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)

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Mailing address: PO Box 5211 Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502
  • Friday, March 31, 2023 7:37 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace April 2023 e-Newsletter for subscribers is here

  • Friday, March 31, 2023 12:40 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    “Sculpture to Transform Culture into Nature,” street infrastructure displayed with regrowth, Mark Brest van Kempen

    Passive Resistance: Artists stand back and watch their work grow

    Reflections on Growth with Jen Urso and Mark Brest van Kempen

    An interview by Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Jen Urso and Mark Brest van Kempen parallel each other in topics related to social and personal healing that is deeply connected to their surrounding localities and the natural world. Mark approaches these themes by directly integrating his grassroots organizing and the literal weight and materials of infrastructure and the natural world to display the wounds and growth of human influence. Jen takes a deeply personal perspective, exploring the literal edges of her person and psyche in lines and forms reflecting on locality. Their work is currently showing in the exhibition “Modern Desert Markings: An Homage to Las Vegas Area Land Art” at the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art at UNLV in Nevada, which is simultaneous to the controversial land-art fair “Desert X” in Southern California.

    Jen Urso, “What the Desert Already Has,” 2023, terrarium with native desert growth, included in Modern Desert Markings.

    Mark, your contribution to the “Modern Desert Markings” exhibition at UNLV will follow a theme of environmental wounding and healing in conversation with De Maria’s “Las Vegas Piece” (1969). Much of your work has related to bioremediation from industrial and human influences such as “Biolabyrinth” or “Floating Marshes”. Since De Maria made his marks using a bulldozer that had lasting effects on the otherwise untouched landscape at the time: are you planning an intervention of your own through native species landscape rehabilitation? How do these parallels play out in this landscape for you?

    MBvK: My approach to working with landscape varies considerably depending on whether I am working with a human-altered site or a “natural” site. In the case of this dialogue with De Maria’s work, I am not only interested in the initial sculptural gesture of De Maria, but I am also interested in the intervening encroachment of the surrounding landscape that is erasing this initial gesture quickly. Within the fifty-odd years since De Maria made the piece, the actions of weather and plant growth have made the piece very hard to find and, in some areas, completely erased it. This rebounding of desert life (without any help from me) is inspiring and speaks to the temporary quality of all human activities no matter how large and aggressive. Therefore, I feel that is enough to point out this ‘healing’, overriding ability of nature without help from me.

    It is interesting to visit these earthworks and consider the work of the landscape on the pieces as part of the work. Most people only see photographs of these pieces that were taken when the pieces were first completed with crisp edges. Now just a few years later the pieces have completely disappeared or are quickly eroding. I recently visited Double Negative and I would argue that the erosion is as striking as Heizer’s initial massive gesture. In a few hundred years the piece will be completely gone, while I imagine that the Mona Lisa or Pieta will still be intact.

    Mark Brest van Kempen, “Living from Land”, full immersion land project performance

    You both certainly have this interest in human-influence and ephemerality in common, though your processes are so different.

    Jen, in many of your performative interventions, you display interactions and experiences through drawn media and other forms of line work and relate this to human connection. How does the extraordinary desert landscape influence your practice?

    JU: In drawing, I am more interested in capturing movement and change. No matter what you are drawing, it is never the same each time you draw it. This is either because you have changed your experience with it or the thing itself is older, decaying, eroding or moving. Regardless of what climate or environment I’m in, my work is subject to the same forces of time and change. The desert influences my drawing less and influences my sense of tenacity and resilience more. Even in the smallest sidewalk cracks and untreated land, desert plants will find a way to survive and thrive. They have built defenses like hard exteriors, thorns or bulbous water repositories. I see the parallel here with my own survival and ability to thrive despite not being raised with what many others would consider essential. The desert’s biome doesn’t consider itself to be lacking because it is all it has ever known.

    Jen Urso, “Measuring Coastline,” drawing using composted remains of the artist’s sister

    I am so glad you mentioned resilience, plant life, and the deep psychological connection our “Daseins” (senses of self) have with the landscape.

    Jen, you explored this in your “Coastlines” project, no?

    JU: Yes, the “Measuring the Coastline” piece uses the term “coastline” to refer to the concept in fractal geometry where the closer you investigate or measure a coastline, the longer it becomes. This is related to the crevices and details of an edge and how, as you look closer, there is always more detail to see. After so many changes from the introspection that came during my sister’s illness and her death, I wanted a way to measure it irrationally. So, I thought of myself as a coastline or a country where someone was trying to map the edges. Each time I looked closer, I imagined my edges would expand. My goal was to have a direct, sensory experience with my sister by using her composted remains to dust around the edges of my body, showing my actual form meeting with what was left of hers.

    Mark Brest van Kempen, “Transnational Footprints”

    That is so touching and heart-wrenching, Jen.

    Mark, you share this interest in the personal becoming political through your interwoven approach to art practice as an extension of your life and activism directly like “Living from the Land” Your work seems to stand at a conjunction between grassroots community organizing and material activation to contend with and often correct human influence in the natural environment. Where does art end and your life begin? Is there a difference? And what is the role of material creation as a result of your activities?

    MBvK: To me art should be a verb just like living is a verb. To say that art is an object is like saying that music is a piano.

    I think art at its most basic form is a human communicating their perception. Perception is being in a place, and sensing that place with your body. Bodies sensing in space is what we are. When I first let go of traditional art materials like paint and canvas, that’s where I landed. I said to myself “I am a body in this place, so these are the tools and materials I will use to make my art.” “Living From Land” was very related to landscape painting, but instead of standing outside of the picture and representing it with paint, I stood inside the image and represented it by eating it with my body. I think this approach often pushes art and life closer together, but the art is framed in a way that differentiates it from the rest of life.

    Jen Urso, “Measuring Coastline,” drawing using composted remains of the artist’s sister

    I love a lot of very traditionally produced art and material objects can convey powerful feelings and ideas, but I also think that you don’t necessarily need objects for an art experience.

    When I approach a site, I consider everything that I can about it. That includes humans interacting with places. Sometimes humans interact physically with a landscape and sometimes they interact conceptually by creating laws, rules and traditions associated with places. Private property, political borders, laws that apply within one boundary and not in another are all interesting “materials” for me to work with as sculpture. The “Free Speech Monument”, “Leona Quarry Earthwork” and “Benicia Tryptic” are a few examples of projects that have included people and political processes as material.

    Soil as a material is rich with cultural and political meaning. We grow our food from soil, laws become embedded in soil, identities are associated with soil and our bodies ultimately become soil. Being so loaded is an amazing material to work with.

    Speaking of soil and human influence: Desert X is happening simultaneously to the group exhibition you are in at UNLV. Many of the topics are socially nuanced sculptures amidst the desert landscape in both shows.

    Jen, Your work is intimately tied to the people you interact with and in Arizona, where you live, has been a controversial player in migration politics. How are you integrating migration and native rights topics into your own work? How do you see the desert landscape as reflective of social interfaces?

    JU: The Phoenix area has a rich history of agriculture and settlements that can be traced back at least 1,500 years. In learning some of the ethnobotany of this place, I have learned how much indigenous knowledge has been squandered and destroyed. Those who moved here believed that controlling the environment was paramount. My process in my life and in my work has been to trust the place I am in to slowly teach me what I need to know. By observing and responding, I am trying to elicit a back-and-forth with my work where I set frameworks while giving up control.

    Jen Urso, “What the Desert Already Has,” 2023, terrarium with native desert growth, included in Modern Desert Markings

    This absolutely parallels Mark’s current theme of “environmental wounding and healing.”

    Mark, what is your reaction to social parallels in the Desert X exhibition? What is your reaction to the physical effects on the environment related to viewership and their transport?

    MBvK: I think if the work reveals a deeper appreciation and understanding of the landscape for viewers it is generally a good thing. If it is only an opportunity for a selfie and a post on social media proving that you went to an event, obviously this is an exploitation of the landscape. Desert X, like the rest of the art world, is a mixture of opportunities for great reflection and superficial posturing. More generally about travelling and keeping track of carbon footprints, I think it is important to understand the complex problems associated with being a part of a huge, industrialized society. It is crucial to be looking clearly at how our actions are impacting the world and try to move in a more positive direction. At the same time, we shouldn’t be paralyzed by an impossible desire to be perfect. This usually leads to despair and giving up. I think it is more valuable for us to move imperfectly towards an ideal but continue it for a lifetime.

    Mark Brest van Kempen, “Living from Land”

  • Monday, March 27, 2023 8:32 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    March 27, 2023

    This week we recognize  Alyce Santoro, and her twenty-five year practice combining sound, textiles and her coined concept and works known as "philosoprops."

    The Homeopathic Remedies for the Five Ills of Society (above) is an ongoing series which began in 2002, presenting elixirs in brown glass medicine bottles with droppers for social ailments based on the premise that “like cures like.” “Violence” was prepared by soaking a bullet in distilled water. “Greed” is an infusion made from coins. “Consumerism” is a dilution of bottled water from Wal-Mart. “Alienation” is empty (in homeopathy, the more diluted the remedy, the more potent it is). “Detachment” contains a drop of super glue many times diluted (this is a “dialectic remedy,” the ailment being countered by its opposite. I wonder if, like especially diluted remedies, paradoxical ones have special potency as well?). Image courtesy Klemens Gasser and Tanja Grunert Gallery 

    click images for more info

    "With an early background in biology and scientific illustration, I set out with a straightforward goal: to make visible the invisible wonders of science and nature. Shortly, however, upon encountering overlaps and paradoxes inherent in accepted—if sometimes seemingly divergent—approaches to art "versus" science, I became focused on the cultural phenomena that cause these fields to be viewed as separate, and the ways that social imaginaries form and can shift."

    "In the 1990s, I coined the word philosoprops to describe multi-media works intended to raise a question, illustrate a concept, catalyze an action, challenge perception, or spark a dialog. Philosoprops offer subtle, often playful critiques of the foibles of highly literal, positivist, hierarchical, anthropocentric, reductionist thinking."

    "....Philosophical apparatuses and instruments –philosoprops– are the tools of Alyce’s obvious multiverse. Informed by a love of wisdom and an absurd sense of humor, these material propaganda draw attention to human behaviors and the social, political and environmental ramifications of our beliefs and actions. Alyce’s
    instruments broadcast a hopeful message: that changing the world for the better begins the moment we realize it is possible. When we reach out with open arms, an open mind and an open heart, simple actions (like hanging laundry in the sun to dry instead of relying on a machine powered by coal, fracking, or nuclear fission) take on transformative power...." – Eve Andrée Laramée, interdisciplinary artist, ecological activist

    TellTale Sails–Score), 2007 (above): "In December of 2012, two months after Hurricane Sandy struck New York City, I was invited to mount an exhibition of the philosoprops at Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert Gallery in the Chelsea district of New York City. The gallery – like many others in the neighborhood – had been completely submerged during the storm and was in the process of being restored. While the gallery owners were appreciators of my philosophy-­based work, for the reopening on January 10, 2013, they felt a particular sense of urgency to exhibit a piece that could offer a sense of resilience, optimism, and cooperation with the elements. They wanted a 21-­‐foot-­‐tall set of Sonic Fabric sails to fill a room that had been flooded under 14 feet of water. On the night of the opening we hoisted the sails, raised a toast to Spaceship Earth, and symbolically broke a bottle of Champaign on the bow of a boat we are all in together."

    Santoro's thesis for Rhode Island School of Design's M.A. in Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies was completed January 2020. Titled "An Intricate Ensemble: The Art-Science of an Ecological Imaginary for the Anthropocene Epoch"(below), her abstract states: The contradictions inherent in European Enlightenment-based “logics” that externalize humans from “nature” were a concern for the Romantic Naturalists, Dadaists, and Surrealists. More recently, some in the environmental humanities and socio-ecologically-concerned arts and sciences have also posed challenges to anthropocentric, hierarchical, positivist modes of thought. I suggest that by engaging the ludic, imaginative, and collaborative while bearing the empirical in mind, dualisms (such as objective and subjective, individual and collective) dissipate, and existence as a dialectical state of intricate ensemble can be revealed. In light of catastrophic disruption to Earth’s life-sustaining processes by exploitative forms of human activity, I argue an “ecological imaginary” is urgently needed, and everyone is capable of contributing to its prefiguring.

    Alyce Santoro  has a background in both marine biology and scientific illustration, and has been exploring the intersection of art and science for over twenty-five years. Widely known as the inventor of Sonic Fabric — an audible textile composed of recorded audiotape — Santoro’s interdisciplinary projects weave together philosophy and physics with ecology and social activism in quirky and provocative ways. Her visual and sound pieces have appeared internationally in over 50 exhibitions related to innovative textiles, experimental musical scores, sound/listening, and the intersection of art, science, and ecology. She has written for Leonardo Music Journal, the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts Journal, Antennae, and Hyperallergic. In 2015, she self-published Philosoprops: A Unified Field Guide, a catalog of her work/exegesis on the ways that thought—and the phenomena that spark it—shapes culture. Santoro holds a B.S. in Marine Biology from Southampton College in Southampton, New York, a Graduate Certificate in Scientific Illustration and an M.A. in Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island.

    Featured Images (top to bottom): ©Alyce Santoro, Homepathic Remedies for the Five Ills of Society, 2002 - ongoing, photo by Mary Lou Saxon; Subtle Reality Technologies, 2011, photo by Mary Lou Saxon; Amplified Cactus (Improvisation on "Child of Tree" by John Cage), performed September 5, 2012 on the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Cage, Projects for Prepared Ear presented works in honor of the composer at the Marfa book company in Marfa, Texas; TellTale Sails–Score, 2007, suit of Sonic Fabric sails, recorded with the “Sounds of ½ Life” collage, 9 x 9 feet; MA Thesis "An Intricate Ensemble: The Art-Science of an Ecological Imaginary for the Anthropocene Epoch," 2020, photo courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; portrait of the artist, Sea Urchin Spine Headgear, 2004, live action photo by Matthew Magee.

  • Monday, March 20, 2023 4:17 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    March 20, 2023

    This week we recognize  Krista Leigh Steinke Krista Leigh Steinke, and her interdisciplinary lens-based practice focused on the interconnection between human experience and the natural world.

    "Inspired by spirit photography and post-mortem photography from the late 19th century, Purgatory Road, 2010 - 2014 (above)chronicles my experimentation with the photo medium while exploring the fragility of life. The project takes its title from an actual place where I live in the summer months – a wooded region divided by a dirt-covered path. Local legends and folklore surround this road, where the land on one side slopes down into a dark, cavernous area while a lush, peaceful green forest grows on the opposite side. Rooted in my concern for the environment, these images serve as metaphors for the concept of purgatory as an in-between state; a place where visual and conceptual polarities intersect and become blurry." 

    click images for more info

    The Earth is Not a Spaceship, 2016 (above) is an experimental film that remixes vintage educational source footage collected by the Texas Archive of the Moving Image. A woman’s voice narrates the film, functioning as a type of mother nature character. The narration becomes haunting and robotic when coupled with glitchy film footage that has been re-recorded off of various electronic devices. The reworking of the footage presents new meaning at the intersection of abstraction, the digital sublime, and an implied dystopian future.

    "After Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, I started thinking about cycles...cycles in the weather, cycles in nature, and cycles in one’s lifetime. I thought about how a natural disaster can suddenly and unexpectedly interrupt the cycle of daily life and how recovery efforts quickly become integrated into our day to day routine. 40 Days After the Storm, 2018 (above) is not specifically about the Houston flood but a response to the disaster - a project that aims to poetically address the idea of aftermath and resilience. The installation chronicles the days following Hurricane Harvey. Daily samples from the flood site (debris from homes, dead insects, fallen branches, even a lizard that drowned) were placed inside homemade pinhole cameras and left in my yard for 40 days – one specimen a day, one camera at a time.  During the extended exposure, the path of the rising and setting sun combined with watermarks from the rain become layered with shadowy objects that appear to be floating in water. Here, the microscopic world of an insect becomes entwined with the larger universe in the sky. Each specimen represents a small moment or story that points to loss, survival, or recovery. Collectively, these seemingly insignificant objects become part of a bigger picture — a reference to how the ordinary everyday can be shaped by an epic event such as a flood or natural disaster."

    Sun Notations, 2018 (above) is part of a larger body of work that focuses on the sun as both a subject and creative tool to reflect upon our physical and psychological connection to our planet’s closest star. For this project, pinhole cameras (made from soda cans, cookie tins, and other small containers) capture the sun’s pathway over time, with exposures that can last from a few hours up to two years. The cameras, which sometimes contain multiple pinholes, are rotated periodically, so the rhythm of the sun’s movement becomes a drawing process or mark-making system, like the routine of crossing days off a calendar. Light leaks, dirt, water damage, embedded dead bugs, even rips in the paper, become part of the visual alchemy and function as metaphors for the delicate balance we share with the physical world. Here, time and space expand, overlap, and then dissipate as clusters of dust appear like stars and the landscape morphs into abstraction. Titles for the images, such as “Since you’ve been gone” or “70 days after the election,” frame exposures around personal and collective experience, giving the work a diaristic context, inviting viewers to consider how our lives align with the cosmic cycles.

    Sun Mapping, 2022 (below) is an experimental video that animates the pathway of the sun juxtaposed with imagery of natural specimens collected along the Gulf Coast. The project, a unique merging of analog and digital processes, is a poetic exploration of the symbiotic relationship between the oceanfront landscape, its ecosystem, and the greater cosmos.

    Krista Leigh Steinke  is an interdisciplinary lens-based artist working in moving image, experimental photography, and collage. Her work fluctuates between the photographic and the abstract to present poetic reflections on time, place, perception, and the interconnection between human experience and the natural world. With the use of pinhole cameras, homemade filters, and other unconventional techniques, she draws meaning from her materials and process, often exploring photo media as a point of inquiry or embracing it as a catalyst for new possibilities such as an installation or a stop-frame animation. Informed by various sources (from art and photographic history, science and star maps, memory and the female perspective, to current events and the weather), her creative research often takes a diaristic form as a way to illustrate how the personal, social, and universal intertwine. The plight of insects, the pathway of the sun, a hurricane, a global pandemic – she is interested in both the obvious and more mysterious ways that nature impacts our lives while calling attention to broader issues surrounding the environment and our shared community.

    Featured Images (top to bottom): ©Krista Leigh Steinke,Purgatory Road, 2010 - 2014;The Earth is Not a Spaceship, 2016, created for "Mess With Texas," co-presented by TAMI and the Aurora Picture Show, Texas;40 Days After the Storm, 2018; Sun Notations, 2018; Sun Mapping, 2022, commissioned for The Port of Corpus Christi Authority Building, Texas, curated by Mary Magsamen and sponsored by The Aurora Picture Show and The Weingarten Art Group, image by Magsamenportrait of the artist.

  • Monday, March 13, 2023 8:39 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    March 13, 2023

    This week we recognize  Renata Buziak, and her almost twenty-year practice as a photo-media artist creating images of medicinal plants by an experimental biochrome process which she has developed.

    Biochromes are generated by arranging plant samples on photographic emulsions, and allowing them to transform through the bacterial micro-organic activities that are part of cyclic decay and regeneration. This process of developing images through decomposition led me to work with time-lapse photography, which allows recording the blossoming and movement of fungi and microbes.” RB

    This art and science endeavor traces the activities of the microbes, reveals the complex process of decay, while addressing its metamorphic power. 

    click images for more info

    For thousands of years plants have been used for their healing properties throughout the world. Many edible and medicinal plants, including various species of Eucalyptus, were used by Quandamooka people on North Stradbroke Island as food and for treatments of various conditions and illnesses. In Buziak's series titled Tree Line (above) from 2012, she presents the Eucalyptus species Corymbia gummifera (bloodwood), which is recognized for medicinal qualities including the essential oil and is considered a bactericide. The images are the result of micro organic activities present during decay, celebrating their healing, cultural and visual qualities and highlighting their significance in the cycle of life.

    Polish Meadows, 2018-2019 (above) is a series of works focusing on medicinal flora of Southeast Poland, many of which are internationally recognized herbs with medicinal properties, such as nettle or elderberry. "During my childhood, I was introduced to the therapeutic power of local plants by my mother and grandmother and joined them in collecting herbs and weeds to make home remedies. More recently, my visits to Poland have led to a rediscovery of some of these same flora spontaneously growing in and around my hometown." RB

    The Wrong Kind of Beauty, 2018 (above) is a series of works created by Bloom Collective, including Buziak, which were made during an Artist in Residence Science (AIRS) Program with the Science Division of the Department of Environment and Science (DES). The works are an embodied, experiential response to the fragility of the landscape produced by the gullying process. The harrowing and ongoing drama of the landscape, simultaneously reveals moments of delicate sculptural beauty, explored here through poetry, movement, sound and visual documentation. Biochrome images of soil featured on paper, fabrics, and time-lapse videos, were created with soil samples collected from the site, and from the Bowen River catchment. Buziak's biochromes were used to present traces of micro-organic and chemical transformations recorded over several weeks on photographic emulsions, and depict the diversity in soil types and show that even highly erodible soils are living.

    In 2022, Buziak was the inaugural Artist-in-Residence on the Binna Burra Cultural Landscape where she created her Gondwanan Biochrome series (below) with plants located at Binna Burra. Located on the Yugambeh language groups’ country, in the World Heritage Gondwana Rainforest of Australia in Woonoongoora / Lamington National Park, Binna Burra allows visitors to experience unique flora, of which ancestral lineages go back to Gondwanaland millions of years ago.

    Renata Buziak is a biochrome artist, researcher and educator working at the nexus of art and science, with a particular interest in nature. By bending the rules of traditional photography and letting photographic materials interact with organic matter, Buziak has developed a unique process of creating art that she calls the biochrome. At Binna Burra in Queensland, Buziak has developed and led a foundation year of the new Art. Nature. Science. Program as the Program Director, where she managed a group of volunteers and delivered 30 events, a book, and a podcast. Her innovative practice of collaborating with nature has led her to work as the ECO Harmony Guide with homeowners, business owners and leaders to help enhance the experience of their spaces in harmony with the natural world. Buziak’s biochromes have been displayed in solo and group exhibitions, nationally and internationally. She has received several awards for her work, and is featured in private and public collections. Buziak received her Doctor of Philosophy from Queensland College of Art (QCA), Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia (2011-2016).

    Featured Images (top to bottom): ©Renata Buziak, Habitat, 2015, is a collaborative project between photographic artists Renata Buziak and Lynette Letic, collecting visuals and verbal stories of various residential gardens of Greater Brisbane, Moreton Bay in Queensland (previously known as Pine Rivers) in order to provide historic and cultural material specific to the region; Polish Meadows, 2018-2019; The Wrong Kind of Beauty, 2018, biochrome time-lapse stills of surface soil ferrosol sample from a grazing property in the Bowen River Catchment, exhibited at Art meets Science Exhibition at the Ecosciences Precinct Boggo Road, Dutton Park Qld, Australia; Gondwanan Biochromes, 4-15 Dec 2022, Binna Burra, Queensland; Portrait of the artist by Pete Purnell.

  • Thursday, March 09, 2023 6:13 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    With Her Exhibit 'Poetic Ecologies,' Painter Cameron Davis Explores Radical Aliveness

    By Pamela Polston 

    Published March 1, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. for

    Cameron Davis' paintings simultaneously convey vastness and intimacy. Her works are loosely tethered to botany, yet the recognizable shapes of petals and leaves could be seen as spirit guides to a less understood but deeply immersive realm. Call it the web of life. Or call it, as Davis does, "poetic ecologies."

    That's the title of her entrancing solo exhibition at the Vermont Supreme Court Gallery in Montpelier; the phrase, which Davis borrowed from German biologist and writer Andreas Weber, hints at her existential engagement with nature. Her goal is not simply to observe and replicate earthly elements on canvas; rather, Davis investigates what it means to be in an empathic relationship with the Earth.

    "My paintings are fundamentally an act of sense making," her artist statement begins. "I have been circling experiences of presence in nature — including questions of what is nature — within the formal language of painting for 40 years."

    "At a perceptual level, connectivity is a form of activism." Cameron Davis

    Davis recently retired after teaching for 34 years in the University of Vermont art department and is currently on sabbatical. And she's putting in time at the easel: Many of the paintings in her exhibit are quite new.

    Most of the 17 acrylic works in the courthouse gallery are large — particularly several diptychs. "Encounter," for example, is 72 by 60 inches. Several ghostly magnolia blossoms dominate the left panel; the right contains a thicket of murkier plant shapes and colors. Gestural dabs of bright turquoise and sherbet orange, perhaps liberated petals, seem to leap from the foreground.

    In the 80-by-60-inch "Entanglements With Spare Intensities," vivid turquoise blossoms seem to dance atop a bramble of other plant patterns, while in the center of the diptych, areas of cavernous black pull the eye deeper.

    Davis' skilled application of contrasting hues and translucency gives her canvases remarkable dimensionality. Even the denser compositions have an ethereal inner glow, beckoning like a secret.

    To create literal layers on the canvas, Davis uses a mix of other techniques, including tracing projections, laying down physical plants that leave impressions when removed, and pouring and manipulating paint. Some of the paintings subtly shimmer, as if sprinkled with fairy dust. Alas, the source is less chimerical: "It's watered-down gold paint," the artist said.

    "Magnolia Memorial I"

    Davis compared the elements in her paintings to "different kinds of languages — spontaneous, intuitive, referential, photographic, impressionistic," she said. "I'm really interested in what happens mashing up these different vocabularies. How do you make those work? That's where the newness happens."

    Her artistic process creates multiple spaces — perhaps multiple realities — within a single painting. The visual experience is both unsettling and enticing, like coming upon a portal to a parallel universe. "I like that space shifting, which for me also corresponds to time shifts," Davis said. "I like that fracture, or disjunction of time and space."

    In a wide-ranging phone conversation, Davis shared ideas about coexistence with the Earth, the practice of awe and why painting is like life.

    There's a lot to unpack in your artist statement. You write that you've been "circling experiences of presence in nature..." Do you mean human presence?

    I'm exploring the subjective nature of nature, and that includes humans, but also that there is presence in liveness.

    What is your formal language in painting?

    What I'm doing is using line and color and mark, surface, space. The paintings have imagery, or subject matter, that might refer to plant patterns, but I also think the process itself reveals how nature works. Multiple layers of communication happen.

    The [painting] process is improvisational, so the references to the patterns almost could be an equivalent to laying down a melodic line and then responding to it. Contrast, saturation of color, detail, three-dimensionality — they have a kind of pace. What you notice more, or less, that's where it starts to feel musical. Those coherent moments feel emergent.

    Working musically, you lay down a track. But the tracks aren't separate; they're talking to each other. Accidents happen, relationships that you hadn't noticed. It's a corollary to how life works, how evolution works.

    "Magnolia Memorial"

    Continue reading interview here

    The exhibition is up through March 31, 2023 at the Vermont Supreme Court Gallery, more information here

  • Monday, March 06, 2023 4:12 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    March 6, 2023

    This week we recognize  Minoosh Zomorodinia Minoosh Zomorodinia, and her   almost twenty-year practice as a photographer and interdisciplinary artist.

    "Informed by my cultural background, religion, and politics, my work investigates the concept of “Self,” specifically how it relates to the environment. Inspired by nature, I borrow from rituals including walking, sometimes infusing humor. I integrate contradictory concepts into pieces that visualize struggles of the “self” by inserting my body into these moments of time and space. Recently I employed walking as a catalyst for my sculptures, which reference nomadic lifestyles, as well as colonialism. By tracking my paths using technology, I claim the ownership of the land, while representing a changed perception in the digital age and addressing transformation of memories into actual physical space absurdly." 

    click images for more info

    "Over several years I have referenced the natural elements in my work. The three channel video titled Resist: Air, Water, Earth, 2014 (above) is an ongoing project sometimes displayed as a photograph and sometimes as a video. I have been using water, air and earth as a metaphor of resistance, to demonstrate the challenges of daily life and global cultural conflicts. In the two side videos, I documented an ice cylinder using water from the San Francisco Bay, melting in different locations. In the middle screen, I use my body wearing a Chador (a traditional garment that devout Muslim women wear to cover the head and body). I hold it tightly so the wind or water don’t remove it while I'm walking backwards, entering the ocean. The video demands the viewer to watch the struggle, navigating my body with the camera, also while not paying attention to me." (19:07 mins)

    "Feelings produce different psychological states within the human being. Sensation (above) is the result from the air stimulation at different sites. I search for the self in nature while letting the wind touch the mylar to curve the shape of my body. I’m interested in the connection between my body and the landscape to express my feelings. My body merges with the landscape and the emergency blanket to integrate within the sky. Although the sense of touch is experienced through the lens it identifies resistance. The natural environment is a source of inspiration for me. Over the years, in search of the self in nature, I have attempted to create work using natural elements as material to explore connections between my body and landscape. In Sensation, for the first time the wind became an intuitive collaborator during a walk at the Djerassi Resident Artists site. I let the wind’s force define the shape of my body through an emergency blanket, a material that represents heat and protection for refugees in times of crisis. The video camera, the only witness to my actions, documents my struggles with the air that covers my entire body, making its force visible, caressing my form, emphasizing every movement and act of resistance. In attempts to merge my body with the landscape that surrounds me, the force of the wind is sometimes the winner. Sensation has been performed and documented at different sites, including the Marin Headlands and Talaghan, located in the Northeast of my hometown, Tehran."

    During the pandemic, Zomorodinia started to paint from the digital record of places that she physically experienced. In this series, Map of Walking, 2020 (above) she references archiving memory in space and time based on data saved through satellite maps. The gold leaf covers her physical movements in the place and addresses labor and the value of time and land. These paintings are from her residency at Recology AIR program, San Francisco, where she recorded her motions and time while scavenging trash from the dump to make art for her final exhibition. "I am interested in how technology forms memory through digital archiving, transforming invisible routes that exist as a memory into actual objects in abstract form. Is there any limitation?"

    In her most recent series, Made Lands, 2021 (below) Zomorodinia re-forms and reshapes borders to reference historical monuments to labor and the memories of various localities, as well as representing topography in the digital age. The abstracted natural imagery is printed on leftover material with textures from the actual location. The printed images transform our perceptions of the natural environment in the new media age. She is interested in how technology forms memory through digital archiving, transforming invisible routes that exist as a memory into actual objects in abstract form. She asks, "How will the history of a place exist in the future?"

    Minoosh Zomorodinia is an Iranian-born interdisciplinary artist who makes visible the emotional and psychological reflections of her mind's eye inspired by nature and her environment. She employs walking as a catalyst to reference the power of technology as a colonial structure while negotiating boundaries of land. Her strollings sometimes reimagine our relationships between nature, land, and technology, while addressing the transformation of memories into actual physical space absurdly. Zomorodinia has received several awards, residences, and grants including the Kala Media Fellowship Award, Headlands Center for the Arts, Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists' Residency, Djerassi Residency, Recology Artist Residency, the Alternative Exposure Award, and California Art Council Grants. She has exhibited locally and internationally at Asian Art Museum San Francisco, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco Arts Commission, Berkeley Art Center, Pori Art Museum, Nevada Museum of Art, ProARTS, Untitled Art Fair Miami and many more. Her work has been featured in the SF Chronicle, Hyperallergic, SFWeekly, KQED and many other media outlets. She earned her MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute, and holds a Masters degree in Graphic Design and BA in Photography from Azad University in Tehran. She currently lives and works in the Bay Area.

    Featured Images (top to bottom): ©Minoosh Zomorodinia, Faces of God series 2008, images primarily shot in Iran; Resist: Air, Water, Earth, 2014; Sensation III, 2016-ongoing, silver metallic print, 8 x 11 inches;Map of Walking, 2020, made during the pandemic while at Recology AIR, San Francisco, California; Made Lands, 2021, print on shaped aluminum, various sizes, exhibited at Local Language, Oakland, California; Selfie portrait by the artist.

  • Wednesday, March 01, 2023 8:54 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace March 2023 e-Newsletter for subscribers is here

  • Wednesday, March 01, 2023 5:30 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Artist during field research in desert

    Retracing the Paths of the Planet:
    Katrina Bello’s process, reflections, and intimacy with the world through drawing

    Interview by Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Katrina Bello’s artwork begins far outside the walls of her studio. She revisits physical, intellectual, and emotional landscapes through a touching example of experiential fieldwork. Combined with informed philosophical questions and insights and an in-depth understanding of the physical world and its textures, she uses drawing as an intermediary between herself and this world. Everything from the physicality of her process to her choice of scale and subject are intentional and steeped in perception. She is a fantastic example of an artist whose work is an interwoven extension of her very sense of being.

    From “Drawing as a Noun, Drawing as a Verb”, Modeka Art, Phillipines, 2021

    Katrina, in your work, you create hyper-realistic surveys of the natural world, often of water, tree bark, and rocks. What is it about your process that helps create this intimate connection between yourself and your subject?  

    I think the textures in my work result from my studio process that has a heavy involvement with the sense of touch. Part of my work process is hiking and photographing for references for the drawings; during this activity I am constantly touching the things I encounter so I can observe them closely and see the details of the tree bark, the rocks, the water, and the desert canyon walls.

    The role that touch plays in my work was something I did not examine until it was pointed out to me by the graduate school director at MICA. Her name is Zlata Baum and she recommended I read a particular text by Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa titled “Eyes of The Skin: Architecture and The Senses”. The text shed light on what I felt I was doing. In the text, Pallasmaa mentions touch as the “mother of the senses.” In the book’s introduction, he wrote: “Touch is the sensory mode that integrates our experience of the world with ourselves…My body is truly the navel of my world, not in the sense of the viewing point of the central perspective, but as the very locus of reference, memory, imagination and integration.”

    More than simply finding references for my work, it is my process of knowing and having a deeper connection to the place that makes it unique. In this intimate process I become aware of the textures of things. Even in my studio process, while drawing, touch also plays a large role. For example, my drawings are made with soft pastels that I crush into a powder, which I then apply on the paper with my hands rubbing the powder vigorously with my palms on the papers surface and using my fingertips to make details.   

    From “40,000 Tons”, Caldwell University, New Jersey, 2023

    More than simply finding references for my work, it is my process of knowing and having a deeper connection to the place that makes it unique.

    Your process makes sense to me and how I experience your work. When I look at your work, it brings me an incredible stillness; a similar feeling that I have when, lost deep in thought. I find myself sitting peacefully as time flows freely past me. There has also been a lot of discussion in my circles about the histories and identities that materials and objects themselves hold. What do you consider the relationship between material, identity, and experience?

    I am very grateful when my work evokes a sense of stillness in someone. Stillness is not a quality that I intentionally work to create, but because the work takes a great amount of time to execute. The process of making the small details, especially the large drawings, often necessitates that I am sitting and standing still for hours. Perhaps these are somehow embedded and revealed in the work. I find the relationship between material, identity and experience as something that is forged, informed, and understood through lived experience and knowledge. One of the questions that had occupied my thoughts in my studio practice was “how do I know what I know” and how my work is forged by what I know. A few years ago, I came across a text that lists the main sources of knowledge: memory, senses, rational thought, testimony of others, and revelation.

    Time is also an idea that occupies my thoughts when I am working, so perhaps that also permeates the work as well. I think of the contradiction between the human experience of time through minutes and years, while rocks and mountains experience time in epochs and eons. And when I observe the tiny lines that look like drawings in the cracks and fissures in tree bark and rocks, I feel a sense of wonder for the length of time during which such lines developed. This stands in contradiction to the speed through which I make a line with my pencil on the paper. I am confounded by the seeming stillness of these linear patterns found in nature, which are signs of an ongoing yet barely perceptible movement and transformation that is taking place. Therefore, when I am in my studio making a line drawing that takes months to almost a whole year to execute, I feel like I am retracing or reenacting the slow geologic time that these lines in nature occurred.  

    Artist in studio during artist residency at Brush Creek Founation, Saratoga, Wyoming, 2018

    …when I am in my studio making a line drawing that takes months to almost a whole year to execute, I feel like I am retracing or reenacting the slow geologic time that these lines in nature occurred.  

    And, those lines are compositionally fascinating as well! Though your work is based in intensive observation, your compositions sit at the intersection of realism and abstraction. The pieces I have seen, interface and permeate between topics of artistic materialness, and the actual physical patterns of the world. Is there a correlation for you between abstract reflection and a literal understanding of the landscapes we inhabit?

    I think of abstraction in the planning and composition of my drawings. At the same time, when I am executing the drawings, I am constantly thinking of realism when it comes to the details of the rocks, tree bark, and textures of the landscapes that these subjects are part of. My engagement with nature often entails up-close observation. And when I do so, I often find what appears like miniature terrains on the surfaces of rocks and tree bark. I am fascinated by how they seem alien, otherworldly, and remote.

    I am more interested in the desire to trace the lines of these otherworldly forms, and draw them as they appear, rather than invest in the desire to reinvent them.  This “otherness” in things that is manifested in their surfaces and patterns is an idea that I became interested in after I came across a 2007 lecture on the works by Gilles Deleuze of philosopher Manuel de Landa at the European Graduate School. In the lecture, de Landa spoke of Deleuze’s studies on nonhuman expressivity. He gave examples such as crystals, rock striations and geological events like volcanic explosions and tectonic plate movements that dramatically change our landscape in very slow times scales; these are all part of the idea that expressivity is not solely possessed by humans, and that even inorganic things have the capacity to express their identity through their forms. De Landa further explains that for Deleuze, if we focus only on things that are human and the creations by humans, we lose sense of our “otherness” which refers to the nonhuman.

    These ideas about nonhuman expressivity and otherness were such significant revelations for me. It made me reexamine how I perceive the natural world and how to represent it in my work, especially in my drawings. It taught me to “re-see” forms in nature as marks, paths, and imprints of purposeful processes that lead to their construction.  It led me to reconsider working with realism, literal representations and understandings of the landscapes we inhabit. 

    Salix, 2017, charcoal and pastel on paper, 60 x 92 inches

    … even inorganic things have the capacity to express their identity through their forms.

    I love how considerate you are of perception relating to your subject. And you express this very intentionally through your formatting. You are very considerate when choosing the scale of your artworks, presenting either monumental 5 ft x 8ft or delicate and intimate 5 in x 8 in pieces. How did you decide to choose specifically these scales? What is it about these two extremes that you want to emphasize to your audience?  

    I am interested in these extremes in scale as reflections on the sense of scale that is implied in the subjects of the works themselves. Because my subjects are nature, the environment, migration, and my memories and experiences of landscapes that I have physically encountered. I often feel that there’s an overwhelming sense of boundlessness in these subjects- that they are ungraspable; especially when it comes to memory. Just as a desert or body of water can feel vast and enormous, so do the scale of environmental issues that we are currently dealing with such as global warming, ocean pollution, deforestation, and more.

     At the same time, I also make the opposite: very small things that are intended to communicate intimacy and fragility. When I make very small drawings based on oceans and landscapes that can fit in the palm of one’s hands. It is intended to communicate the sense that it is fragile, precious and something to care for. Therefore, I count on size and scale to insist on themes that have an urgency (such as the ones relating to the environment) within the subject of the work. 

    Hawak/Hold: Passamaquoddy Bay, 2019, still image from video animation

    I often feel that there’s an overwhelming sense of boundlessness in these subjects that they are ungraspable; especially when it comes to memory.

    You mentioned a combination of literal physical reflection and personal experience. From what I understand, the topics you choose to depict are related to your own migration story. What was it about your own migration that inspired this reflective and structured practice?

    I feel that my experience of the landscapes here in the United States is through the lens or spirit of exploration, with a little bit of longing for the remembered landscapes of my native country. The more I live here, in my adopted country, the more it seems like my memories of my migration experience are embedded in the work. When I migrated to the United States, it was unexpected, and I was not prepared to leave my native country. I had an intensely strong connection to the landscapes of the city of my birth, which is located in the southern part of the Philippines. The tropical coastal city I was born in lies at the foot of the largest volcano in the country that is presumably extinct, and the city has a beach with black sand made from eroded volcanic material. My siblings and I spent our youth mostly exploring the tropical outdoors, especially this black sand beach and a sea that is darkened by that sand. 

    Immensity (Smudge), 2019, charcoal and pastel on paper, 60 x 37 inches

    As my memories of this landscape begin to fade as I get older and live longer here in the United States, I notice that my work begins to have a sense of that landscape more and more; my drawing works became larger, more detailed, and with color resembling the color of the dark sand. Perhaps this development of my work is attributed to longing and nostalgia.

    At the same time, the work is made with an intense interest and fascination with the landscapes of my adopted country. I am especially interested in exploring tree species that are so different from those in the Philippines, and mountains and deserts that I have never seen until coming into the United States.

    My landscape exploration here in the United States started in New Jersey. This was the second state I lived in here; New York was where I first lived when I migrated. I was first interested in the trees near where I lived and often photographed and observed them through the years. From there, I started becoming interested in rocks, trees, ocean waters, and mountains in places I traveled to as a tourist and as an artist-in-residence. 

    My drawing works became larger, more detailed, and with color resembling the color of the dark sand (of my birth landscape). Perhaps this development of my work is attributed to longing and nostalgia.

    I can see a parallel to your process with charcoal dust in your hands, the volcanic soil, new landscapes, and the subject of your new work. Your recent exhibition “40,000 Tons” at the Mueller Gallery at Caldwell University, expanded your earthbound topics to astrological ones. “40,000 Tons” is the amount of stardust that falls to earth each year, correct? What has inspired you to focus on stardust and abiogenesis (the origin of evolutionary life on Earth)?

    Correct. According to a 2015 feature in National Geographic, that is the volume of cosmic dust that falls on Earth annually from space. My interest in looking into space subjects emerged during the lockdown during the early part of the pandemic in 2020 when I was unable to travel to the Nevada desert where I intended to photograph and observe rocks for a series of drawings and videos. Before the pandemic, the objects and landscapes referenced for my work were things and places I had physically visited, observed, and photographed repeatedly through several years. But when the pandemic started, I had to find ways to make up for my inability to travel.

    Then, in May 2020, the world was captivated by the first launch of NASA astronauts into space by SpaceX.  During those days around the launch, it felt as if the whole world stood still and was looking upwards to the skies and outside of Earth. It was for me a realization of how the entirety of my studio practice was focused on mostly looking into the natural world that is limited to Earth, even though I was thinking of vastness.

     It was for me the beginning of thinking of the exponentially rich, expansive and vast resource of matter, time and astronomical events outside of Earth. And when I began to work with this new resource, my research reached a point of learning about the formation of how the planet, and everything in it, even the thoughts and emotions we feel, emerged from the matter that comes from space. I was fixated with the volume of this matter - this 40,000 tons of cosmic material that falls annually. So, when I am working with drawings using soft pastel powder and rubbing these pigments with my hands on a five by eight foot expanse of paper, sometimes I feel like I am retracing the path that cosmic dust is traveling on the planet.

    Sometimes I feel like I am retracing the path that the cosmic dust is traveling on the planet. 

    Thank you, Katrina, for a truly perceptive interview. You have given me a lot to think about and broadened my perspective on the world. 

    40,000 Tons has been extend at the Mueller Gallery until March 7 here

  • Tuesday, February 28, 2023 9:26 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Pam Longobardi amid a giant heap of fishing gear that she and volunteers from the Hawaii Wildlife Fund collected in 2008. David Rothstein, CC BY-ND

    The Conversation, published February 14, 2023

    I am obsessed with plastic objects. I harvest them from the ocean for the stories they hold and to mitigate their ability to harm. Each object has the potential to be a message from the sea – a poem, a cipher, a metaphor, a warning.

    My work collecting and photographing ocean plastic and turning it into art began with an epiphany in 2005, on a far-flung beach at the southern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii. At the edge of a black lava beach pounded by surf, I encountered multitudes upon multitudes of plastic objects that the angry ocean was vomiting onto the rocky shore.

    I could see that somehow, impossibly, humans had permeated the ocean with plastic waste. Its alien presence was so enormous that it had reached this most isolated point of land in the immense Pacific Ocean. I felt I was witness to an unspeakable crime against nature, and needed to document it and bring back evidence.

    I began cleaning the beach, hauling away weathered and misshapen plastic debris – known and unknown objects, hidden parts of a world of things I had never seen before, and enormous whalelike colored entanglements of nets and ropes.

    Continue reading here

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