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, January 16, 2023 9:07 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    January 16, 2023

    This week we recognize  Constance Mallinson, and her forty plus year practice as a painter in Los Angeles, California. 

    "My earliest paintings are minimalist, and upon moving to Los Angeles in the late 1970’s I started to explore and connect with feminist artists and feminist art theory. I wanted to change from the hardcore reductive work that I was doing to something more personal, and this type of work felt really personal to me. For me, the tiny insistent repetitious marks were a way for me to assert my female body and presence. There is an insistence in building up a surface of thousands and thousands of tiny marks that is quite different from casting a piece with steel. This is my body engaging with the material."

    click images for more info

    More recently, Mallinson has engaged in apocalyptic imagery of the sublime landscape, as in "The Large Blass-t" (above), depicting a free fall of post-consumer objects through smoky skies, items she culled from urban streets. Now useless, these objects are dispensed of human attention and in their decaying state. They seem to challenge their own existence, with abundance transposed into waste. The paradox of higher standards of living as manifested by hyperconsumption and resulting ecological disasters is critical to understanding her work.

    The artists' epic panoramic landscapes painted from 2001 to 2009 (above) began as an investigation into the relationship between photographic and painted representations of landscape. Literally thousands of appropriated landscape images were “collaged” via painting to form dense imaginary landscapes incorporating multiple perspectives from the microcosmic to the macro, and conflicting narratives. Superseding the traditional single view of the landscape, they engage ideas of received information and its overriding influence on our perceptions of the natural, as well as question historicist ideologies such as the Edenic, the pastoral, and the gendered gaze. Spanning geography, time zones, and seasons, these paintings are tours de force intheir scale and execution and have been appreciated for their ability to seduce and deliver a critique while simultaneously positing a continuing relevance for painting in an era of ubiquitous mass media.

    Mallinson's Nature Morte paintings (above and below), are inspired by decaying natural materials and often include Archimboldo-esque human figures. Twisted branches, rotting stumps and logs, curling dried leaves and desiccated flora collected from the artists' daily walks through Los Angeles’ streets and canyons were painted from direct observation in a technique reminiscent of botanical illustration or trompe d’oeil. Some are painted on grainy plywood as “backdrops” for decomposing woodland scenes or Renaissance like saints. Suggesting a mutual vulnerability and destruction in an era of environmental instability, the paintings also represent a ruination of the previous pristine, scenery of her panoramic paintings or the progressive productions of Modernism itself. In some, fragments of human-made objects are intermingled with the flora and fauna to form eccentric, post-apocalyptic constructions, both an incrimination of wasteful consumer culture and a monument to its ongoing ingenuity.

    Constance Mallinson  (b.1948, Washington, D.C.)     is a Los Angeles based painter, writer and curator. During her career, she has exhibited widely and her critically acclaimed paintings are included in the collections of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, The San Jose Museum, and the Pomona Art Museum, the National Academy of Sciences. She has taught all levels of studio art and criticism at the major colleges and universities in Southern California and has written for many art publications such as Art in America, Xtra, Artillery, the Times Quotidian, and numerous catalog essays for university art museums. Her most recent curatorial projects have included “Urbanature” at ArtCenter College of Design, "The Feminine Sublime" at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, and “Small is beautiful” at the Irvine Fine Arts Center. Mallinson is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a COLA Fellowship. Twenty-four of her collages, transferred to porcelain enamel steel, are permanently installed at the Bergamot Station Metro Station.

    Featured Images (top to bottom): ©Constance Mallison, #2 (Green and Pink), 1979, acrylic on canvas, 66 1/2 x 94 inches; Large Blass-t, 2016, oil on canvas, 60 x 192 inches; What Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?, 2007, oil on canvas, 60 x 216 inches, from panoramic landscape series; You, 2008, oil on Rives paper, from the Nature Morte Series (2009-2011); Lost Woods, 2014, oil on plywood, 48 x 96 inches, from the Nature Morte Series (2009-2011); below, portrait of the artist taken by Eric Alter, 1977.

  • Monday, January 09, 2023 7:43 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    January 9, 2023

    This week we recognize  Ana MacArthur, and her forty plus year practice, from holography to games, while examining the intersection of art and science.

    Ignition, 1989, 1982(above) is one installation in a series of works resulting from research into the current state of solar technology. It is a meditation on holography and its role as a bridge to a possible future, where the ingenuity of light would be one of the keystones to environmentally sound modes of energy production. A Seed, is a five feet diameter pumice crete dish reminiscent of both a satellite parabolic and a metaté (a tool used to transform corn into flour) and holds in its center a circular dichromate hologram that slowly turns causing a transformation of colored light on a white feather suspended above. The hologram is made from an optic that bends light to a focal point out in space, and as a result, when lit, splits the white light into its spectrum. Instead of the hologram recording an object, it captures only light itself.

    click images for more info

    MacArthur's installation titled Necessary pupils for climate change, Variation 2, from 2008 (above), reflects on the changes in earth's atmosphere, ensuing global climate change, as a ‘veil‘, of sorts, concealing the planet. Under this veil three million species face radical change, putting us in the midst of the 6th greatest extinction cycle in the history of the planet, and due significantly to practices unleashed by the industrial revolution and our dependence on fossil fuels.

    In a moment of speculation, there is a reflection on what species are nearing extinction, and, with a near-by glass book, suggestions towards the significance of protecting this library of knowledge. Appearing as pools of water in flagstone slabs on the floor, circular holograms turning by hidden motors perplex as to how they generate the ephemeral spectrum, as if slow moving search lights, they circumnavigate the room and cross over the pupils housing the biological specimens.

    Where Light Meets Water; Mumuru on the Equator, T12a, 2009 (above) is an installation focused around the display of a 5 feet diameter mold of the victoria amazonica, the world’s largest water lily from the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil. As an ongoing extensive project, an initial phase involved making a successful mold of an exceptionally large water lily, on site in the Amazon. On one surrounding wall a 15 foot scroll shares stories, through photos and text, and experiences from two trips and six attempts to complete a successful mold of this unusual organism. It outlines the context of a bioregion extremely vital for what it produces biologically, yet presently under great threat via the reciprocal effects of deforestation and climate change. A small object with a dichromate hologram of a solar cell draws a report with the nearby impressions of the giant leaf and, by association, recalling leaves as the inspiration for photo-voltaic cells. A series of small shelves with translucent wax impressions of the complex, underside of the lily are backlit with a two LED colors per shelf; a representation through linear time of the most pronounced frequencies of the sun's radiation affecting the plants growth in each phase of transformation. Nearby in an enclosed room, a continuous loop video slows one into painterly, haunted sounds of the primordial edges of the Amazon.

    MacArthur’s installation In Search of the Collaborative Blue Fringe, Part II,2016 (above) is focused on a collaboration with a non-human animal (butterfly) and a biologist, while reflecting on extinction, interspecies relationships, energy generation and efficiency, and collaboration as a means to unexpected solutions. The work evolves from layers of exploration and meaning of the blue diffracted light from two species of butterflies. The work engaged scanning electron microscope explorations, fieldwork collaboration with a behavioral biologist, the symbolism and psychology of the color blue, and the use of sugar as both energy source for butterflies and flow of energy through the living world.

    For Pollinator Concentrator, 2019-2020 (above), located in Taos, New Mexico, the hexagon tiles and the overall pattern of tile work were inspired by the ommatidia pattern on a butterfly’s eye. As much as the tile imagery looks simplistic it was derived from exact scientific photos or specimens with the purpose to maintain the exact morphology for identification, study, and memorization through touch. Each pollinator tile species is from New Mexico, with one exception, and with representations from the main pollinator groups, bees, hummingbirds, bats, butterflies, and wasps. Particular species were chosen for ease of laser etching, resulting readability, and ease of casting. Each specific pollinator in tile has a unique story. A blue glass knob at the top of the pole, the exact mathematical 'focal point' of the parabolic tiled dish, is also a small dish to capture water for thirsty pollinators.

    Hexapous, 2022 (below) is a poetic board game played to somatically integrate awareness toward protection and increased propagation of the ‘class insecta’ and more specifically pollinators. Within actions of the player, empathy increases thus clarifying human behaviors that impinge or expand the diversity of this decreasing family of partially invisible creatures; some appearing in the full light of the sun and others in its absence, at night.

    Ana MacArthur’s trans-disciplinary art practice functions as a creative catalyst by revealing nature’s processes and connected metaphors through the lenses of life’s relationship to light, environmental intelligence, and appropriate technology. MacArthur’s years of art/science researched-based practice along with tactile engagement with light and environmental work has focused on biodiversity preservation via collaborating with scientists and biologists, immersion in fieldwork including in the Amazon rainforest, pioneering the field of dichromate holography, site specific projects working with community, and innovative curriculum building in biomimicry, environmental education, and STEAM with the desire to catalyze significant change. She has exhibited her art projects and lectured internationally.

    Featured Images (top to bottom): ©Ana MacArthur, Ignition, Techno-Artists: New Paradigms for Virtual Reality, Metro State College of Denver, Colorado, 1989, 1992;Necessary Pupils for Climate Change Variation 2, 2008, Flagstone, 18 inches circular dichromate holograms, motors, hydrocal plaster, dcg holograms on glass, steel, halogen lights, dimensions variable; Where Light Meets Water, Mumuru on the Equator, T12a, as part of LAND/ART, Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM, 2009, archival pigment print scroll, 42 x 15 inches, suspended hand lenses, dichromate hologram of solar cell, paraffin wax, LED's, digital photos on translucent paper, projected DVD in dark room, 2 part 5 feet diameter mold of Victoria amazonica;In Search of the Collaborative Blue Fringe, Part II, Heizhaus, Uferstudios, Berlin, Germany, 2016, mixed media, black tent 10 feet diameter x 10 feet, video triptych, projectors, speakers, sugar crystals, sugar castings, blue trash, sugar lens, LED light, silk panels; In Search of the Collaborative Blue Fringe, video triptych dimensions variable;Pollinator Concentrator, 2019 – 2020, site-specific interspecies installation, BioSTEAM, STEMarts program for the Taos Land Trust, sited at Rio Fernando Park on Taos Pueblo indigenous land, Taos, New Mexico; Hexapous, 2022, prints of insects or pressed flora sandwiched between Plexiglas tiles, text, marbles, o-rings, cushions, 9ft diameter, sited at Poetry Garden, Santa Fe, New Mexico, ecoartspace exhibition and fundraiser; below, portrait of artist by Kristen Kuester.

  • Sunday, January 01, 2023 5:00 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The Hungry Girls #7, linen, Fleece, thread, horse yoke, 112 x 24 inches.

    Canvases that Flow through the Landscape like Rivers at Peace with the Earth: Moira Bateman’s Truly Sustainable Dye and Abstraction Practice

    Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Moira Bateman makes work that extends local waterways onto canvas the way rivers expand lakes through the land. Using sediment and waters natural movement as her canvas, she works in conversation with the land by assembling her naturally dyed cloths into works of abstraction. Being in conversation with Moira, it quickly becomes obvious the consciousness of her work in relation to a deep reverence and appreciation of her surroundings. From sourcing to practice, to her expanded knowledge of local traditions and insights, and beyond to her personal compositional philosophy, Moira is an incredible example of a truly sustainable environmental artist. 

    Cloth after submerged in Prune Lake one year drying at lake edge, Gunflint Trail, Grand Marais, Minnesota.

    Hello Moira, it is wonderful to get to know a practitioner who is as rooted in their surroundings as you are. Waterways are so relevant to the sustainability of landscapes and land politics. So, how about we start with you and move into larger topics from there… How about: what is your personal connection to water, its microbiology, and the Minnesota ecosystem? How has it nurtured you and how have you nurtured it through this work?

    Minnesota is a very wet state! There’s up to 90,000 miles of shoreline around the lakes, wetlands, peatlands, rivers, and streams. Because water flows significantly out of and not into the state, it has been called “The center of the water universe of North America” …. most certainly by a Minnesotan. My favorite wayside rest is a three-way continental divide called The Giants Range, where water runs north to Hudson Bay, east to Lake Superior and the Atlantic Ocean, and south down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. City water in Minneapolis comes from the Mississippi River. Like other Minnesotans, I have been nurtured by our waterways - spending so much time in boats, in lakes, on the edges of lakes and rivers, walking in bogs, and crossing rivers and streams on bridges as I move around my daily life…. Living here, it seems hard not to think about and be thankful for the water and its varied landscapes. In addition to ourselves, the diverse ecosystems, biodiversity of plants, and animals that live here depend on water. I hope to tell part of the story of this beautiful “Land Where the Waters Reflect the Clouds”.

    Exhibition photo of By Way of Water (84 x 60 inches) and Watershed (72 x 144 inches), Bowery Gallery, New York City.

    I am especially excited to dig into your work with water sediment as a dyeing medium. Firstly, how have the waterways influenced your process? And what have they taught you about their surroundings and history?

    When I submerge cloth in a waterway, it is usually the bigger rivers where the cloth quickly becomes a darker shade of brown and begins disintegrating after a few weeks. I assume this is mostly from urban and agricultural run-off, but it may also be from the moving water on the cloth. I find the disintegration and unraveling of the fabric poignant as it represents a juxtaposition of fragility alongside strength; a theme that runs deep in my work.

    I learned some remarkable things about changes in waterway sediments from paleolimnologists during a residency at the St. Croix Watershed Research Station in 2018. I joined scientists in their research boat as we pulled long tubes of lake bottom sediment from far below the lake surface. Studying the sediment layers helps measure change in historical diatom communities, lake productivity, and nutrient levels in relation to climate and land use. I used diatom-fossil rich lake bottom sediment in dying the cloth for my 2019 exhibition “By Way of Water” at The Bowery Gallery in New York City. The abstractions for this series were inspired by the microscopic images of diatoms and other microscopic lake life.

    Retrieving cloth after submerged in Prune Lake one year, Gunflint Trail, Grand Marais, Minnesota.

    You use bundling techniques to create textures in your abstract work. Are there any resist techniques that have worked best for your process?

    I love shibori, but my experiments have been too distinct of patterns for my work. Strong patterns distract the eye from the overall abstractions I make and so I try to create more subtle changes by loosely bunching my fabrics when I dye them. This way, instead of patterns dyed in the fabric, I create the abstractions or patterning in my work by cutting holes or assembling light and dark pieces of fabric next to each other.

    Your process of uncontrolled dye process combined with cutting and assembly makes your work uniquely conscious while still so abstract. What is the philosophy behind your compositional style and how does it relate to the ecosystems you are working with?

    I work in abstractions because they keep my mind and eyes busy. Abstract work is my way of telling a story about ecosystems, the earth, and life. I use natural materials and processes as these add meaning to the story of the individual places. The places themselves collaborate and become imbued into the cloth and a part of the artwork. Abstraction suits this work best because the pieces are becoming a part of the place and telling their own story through the work. The work needs to be abstract because it is not portraying the place like a representational portrait--the places are bigger and more complex than a representational image could encompass. 

    Natural tannins, plant materials, iron-rich soils, and water can be unpredictable, but viscerally connected to life and the earth. As I discover how they interact, the work feels like a sort of alchemy. I go to remote places to source dye materials or leave my fabric submerged in a bog or lake bottom. I like getting my hands in the mud, literally. The cloth becomes imbued with the landscape, becoming a part of that place.

    Last summer I attended a class with Aboubakar Fofana, a Malian bogolanfini (fermented mud-dye) master. I wanted to better understand the technical aspects around these traditional materials and processes. In addition to the technical fermented mud dye techniques, I loved learning Aboubakar Fofana’s methods of respectful collection of materials, conservation of water during the rinsing process, and the saving and re-use of every speck of dried mud. I am incorporating his thoughtful practices into my own processes.

    Cloth after submerged in Lake of the Little Tree Spirits, Gneiss Outcrops, Minnesota.

    What an incredible experience and inspiration Fofana must have been! Just like the Malian bogolanfini masters, your own work is deeply connected to the earth, ecosystem, and intention of place. How important is your Minnesota location to your work? Are there other makers who inspire you?

    During graduate school I studied landscape architecture with dual concentrations in studio art and landscape ecology, the ecosystems of Minnesota being the primary focus. My aspirations looked towards earth artists like Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt as well as sculptors Eva Hesse, Magdalena Abakanowicz, and Eduardo Chillida. I was always drawn to cloth and textile art, but it wasn’t until about 2011 that I began using cloth in my work. The biggest influence for my work at that time came from author Patricia Eakins and her story “The Hungry Girls”. The work I made in response to her story made a monumental change in my art as it moved from the landscape into the gallery, and I started working with gestural markings on cloth to depict conceptual ideas.

    Currently, I look to artists who attempt to tell the story of the environment and to effect positive change. I have always enjoyed the work of Maya Lin, but I especially admire her Memorial to Vanishing Nature Project: What is Missing. I also follow the work of Studio Olafur Eliasson and admire the variety of projects that highlight global warming but also seek to find solutions for clean sustainable energy.

    By Way of Water, Peace Silk, Wax, Thread, Lake Bottom Sediment Stains, Iron, 84 x 60 inches.

    You are not alone in your appreciation of local waterways. I understand that Minnesota is home to several indigenous communities like the Dakota and the Ojibwe, whose traditions are deeply connected to the regional waterways and lakes. Have the traditions of these tribes influenced your own understanding of these spaces?

    The name Minnesota comes from the Dakota phrase Mni Sota Makoce which means “Land Where the Waters Reflect the Clouds”. Minnesota is the traditional homeland of the Dakota and their rich history here is many thousands of years old. An important book on Dakota history and culture in Minnesota is Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota by Gwen Westerman and Bruce White. The many waterways of Minnesota hold special significance to the Dakota, including a creation story centering on Bdote (the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers), a location now surrounded by an international airport, an army fort, and many busy roadways and bridges. The Ojibwe people in Minnesota reached their current homeland by following the food that grows on the water (manoomin, or wild rice). This reminds me of the beautiful sight of vast stands of tall wild rice along stretches of the Mississippi River in northern Minnesota. Significantly, Indigenous Water Protectors in Minnesota have led the way in protecting waterways by working to stop the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline from crossing critical wetlands, lakes and the Mississippi River. There are innumerable lessons to learn about land and water stewardship from Indigenous neighbors. 

    As someone who values the world’s ecosystems, your work consciously uses only natural materials (silk, sediment, and wax). What do you pay attention to when sourcing your materials?

    I use natural materials because they are the most interesting and alive to me. I practice conscientious and respectful collecting as well as conservation methods during my processes. I use peace silk which is fairly traded, sustainably sourced and cruelty free. The moths are not killed when they emerge from their cocoons. The people who weave the cloth earn a living wage and are involved in the business of selling their silk. I often think of the people who weave and the moths who make the beautiful silk that I use to create my work.

    Lastly, what ecosystems are you working with currently? What would you like appreciators of your work to know?
    My hope is to tell a story of these natural waterways that ultimately will help protect them. My current work, Etudes: Waterways, Bogs, Kayaks, is largely relating to the peat bogs of Northern Minnesota. I was eleven years old when I first stood on a quaking bog and since then I have been in awe of these beautiful, biodiverse landscapes teeming with life. I would love for people to know and love peatlands. In addition to being amazing biodiverse ecosystems and homes to many plants and animals, they are a climate super-hero. Peatlands store 30 per cent of the earth’s soil carbon while only covering 3 per cent of the earth’s surface. In Minnesota, about 10 per cent of the state is covered with peatland.

    Thank you, Moira. It has truly been an honor and deeply inspiring to interview you. 

  • Sunday, January 01, 2023 3:44 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace January 2023 e-Newsletter for subscribers is here

  • Monday, December 19, 2022 8:21 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    December 19, 2022

    This week we recognize   Wu Mali, based in Taiwan, a leading practitioner of socially engaged art. For over thirty years she has developed a distinctive approach to working with communities across Taiwan, in projects that consider rural culture, land use, environmental concerns, and the shifting relationship between the rural and urban in Asia.

    click images for more info

    Art as Environment—A Cultural Action on Tropic of Cancer, made between 2005–2007 in Chiayi County (above), is an agricultural area in south of Taiwan. With the help of the county government she invited over 30 artists to reside in 20 villages and together they attempted to shape a learning community through art. This project made a significant impact on local cultural policy and inspired people to consider different ways to activate community building. It also resulted in a series of conferences and dialogues organised by NGOs.

    "The piece I did in the 2008 Taipei Biennial is titled Taipei Tomorrow As A Lake Again (above) and it deals with global climate change; as the sea level rises, many parts of Taiwan could become underwater. In 1670, Taipei was a lake and not the city that we know. I chose the title because Taipei could return to that state again. As operators, managers, and planners of this city, how should we deal with this issue?"

    "In A Cultural Action at the Plum Tree Creek, 2010-2012 and ongoing (above), a significant part of our work was in fact to develop educational programs with primary and secondary schools. Inspired by our proposal to search for the legendary tree plum, Chen Chien-Hsing, a teacher at Zhuwei Elementary School, wrote a class plan to help students investigate Zhuwei’s ecological history. Bamboo Curtain Studio, my partner in the Plum Tree Creek project, is a respected local organization. They have carried on the work after I left. The Plum Tree Creek project generated visible changes. New Taipei City government started to pay more attention to this waterway, and is now working on a new landscape plan. Previously they never discussed policy plans with local residents; plans were sent to us, and we then, through Bamboo Curtain Studio, distribute the plans in the community. A platform for dialogue was established."

    Wu Mali lived by Plum Tree Creek. One day in 2009 Mr. Wu Chung-Ho, a local historian, told her the creek was the mother river of the Zhuwei District. People used to live on the creek (cooking, washing, and swimming). She was amazed, because the creek was filthy. She realized that if she wanted the Danshui River clean, she should work from this small creek, and she started developing the Plum Tree Creek Project with Margaret Shiu and Professor Jui-Mao Hwang. The project was funded by the National Culture and Arts Foundation (2011–2013) and consisted of three components: (1) eco education, (2) urban planning, and (3) local harvest and breakfast meetings. Each component was organized by artists and the action team." Ecofeminism: Art As Environment--A Cultural Action at Plum Creek, WEAD (2014).


    Wu Mali    lives and works in Kaohsiung and Taipei, Taiwan. She is the “godmother” of Taiwan’s socially engaged art.  After graduating from the National Art Academy, Dusseldorf, Wu Mali returned to Taiwan in 1985, and started to make installations and objects that deal with historical narratives.      Since 2000, she has produced community-based projects such as Awake in Your Skin, 2000–2004, a collaboration with the Taipei Awakening Association, a feminist group that uses fabric to explore the texture of women’s lives. In By the River, on the River, of the River, 2006, she worked with several community universities tracing the four rivers that surround Taipei.     Her project Art as Environment—A Cultural Action at the Plum Tree Creek (jointly produced with Bamboo Curtain Studio) won the Taishin Arts Award in 2013, the most prestigious art prize in Taiwan. Her  work has been included in biennials such as the 9th Shanghai Biennial, China (2012); 3rd Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, Japan (2005); and, the 46th Venice Biennial, Italy (1995). She received Taiwan’s National Award for Arts in 2016, and was appointed co-curator of the 11th Taipei Biennale, 2018.  Wu Mali is a Professor at the Graduate Institute of Transdisciplinary Art, National Kaohsiung Normal University, Taiwan.

    Featured Images (top to bottom): ©Wu Mali, Secret Garden, 1998, site specific installation at Nan Tau County; Art as Environment—A Cultural Action on the Tropic of Cancer Operation, 2005-2007, a three year project in Chiayi County; Taipei Tomorrow As A Lake Again, 2008, installation at Taipei Biennial; Farmland and the Plum Tree Creek, project with Bamboo Curtain Studio: A Cultural Action at the Plum Tree Creek, 2010-2012; Plum Tree Creek breakfast gatherings; below, portrait of the artist, 2015, by Wu Yi-Ping.

  • Monday, December 12, 2022 8:41 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    December 12, 2022

    This week we recognize   Deanna Pindell, based in Washington State and her focus on forest and water quality issues through community engagement.

    Unsanctioned Restoration Actions, 2012 (above) is an ongoing performative project in collaboration with Douglas Fir trees. The mugshots document these youthful delinquents.​ "Life for these Fir seedlings began in unfortunate circumstances. Perhaps they germinated underneath power lines, or in lots slated for development. These youths sprout as wayward and neglected weeds. They are highly at-risk for future delinquency: blocking views, disrupting power lines, and worse. Society generally chops them down before they have a chance. These yearlings must be rescued and nurtured. Eventually they are replanted along eroding hillsides and stream-banks, where trees are needed to protect the watershed. The young trees thrive in a healthier habitat, where they can be successful and useful to their ecosystem." click images for more info

    Sequestrium, 2008 (above) is a theatrical stage installation to be experienced by one person at a time. The forms of  the pods and twines are inspired by the questions:  What would it be  like to be inside, or underneath, a tree’s roots .... to feel the world from a tree’s perspective. Inscribed on the walls are a number of proverbs, quotations, and lines of poetry, about trees; collected from cultures around the world.

    Seeking Salal, 2010 (above) undertakes the restoration of both the woodland ecology and the social ecology through the important native shrub, Salal.​ The forest-habitat remediation began with removing invasive vegetation and replacing with native Salal, a keystone indigenous shrub. Handmade wattles meander 200 feet through the forest, along the trail and under trees. The wattles serve to mulch salal seedlings.​ Text is hand-stitched into the hand-made burlap wattles, using black wool. The text includes the word for Salal in eight Pacific Northwest Indigenous languages, and English poetry. Eventually the wattles will decay, becoming mulch and nesting material for the resident flora and fauna.

    We All Share the Same Water, 2012 (below) was designed to improve an existing stormwater runoff system, and adds art inspired by the research of the students who use the pond as an outdoor classroom. This earthwork functions to protect the nearby Catawba River, which supplies the drinking water aquifer for the region. The problem which we needed to solve involved slowing down the fast flow of stormwater from the nearby parking lot during rain events. The stormwater carries pollutants and sediments from the parking lot, and causes erosion. Our goal was to slow down stormwater and allow it to pool up before it gets to the settling pond. This allows the sediments  and heavy metals to settle out and filter some of the pollutants. Next, the 'pre-treated' water flows to the pond where bacteria and plants continue to cleanse the water naturally. Small critters and insects can flourish in such a stormwater pond. The students at this school used the pond as an outdoor laboratory. Together, we chose five species from their research projects to be represented in this artwork.

    Koh Seametrey, 2016 (below) is an ecosystem built by a coalition of Khmer and Western human organisms, an artificial island designed to clean water and provide wetland habitat in Cambodia. "What was there to work with, in this rural village? We used the most plentiful materials at hand: emptied plastic water bottles, bamboo, coconut coir, and a sticky clay mud, to form the traditional Khmer design of chan flower. As form came to float, we planted with water-cleansing wetlands plants, botanically known as emergent species. Roots and rhizomes of these sedges and pickerels will develop into an underwater thicket, perfect habitat for a microbial sludge that will consume pollutants. The tiniest will soon be eaten by the larger; fish and amphibians will bring forth new young in the shady, nutrient dense homeland. The emergence of this artificial territory parallels the emerging minds of the rural children at Seametry Montessori Children’s Village south of Phnom Penh. You Muoy, founder and headmistress, sponsored this artist residency with three goals: to teach children to recycle plastic bottles (in a country where potable tap water is never available); to teach the children about the plant cycles that clean the water; and to initiate the cleaning of these construction drainage ponds.     Rhizomatic reciprocity, in the most littoral of senses."

    Deanna Pindell  focuses on forest and water quality issues through sculpture, installation, and public art. She explores the complexity of these concerns and proposes functional, remediative solutions when possible.As a citizen scientist and community-engaged artist, she has worked with climate scientists, marine biologists, water-quality chemists, soils scientists and a variety of community stakeholders. Pindell also teaches art and gives presentations on ecoart history, practitioners, and potentials. Her background includes curation, gallerist, boardmember, theatrical scenic artist and set-builder, performer, producer ... a wide range of experiences as befits a lifetime working artist  Deanna lives with her husband and animals on a tiny rural farm known as Pindellopia, an art project of a different sort.​

    Featured Images (top to bottom): ©Deanna Pindell, Unsanctioned Restoration Mugshots, 2012, Douglas fir seedlings, archival digital ink print on canvas, 36 x 24 inches; Sequestrium, 2008, porcelain pods, sisal twine, resin, handwritten text, plywood booth​, exterior booth dimensions 9 x 5 x 5 feet​, installation interior 8 x 5 x 5 feet; ​Seeking Salal, 2010, plants, mulch, wattles, located at Webster’s Wood Sculpture Park, Port Angeles Fine Art Center​, Port Angeles, Washington; We All Share the Same Water, 2012, engraved granite on concrete pillars, made during residency at McColl Center for Visual Art Environmental Artist-in-Residency (EAIR), Charlotte, North Carolina; Koh Seametrey, 2016, wetlands plants, bamboo, recycled plastic water bottles, natural fibers, located in Tonli Bati, Cambodia at the Seametrey Children’s Village; below, portrait of the artist.

  • Thursday, December 01, 2022 9:55 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace December 2022 e-Newsletter for subscribers is here

  • Thursday, December 01, 2022 7:16 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Armaggarden: Community Chard installation at Fuller Craft Museum “Food Justice” exhibition, hydroponics system, autumn 2022, Brockton, MA 

    Nanabush’s Spirit Brings Dinner Home with a Smile: Wendy DesChene + Jeff Schmuki working as PlantBot Genetics

    Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Wendy DesChene and Jeff Schmuki use a satirical guise of corporate agriculture to create interventions that help address food insecurity in the communities of installation. By promoting solutions like hydroponics systems to combat climate and industry related soil and water depletion, they advocate for existing projects and help develop new initiatives in communities that face poverty and insecurity. They approach these difficult topics not in a confrontational manner, but by using humor and interactivity to bridge understanding and have a lasting impact. 

    Armaggarden: Community Chard installation at Fuller Craft Museum “Food Justice” exhibition, hydroponics system, autumn 2022, Brockton, MA

    Wendy and Jeff, it is very exciting to get the chance to discuss your work at a time when food insecurity and the need for integration and innovation are so poignant. How have your common goals of art as political intervention led you to the topic of food security and accessibility?  

    As one of the building blocks of culture, cuisine helps define cultural identity by strengthening communities. By promoting healthy and prosperous communities, food becomes a political act to combat systemic poverty, food insecurity and manipulation. By association, healthy food systems help combat corporate greed and raise people out of poverty. Lower-quality, homogenized convenience foods that are marketed to people struggling with time and/or money, continue this circle of disempowerment. We believe that access to clean, affordable, and healthy food is a basic need and right. 

    Food Justice Exhibition at Fuller Craft Museum, autumn 2022

    I was lucky enough to see your piece “Armagardden: Community Chard” at the Fuller Craft Museum. You have created a hydroponics system built out of otherwise discarded terra-cotta refuse that produces actual produce. How have you designed your work to support food justice within communities directly?

    Jeff: The title of this work “grows” from the concept that the people living near the installation will tend to it and continually harvest food from it. No matter where the garden is located, the grown chard is directly donated to non-profit organizations that put it into the hands of people who are experiencing food insecurity. The art center becomes a local community garden during this time. This interruption of the day-to-day workings of the gallery is also important because it demonstrates food can be grown anywhere. Food insecurity is not only caused by geography.

    Hydroponics is as healthy as traditional cultivation. Our process involves recycled ceramics that are fired at temperatures above 1500°F. This vaporizes unwanted pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. All other hydroponic equipment is also sanitized following standard food handling practices. Since hydroponically grown plants are raised in a sanitized environment, we can use fewer pesticides and herbicides as well as less water and space. The ‘Community Chard’ work is free from any pesticides and herbicides.

    Portable Solar Gardens

    It is so cool to integrate the museum space into the surrounding community this way. Also, I did not realize that hydroponics systems are thousands of years old! How does contemporary Indigenism relate to food and hydroponic systems?
    Wendy: No one in North America understands the land better than the people who thrived here for 20,000 years. Colonial farming styles started taking over about 350 years ago – a blink of an eye in the overall presence of humans on the continent- but with it brought a rapid decline of natural systems that were previously stable. It's time we look at older techniques that were forcefully dismissed by colonial re-education and relocation. This cultural genocide changed traditional diets and lifestyles, creating social and economic inequalities that contribute to food insecurity to this day. As a woman and a minority, it was clear that this work needed to challenge elitist and discriminatory structures that touch all areas of a healthy and happy life, including food, shelter, and education.  
    Reclamation is the modern native story. Sustainable innovation is a First Nation's ideal. Hydroponics systems use less water than industrial farming styles by delivering nutrients and water to the roots directly. For example, within the Navajo Nation, food insecurity is 76.7% (the highest reported rate in the US) because their reservations regularly experience severe drought due to extraction companies nearby. Through the Farm & Garden Incentive, hydroponics systems can help mitigate these effects by producing higher yields in shorter time frames using less space and without soil. Using these systems does not contribute to the destruction and disruption of topsoil unlike industrial agriculture that has severely depleted topsoil integrity and biodiversity in the US. 

    Monsantra Plant Bots (2019) from “PlantBot Genetics, Inc., interactive animatronic work, recycled and refashioned mixed materials

    And you address this directly! By creating a satirical corporation like PlantBot Genetics, you are directly criticizing the systems and structures of industrial agriculture through humor! How does satire create lasting change in food? And what would you like to change most?
    Transparency. Big-Ag food system designs are difficult to understand, inaccessible, and overly complicated. They also put profit before people by promoting products such as herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers. Since documenting how our food is produced is illegal in many states due to food libel laws, it seems like the food industry believes the less the public knows about how food is produced, the better.
    The PlantBot projects are a way to educate and advocate. Still, no one is standing on a street corner, picketing, or handing out flyers. Today that type of engagement turns people off. Instead, we are on the street with a remote-controlled plant, piquing curiosity through laughter. Humor is universal, disarming and puts everyone in a good mood. Showcasing the irrationality of big Ag in an absurdist, yet funny way pushes for change in an unexpected way. 

    Automatic Greenhouse detail, PlantBot Genetics, Devils Hopyard, CT (2019)

    Jeff: We love subversive structures because many people are overworked and don't always have the mental bandwidth left to take action for what is best. Changing perceptions through a fun disruption creates room for experiences that an audience will remember. Wendy modeled the PlantBot's function after her favorite First Nation trickster and hero, Nanabush (Ojibwe). Although Nanabush stories can be used as entertainment, they can also be used to pass down information and life lessons.  Our lessons try to be empowering and fun. As a collaborative, we have never been interested in art that lands in a morgue-like-museum atmosphere to hang on a wall and die. We are also weary of artworks that illustrate problems without offering solutions. PlantBot Genetics practices Socially Engaged Dialogical Art which means art that interacts with communities directly to discuss what is happening in their area. Generally, people understand the importance of making changes; they are just overwhelmed and don’t always know what is best or where to start. Our projects work from the bottom up to provide easy solutions that make an impact. Get the average family involved in any way you can, and they will make small changes from within. Culture is fluid, and if you can engage enough people this way, you can instigate individual decisions that lead to community actions and a more just society. 

    Thank you, Wendy and Jeff!

  • Monday, November 28, 2022 9:49 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    November 28, 2022

    This week we recognize  Perdita Phillips, based in Australia, and her thirty plus year practice of imagining environmental futures.

    Cyanotypes (above) are an early photographic technique invented by astronomer Sir John Herschel in 1842. Paper is sensitized and then exposed to sunlight to turn uncovered areas of the image blue. In Phillips' work Natura Autem Vivit, Sed Occisio de Felibus, natural materials including bones have been combined with hand-drawn stencils. 10% of endemic Australian land mammal fauna are extinction and 21% of the 273 species are now threatened. Quendas (top and bottom right, above) were once found throughout the southwest of Australia. But, unlike many other local marsupials, they still survive in pockets in the urban areas of Perth. Nature is alive, but [for] the killing of cats. click images for more info

    "Anticipatory terrain (above) is about dreams and nightmares and the night landscape as a place of uncertainty and potential. The video installation contains footage from Perth’s urban wetlands, plotting the shadowy traces of Western Grey Kangaroos, which may or may not inhabit various locations. It sprang from a re-envisaging of Goya’s El sueño de la razón produce monstruos (The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters) where the positions of dreamer and dreams might be reversed and how, along with an ethical commitment to let animals exist in their own worlds, one should also recognise how other animals are essential to our own (entangled) being. Do landscapes, themselves, dream? That is a much harder question to answer, but even posing the question alerts us to the possibility of not the singular dream of twentieth-century modernist development, but of dreams as multiple, open-ended assemblages. And thus “we might look around to notice this strange new world, and we might stretch our imaginations to grasp its contours” (Tsing, 2015, p. 3)."

    Artistic practices and ecoaesthetics in post-sustainable worlds is a chapter written by Phillips (above), included in the book, An introduction to sustainability and aesthetics: The arts and design for the environment (2015). This chapter considers the question of sustainability and aesthetics from the perspective of an artist’s critical reflection on contemporary environmental art practice. It adopts a specifically concretionary approach, examining the way concepts from different disciplines might be able to generate creative and speculative aesthetic possibilities. It considers scientific ecology alongside allusionsto Guattari’s (2000) ‘three ecologies’. It argues that art and aesthetics has a role in ‘unsolidifying’ sustainability. Through reference to a practice-based example, it concludes with a call for an aesthetics of action in the face of the inevitable uncertainties inherent in an ecological worldview.

    Wattie (below) is a short video meditation included in Embodied Forest, in 2021, that shows crown shyness as each tree weaves its own space facing the sun. Wattie (Taxandria juniperina) are thin spindly trees that live in watery landscapes, in single age stands at Tjuirtgellong (Lake Seppings) in Albany/ Kinjarling, a rural city in Western Australia on Menang Noongar Boodja. They use their strength in numbers to deflect southerly storms. Once extensive, the Wattie thickets were sponge landscapes that sucked up water over winter and let it slowly seep out over the dry summers of a Mediterranean climate. Phillips writes, "sensing soundscapes is an embodied practice of attunement that can decentre settler cultures."

    We Must Catch Up, 2017/2019 (below) was a performance/ installation that ran 9:30am – 5pm daily, for one week at Paper Mountain in Northbridge, Western Australia. "In confusing and compromising times, we must take action despite being surrounded by doubt. We Must Catch Up explores the point of talking through doubt and progressing towards action. In this interactive exhibition, participants experienced a time of reflection in a world that needs thinkers and people who absorb and react to the mad auratic flows that surround us." Meanwhile, other gallery visitors were able to observe or overhear conversations of warmth and positive exchange. Later, the mountain was rebuilt at The Farm, Margaret River, 2019, allows visitors time to catch up surrounded by paddocks and peppermint (Wanil) trees on the land of the Wadandi People in the South West Boojarah region.

    Perdita Phillips    is an interdisciplinary artist born and raised on unceded Whadjuk Nyoongar Boodja. After years of wrestling with the ideas of beauty and wildness, Phillips decided that things are not simple: they are complex and contested and worth fighting for. This is what she calls the both/and condition: how to live in an impure and compromised world. Perdy has employed many different media including walking, mapping, ephemeral outdoor works/ situations (eclogues), photographs/video and spatial sound. Her work is marked by a continuing interest in the relationships between humans and nonhuman others (rocks, plants, animals, ecosystem processes). Beginning in 1992, Phillips’ commitment to ‘ecosystemic thinking’ has led her to work with material and conceptual networks as diverse as drains, minerals, termites and bowerbirds. Originally training in environmental science, she completed a MA at Goldsmiths College 1997-1999. Phillips’ practice-based PhD (2003-2006) fieldwork/fieldwalking was recognized as top three annual abstracts in the Leonardo Abstracts Service Database. She has received two Inter Arts Grants from the Australia Council and has contributed to many interdisciplinary forums. Phillips has recently contributed to, and edited,  Tectonics: bringing together artistic practices united by lithic thinking beyond human scales (2021, Lethologica Press), the both/and issue of CSPA Quarterly (issue 36, 2022) and Swamphen: A Journal of Cultural Ecology issue 8 on Particular Planetary Aesthetics (2022, co-edited). Other published books include Fossil III (2019, as part of the Lost Rocks project). Current art projects revolve around geological time, extractivism and contemporary colonial unforgetting.

    Featured Images (top to bottom): ©Perdita Phillips, Natura Autem Vivit, Sed Occisio de Felibus, 2019, cyanotype print, City of Joondalup, Invitational Art Prize, Western Australia; Anticipatory terrain (capricious dreams), 2017, video installation; Artistic Practices and Ecoaesthetics in Post-sustainable Worlds, chapter in Crouch, C. Kaye, N and Crouch, J. An introduction to sustainability and aesthetics: The arts and design for the environment (55-68) Boca Raton, Florida: Brown Walker Press; Wattie, 2018, looped video, Wattie (Taxandria juniperina) at Tjurltgellong (Lake Seppings), Kinjarling/Albany, on the lands of the Menang people, Western Australia, included in Embodied Forest 2021; We Must Catch Up, 2017/2019, performance/ installation at Paper Mountain and The Farm, Western Australia (photo Christopher Young); Perdita Phillips at the Flow walkshop 2021, listening to swamp water by Jane Finlay (below). 

  • Monday, November 21, 2022 10:30 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    November 21, 2022

    This week we recognize    Kim Abeles, based in Los Angeles, and her thirty plus year practice addressing ecological issues.

    "I created the first Smog Collector in 1987 while working on artworks about the "invisible" San Gabriel Mountains, obscured by the smog as I looked from my studio fire escape in downtown Los Angeles. In the 1980s it was common to hear people insist that it was fog, not smog, that filled the air. The Smog Collectors are presented in several series, including the Presidential Commemorative Smog Plates, all the presidents from McKinley to Bush with their portraits in smog and their quotes about the environment or industry hand-painted in gold around the rims. I left them out on the roof longer, depending on their environmental records." click images for more info

    In 1995, using trash picked up from Los Angeles beaches, Abeles created a sculpture depicting a dolphin, which was designed to tour schools to help children understand the effects of throwing trash into storm drains. Entitled Run-off Dolphin Suitcase, the portable sculpture put the ethic of pollution prevention, and the value of preventing ocean pollution into vividly concrete terms. The familiarity of garbage run-off art stimulates an assessment of one's own complicity and how to prevent future "run-off" pollution in the ocean and, by implication, to protect all of our natural environment.

    Women and Water (above) was originally created for the exhibition, (re-) cycles of Paradise in 2012, curated by ARTPORT_making waves, and first exhibited at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) in cooperation with swissnex San Francisco. The embedded videos are presented in pairs with the first in real time and for the second, one minute of footage is slowed to 6 hours. In some parts of the world, women spend as much as six hours a day carrying water to their communities. The journey's length for these courageous women to carry the heavy water containers is depicted in this artwork.

    Cabinet of Wondering (below) brings together a wall covered with a large photograph of objects that I have collected over many years. Embedded in the wall are video monitors and cases for specimens on loan from the Natural History Museum of the University of Florida. Cabinet of Wondering expresses the urge to separate objects from their surroundings, and then bring them together on a shelf, in the box, in our imagination. Throughout human history, people have collected objects—specimens, spiritual talismans, souvenir pencils, family remembrances—in an effort to possess, reaffirm their existence, and to connect with the “natural world.”

    "Citizen Seeds (below) is a series of six sculptures placed in various locations along three miles at the start of the Park to Playa trail. The sculptures are mixed media and portray six plants native to Southern California: Sugar Pine, California Black Oak, Coast Live Oak, Bladderpod, Black Walnut, and Manzanita. Abeles designed the seeds to have a visual presence from afar (sizes range from 6’ to 8’) and serve as a meeting place for trail users. The top of each seed appears to be split open, revealing a map and other design elements. Each map is fashioned in bronze, indicates its location on the trail, and includes the word “Here”. The sculptures then become wayfinding objects." Alicia Vogl Saenz for ecoartspace blog, April 21, 2022.

                 Kim Abeles is an artist whose artworks explore biography, geography, feminism, and the environment. Her work speaks to society, science literacy, and civic engagement, creating projects with the California Science Center, health clinics and mental health departments, and the National Park Service. Her collaborations with air pollution control agencies involve images from the smog, and largescale projects with natural history museums in California, Colorado and Florida incorporate specimens ranging from lichen to nudibranchs. In 1987, she innovated a method to create images from the smog in the air, and Smog Collectors brought her work to national and international attention. National Endowment for the Arts funded two recent projects: as artist-in-residence at the Institute of Forest Genetics she focused on Resilience; and, Valises for Camp Ground: Arts, Corrections, and Fire Management in the Santa Monica Mountains were made in collaboration with Camp 13, a group of female prison inmates stationed in the Santa Monica Mountains who fight wildfires. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, J. Paul Getty Trust Fund for the Visual Arts, California Community Foundation and Pollack-Krasner Foundation. Her work is in forty public collections including MOCA, LACMA, Berkeley Art Museum, Brooklyn Museum, California African American Museum, and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. Abeles’ process documents are archived at the Center for Art + Environment, Nevada Museum of Art.

    Featured Images (top to bottom): ©Kim Abeles     Presidential Commemorative Smog Plates, 1992, smog (particulate matter) on porcelain plates; Run-off Dolphin Suitcase, 1995, beach trash/storm drain run-off, welded steel, satin, mixed media, 16 x 64 x 22 inches, Courtesy Institute of Contemporary Art San Diego; Women and Water, 2017(2012-ongoing), terəˈf3:mə, Orange Coast College, California. Photo Credit Kristine Schomaker; Cabinet of Wondering, 2014-2015, Technology & the Natural World,  Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida; Citizen Seed, 2022, California State and Los Angeles County Parks, Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles, California. Commissioned by LA County Arts and Culture;  Portrait of the artist by Joyce Kim for The New York Times, December 9, 2021.

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