships is cool but not cold. Her conclusions seem implicit: the wheel is broken but perhaps not irreparably. She analyzes several complex situations, including a frank examination of her high-profile resignation as President and Executive Director from the Queens Museum of New York, where she advocated a radical public commons, to show how a small, strategically minded, and determined group can effect change. The most careful investigation of that dynamic is in her deconstruction of events at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which ended with the reluctant resignation of Warren B. Kanders on July 19, 2019, then vice-chairman of the museum, whose company, Safariland, supplied tear gas used at the Mexican American border and in Palestine. Kanders' statement at the time was, “I joined this board to help the museum prosper. I do not wish to play a role, however inadvertent, in its demise.” Before he resigned, five prominent artists announced they would withdraw from the Biennale led by Michael Rakowitz, then Korakrit ArunanondchaiMeriem BennaniNicole Eisenman and, Nicholas Galanin. They were later joined by other artists from the Biennale. It is worth mentioning that the honorarium for the artist’s participation was $1500., which they did not forfeit. Clearly, that modest figure is evidence that finances were not a consideration for the artists. The organization most responsible for pressure on the Whitney was Decolonize This Place. The formal statement from the latter ended by celebrating, “… a process of reformulating our museums to be responsive to the constituencies they claim to serve.”

    Whether or not that optimism is justified today is arguable. But the dynamics Laura Raicovich so carefully and honestly dissected are worth close consideration. Raicovich’s deconstruction of museum accountability represents a deconstruction of the same dynamic the world recently witnessed in the denouement of COP26 in Glasgow. COP26 came to no practical solutions to the scale of devastation occasioned by fossil fuel corporations. The caveat to that comparison is that no one resigned after COP26. Nor did anyone implicitly express regret for any threat to institutions caused by their bad behavior.

    And the caveat to that is that the art world often reflects attitudinal shifts on the broader culture. The outstanding question Raicovich leaves hanging is whether it is possible to work as an ethical museum director in our current culture. And the corollary to that question is can we find any respite to our climate crises in any powerful institution, or is the whole world held hostage to greed with impunity? What are the limits of our personal and professional boundaries, and where, when, and how can we exert pressure to change how Western cultural institutions function? If, as many believe, the museum is still the agora for public discourse, if as many believe the most critical discourse we must engage in now is how to end behaviors that result in ecocide, of which climate change is one devastating symptom, can we take space in museum culture to force that discourse and effect change? Can we hope for a horizon of accountability for the rich and powerful? As she writes in her conclusion about the challenge ahead, “… the single most important thing is to begin … by looking inward.” She has offered us that beginning.

  • Monday, November 22, 2021 11:23 PM | Callie Smith (Administrator)


    November 22, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Linda Gass.

    San Francisco Bay Area multimedia artist Linda Gass creates stitched paintings and works in glass to question the relationship between humans and their environment. Informed and inspired by her extensive research on the impact of changing waterways, sea-level rise, fire and drought in California and the American West, her work uses beauty to shed light on difficult issues. "I am inspired by the relationship between humans and the water and land that sustain them. My work explores how landscapes change over time focusing on those places where destruction and renewal, wounding and healing, absence and presence overlap."

    Dogpatch, the sea is rising: 0, 3 and 6 feet, 2019

    Sea level rise, caused by the thermal expansion of warming ocean water and the melting of land ice, is a significant climate change threat to coastal. From 1900 to 2016 global sea level has risen by 7-8 inches and the rate has increased to a rate of about 1/8” per year. The most recent scientific estimates for San Francisco Bay were released in 2018 by the California Ocean Protection Council (a State Government appointed council). Projections for 2050 are relatively modest with a likely increase of 1-foot. However, by 2100 the likely projection puts sea-level rise at between 3 to 6 feet. The range of projections is affected by whether carbon emission levels fall significantly or if they continue at current levels.

    "Using sea-level rise maps published by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), I have created a triptych of artworks showing the present day and the impact of 3 and 6 feet of sea level rise on the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. If you are familiar with this are, you may recognize familiar features such as the new Chase Center in Mission Bay and Oracle Park to the north."

    San Joaquin Merced Revival, 2012

    San Joaquin Merced Revival is part of a series about confluences of bodies of water that no longer exist due to human impact. The artwork shows a birds-eye view of where the confluence of the San Joaquin and Merced rivers once was, paired with endangered Chinook salmon. Before the San Joaquin was dammed and heavily diverted for agriculture in the 1940s, the river was the largest in Central California and supported spring and fall salmon runs of over 300,000 fish. The completion of the Friant Dam in 1942 and the diversion of water into the Friant-Kern Canal left little more than a trickle below the dam in most years, drying up the San Joaquin before it reaches its confluence with the Merced. As a result, the count of Chinook salmon fell to zero by the 1950s and the spring and fall salmon runs became extinct.

    Although this situation may seem hopeless, there is an effort underway to restore the river and the Chinook salmon runs. In 1988, 13 plaintiffs filed a lawsuit and successfully proved that the Friant Dam's diversion of water from the San Joaquin River violated the Endangered Species Act and California's public trust policies. Eventually a settlement was reached in 2006, requiring the river flow and the salmon runs to be restored. Restoration efforts are currently underway.

    Some day there may be no more snow: California snowpack 1960 – 2019

    This data visualization artwork shows the average annual snow water equivalent for the state of California for the years 1960 – 2019. The snow water equivalent is a critical measurement: the state’s water delivery system of dams and reservoirs was designed to rely on the snowpack’s natural reservoir. The mountains store vast quantities of winter precipitation as frozen snow until late spring when it begins melting, slowly releasing water throughout the summer to replenish the human-made reservoirs.

    The artwork shows that California has very few “normal” years; for as long as humans have kept track, it never has. Flood and drought are the normal, however the data shows the water content is on a downward trend. The decrease is caused by warmer winter air temperatures where less precipitation falls in the form of snow. The delicate thread-lace columns evoke the shape of the tubes used by snow surveyors to measure the snow pack and their shaded gradation help the viewer see the extremes in the data.

    Some day there may be no more snow: California Snowpack 1960-2019, 2019 (detail)

    Linda Gass is best known for her intricately stitched paintings about climate change, land use, and water issues in California and the American West. She graduated from Stanford University with a BS in Mathematics and MS in Computer Science and has been creating art for more than 20 years after a decade-long career in software. Her work has been exhibited throughout the US, in Europe and Russia, and at venues including the Museum of Craft and Design, Oakland Museum, the Bellevue Arts Museum, and the US Embassy in Moscow; and has been written about in National Geographic’s All Over the Map: A Cartographic Odyssey, and American Craft as well as other publications. Gass's work is held in several public and private collections including the International Quilt Museum, San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

    Featured Images: ©Linda Gass, Dogpatch, the sea is rising: 0, 3, and 6 feet, 2019, silk painting, digital scanning , digital image manipulation (Adobe Photoshop), digital printing on silk, machine quilting, 35.5 x 60 x 1.5 inches (Top); San Joaquin Merced Revival, 2012, silk painting and machine quilting, 30 x 45 x .5 inches; Some day there may be no more snow: California Snowpack 1960-2019, 2019, cotton, rayon and clear polyester, monofilament thread, dissolvable stabilizer, fabric stiffener, magnets, nails, 58 x 90 x 1.25 inches (bottom). Portrait of the artist at the Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco, 2020 (Below).

  • Monday, November 15, 2021 10:00 PM | Callie Smith (Administrator)


    November 15, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist Beverly Naidus.

    EXTREME MAKEOVER: Reimagining the Port of Tacoma Free of Fossil Fuels is a community-based art project. The Port of Tacoma is an industrial port built on tribal land in violation of the Medicine Creek Treaty of 1854. The soil and water have been contaminated by years of dumping and now host several designated superfund sites. In recent years, the community has been fighting the installation of new and dangerous fossil fuel projects in the Port and Extreme Makeover arose out of that resistance.


    "Extreme Makeover has been hosting art workshops (most recently with the support of Tacoma’s to engage the public in a reconstructive visioning process. The questions we ask participants are: what would the Port of Tacoma look like if the toxic superfund sites are healed as much as possible via permaculture design and the port becomes a showcase for green, renewable energy? What would happen if the Puyallup Nation's vision for a restored estuary is made tangible through multidisciplinary art projects so that the public will get behind it? How can this project help the community prepare, both emotionally and pragmatically, for the impact of rising sea levels on the Port of Tacoma and the local ecosystem?" 

    "After some meditation exercises, participants make collages, digital images and drawings as part of their visioning process. Our art making can be powerful medicine. It can awaken people to their power and motivate them to take action. It can be the glue that brings together strangers when they sit in workshops making art together. Participants have come to various public locations and community centers to discuss the questions above and create images that will be eventually projected onto walls in their neighborhoods, captured on social media, and shared virally."

    "Scientists, activists, artists, and members of the Puyallup tribe have been developing performance interventions for different public events. Those events will eventually be videotaped and shared online. The goal will be to awaken a typically uninformed citizenry and help them become stakeholders in their shared future. 

    We want to reach people who have given up hope and have succumbed to dystopic views of the future. This is an intergenerational project so that stories about getting through hardship, healing from trauma, and recovering from depression and difficult circumstances will help younger participants believe that we can shift things."

    Beverly Naidus's art and life have straddled the art world's socially engaged margins, artful activism collaborations, and community-based art projects. Much of her work deals with ecological and social issues that have adversely affected her and those around her. Naidus has taught art as a subversive activity at NYC museums, the Institute for Social Ecology, California State University, Long Beach, where she had tenure, Goddard College, Hampshire College, and Carleton College. She’s been a tenured member of the UW Tacoma faculty for the past 16 + years, where she's shaped an innovative, interdisciplinary studio arts curriculum in art for social change and healing. She is the author of Arts for Change: Teaching Outside the Frame (a book that is shifting studio arts curriculum around the world) and has written & published many essays on eco-art and social practice, as well as a few works of speculative fiction. She recently published a limited-edition artist’s book, Not Just Words: A 30-Year Exhortation to Love & Resistance.

    Featured Images: ©Beverly Naidus, EXTREME MAKEOVER: Reimagining the Port of Tacoma Free of Fossil Fuels, 2018-2020.

  • Monday, November 08, 2021 9:17 PM | Callie Smith (Administrator)


    November 8, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist Mark Brest van Kempen.

    Brest van Kempen has created a variety of artworks using the landscape itself as sculptural material. From the Free Speech Monument on the UC Berkeley campus to Land Exchange at the National Academy of Art in China, his work explores the range of emotions and issues that are embodied in our complex relationship to the environment. He has spoken around the country and abroad on the possibilities of creating artwork that functions outside the museum /gallery context and that bring aesthetic and symbolic meaning to everyday situations.

    Living From Land

    "This thirty day performance consisted of living within a five square mile area of wilderness and bringing no food with me. I ate only the plants and animals from the site. The project was an inversion of landscape painting that reoriented the artist’s relationship with land. Instead of standing outside of the landscape and taking it in with my eyes, I stood inside it and took it in with my mouth. The performance was documented in a video installation that was exhibited at the Richmond Art Center and the Armory Center for the Arts in California and Exit Art in New York."

    Ravenna Creek Drop

    "This project sculpts the land and city infrastructure itself in a mile-long artwork that traces Ravenna Creek as it flows under the streets and sidewalks of Seattle. The project has a number of components along the corridor that includes a blue line that traces where the creek flows in a pipe under the city. Text of cast aluminum spelling out “Ravenna Creek” is embedded in the sidewalk along the line, creating a life-sized map embedded in the landscape itself. This maps traces where the creek flows underground. Pedestrians can follow the path of the creek from Ravenna Park to Lake Washington. 

    The daylighted section of Ravenna Creek ends in a small pond before flowing to a pipe under the city. I designed a steel and glass sculptural outfall that creates an 11 foot long wedge-shaped void in the water as the creek disappears into the city’s infrastructure. Two sides are blue, visually connecting the water with the blue line described above. The other two sides are glass and reveal a cross section of the pond bed.

    Three Viewing vaults located along the pipeline allow pedestrians to see the creek flowing eight feet beneath the city.  This subterranean creek is lit and complete with boulders and ferns.

    Fifteen plaques mark the locations of glass capsules buried beneath the sidewalk. Each capsule contains seeds of a plant found on the site before the city was built. The capsules are designed to break and scatter the seeds during any future construction projects."

    Leona Quarry Earthwork

    "This large scale, multi-faceted project brings together land art with community activism, environmental art and land use on a one hundred fifty-acre urban riparian site. After documenting numerous violations of local and federal clean water laws on the site of a large new development, I worked with a small group of community activists to sue the developer and the city in federal court. This lawsuit resulted in altering the design of their developments to protect the watershed. I see this endeavor as a large-scale earthwork that was the result of a political struggle played out on the landscape. 

    Several interventions in the landscape frame the site as a large-scale artwork including legal text from the lawsuit stenciled onto drainage channels. The text continues in pipes underground and extends beneath the development itself. Several sites have become habitat for animals such as Pacific Tree Frogs, Western Fence Lizards and the endangered Alameda Whipsnake. Also, the creek itself was temporarily sculpted into a large inverted fountain that alters its legal standing from 'groundwater' to 'creek'."

    Mark Brest van Kempen has received numerous commissions for public art projects including the San Francisco Art Commission, the City of San Jose, the City of Seattle and the Haas Foundation. His work has been presented in several books including Lucy Lippard’s The Lure of the Local and Peter Selz’s Art of Engagement as well as Time Magazine, The New York Times, Art in America, and the LA Times. He has received a California Arts Council Fellowship and has taught at the San Francisco Art Institute, Stanford University and California College of the Arts.

    Featured Images: ©Mark Brest van Kempen, Living From Land; Ravenna Creek Drop; Leona Quarry Earthwork 

    Above: Mark Brest van Kempen, image courtesy of San Francisco Art Institute

  • Tuesday, November 02, 2021 5:22 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Christy Rupp, “Social Progress” (1985), Broadway and 5th Ave, NYC; mixed media and steel (photo by Peter Bellamy, sponsored by the Public Art Fund) 

    Noisy Autumn: Sculpture and Works on Paper, which publishes November 16, ​​includes essays by Carlo McCormick, Amy Lipton, Nina Felshin, Bob Holman, and Lucy R. Lippard.

    Posted on Hyperallergic by Insight Editions 

    November 2, 2021

    Ever since her emergence as an artist and activist in Manhattan in the late 1970s, eco artist Christy Rupp has used art to understand the human definition of “natural.” Wielding commodified materials to construct three-dimensional sculptural pieces that examine our perception of nature, her work has been noted for its dynamic ability to deconstruct the harsh divisions that separate us from our environment. Noisy Autumn: Sculpture and Works on Paper, a new career-spanning monograph from Insight Editions, shows the precision, scale, and enduring power of this work.

    Christy Rupp, “Dodo” (2007), welded steel, fast food chicken bones, wood, 33 x 16 x 29 inches

    Through her artwork, Rupp directly addresses the intersection of geopolitics, culture, and economics as they impact the vulnerabilities of ecosystems. “Foundational in my art practice is the intersection of animal behavior and the environment. As I started to learn more about how the science of economics impacts habitat, pretty much everything I’ve made since then flows from the waste stream, the creation and persistence of garbage, and how that waste has defined the world we live in today,” Rupp says. “I study economics as if it were a natural system which has been corrupted. The ravages of oil spills, industrial pollutants, pesticides, and climate chaos have made me an eco artist.”

    Noisy Autumn — its title celebrating Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking Silent Spring upon the forthcoming 60th anniversary of its publication —includes essays by Carlo McCormick, Amy Lipton, Nina Felshin, Bob Holman, and Lucy R. Lippard, who writes, “This book displays the extraordinary variety of Rupp’s work over the years and the increasing urgency of her wide-ranging concentration on the cultural framing of nature… Amid today’s rapid slide into uncaring obsolescence danced to the drumbeats of war and ecological disaster, Rupp’s work becomes prescient. While many “climate artists” focus on our own fears of loss rather than empathy for others, she goes to the heart of the crisis. Caring about wildlife for its own sake, on its own grounds, she is a voice for scientific and aesthetic reason.”

    Christy Rupp’s sculptures and works on paper alike leave readers pondering human engagement with the natural world amid rampant consumption — and how they may take action.

    Noisy Autumn is available to preorder now on Bookshop and Amazon, and you can pick up a copy wherever books are sold on November 16.

    Continue reading HERE

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

    Molybdenum Mine Vol. 1, Hydrolibros

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

    Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

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

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

    Hydrolibros series. Retrospective, Museum de Domijnen, The Netherlands

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

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

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

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

    Icefield. Detail of installation.

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

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

    We are not separate from the waters of the world.

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

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

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

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

    Launching Book XXXI into Rio. Photo by Ben Daitz.

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

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

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

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

    Saskatchewan River Delta Backpack-Repository. Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    To see more of Irland's work go to

    Contemplation Station VII before being moved to the River Maas.

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


    November 1, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Marion Wilson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The ecoartspace November 2021 e-Newsletter is HERE

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

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

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

    Jean Arnold - Civilization

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Continue reading HERE

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

    Diane Burko: On Bearing Witness and Embracing Beauty

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

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

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

    Continue reading HERE

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