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

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

ecoartspace, LLC

Mailing address: PO Box 5211 Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502
  • Wednesday, November 01, 2023 8:15 AM | Anonymous

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

    Carol Padberg's fully integrated art and educational practice

    Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Confluence MFA Online Openhouse, info here.

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

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

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

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

    The Artist Working to Reclaim the LA River’s Water

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

    Matt Stromberg September 12, 2023

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

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

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

    Continue reading on Hyperallergic here

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

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

    Groundswell: Women of Land Art

    Sue Spaid

    Published October 1 for AEQAI

    Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas

    On view through January 7, 2024

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

    Continue reading on AEQAI here

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


    October 2, 2023

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

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

     click images for more info

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    October 2023 e-Newsletter for subscribers is here

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

    Aerial image of land containing mineral assets

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

    Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What is This? Artwork for Ants?

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

    Rhea Nayyar September 27, 2023 on Hyperallergic

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

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

    Read the full article on Hyperallergic here

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

    To Remember Amid Dismemberment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    PK: Have specific forests been identified?

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

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

    Continue reading interview at Orion Magazine, here


  • Monday, September 18, 2023 7:54 AM | Anonymous


    September 18, 2023

    This week we recognize  Nancy Macko Nancy Macko, and her thirty plus year photography practice focused on bees and nature's cycle of life/death/rebirth.

    "For many years, I have been fascinated, almost obsessed, with the desire to understand what happened in our world to cause the almost complete extinction of all matriarchal cultures in which women held equal and powerful roles in their societies. Again and again, I have read and researched the time period in which this supposedly occurred. In fact my obsession inspired me to travel to Romania in 1996 on my sabbatical to explore the archeological sites and remaining artifacts of the early (3500 BC) Cucuteni culture in hopes that I would be able to find some evidence that revealed more about these cultures and that could help me understand why they disappeared or were subsumed into the patriarchal society in which we now live."

     click images for more info

    "My early work with bee imagery revealed the features of a female monarchy within the hive and its apparent similarities to contemporary hierarchies. But further investigations also revealed the nature of the relationships among the worker bees themselves. They are responsible for all aspects of the hive from economics to politics to manufacturing. Although all workers, their relationships are egalitarian and interdependent. Different texts informed my thought-process at this time. In particular Savina Teubal’s Hagar, The Egyptian: The Story of the Desert Matriarch because she refers to priestesses and holy women. By shifting my perspective of the female monarchy and the worker bees, I re-created a scenario that more resembled the Goddess and her priestesses. This shift also affected the emphasis in my work from that of using bees as the metaphor for nature and exploring the relationships between nature, art, technology and science to focusing more intently on the notion of a bee priestess and creating a mythology that imagined her culture and her world by interpreting the rituals, customs and traditions that Western women still practice today."

    "In 2009, my focus shifted to examining the flora the bees draw nourishment from and so carefully attend through the process of pollination. Working directly with the camera and a macro lens, I created a body of work I call Intimate Spaces. This purely photographic work takes the viewer into a space of light, air and abstracted textures. The images are sensuous and seductive, poignant and tender, sometimes abject and unsettling--challenging the viewer to experience an image that is not easily defined by familiar landmarks or visual cues. In this work I am looking at beauty, aging, intimacy and fragility--characteristics that are expressed by subjects in nature. This work led to documenting the life cycle of the vegetables I raised in my garden, the honeybees that pollinated them and bee-attracting flora using a macro lens in order to reveal the less apparent, less obvious features concealed within these beautiful specimens. Capturing them from bud to bloom to seed—the manifestations of their life cycles. Hopefully my efforts assist in the recognition of natural beauty and the need to preserve the lives of the bees, which are so important to our ecology and food supply."

    For The Fragile Bee, 2015 - ongoing (below), Macko combines painting, printmaking, digital media, photography, video, and installation elements to create a unique visual language. This combination of media allows her to examine and respond to issues related to eco-feminism and nature, as well as to explore her interest in mathematics, and prime numbers, in which she attempts to make the implicit connections between nature and technology explicit. The series also explores the artist’s love of plants, and her images investigate the botany world as seen through the honeybee’s eyes. She photographs botanical specimens that the honeybee pollinates and visually records nature's exquisite beauty, fragility, and often, cruelty. The recent decline in the honeybee population and, more broadly, the idea of life and death in nature are prevalent themes in her work. Macko is deeply concerned with the disappearance of honeybees and through her art seeks to raise awareness regarding the vulnerability of their ecosystem.

    "Decompositions, 2021 (below), is a realization and a concrescence of all that has come before. Previous explorations also addressed issues of memory loss, dementia and cognitive decline–changes I witnessed as they affected my aging mother’s mental health. My interest in 'end of life' has clearly informed my photography. The work presents death and decomposition not as a hard stop, but as a change of state. Decompositions is the process by which vegetable matter breaks down to make its nutrients available for other life forms. The compost in these photographs is both metaphor and reality, representing change and transformation in ways that are both beautiful and surprising." 

    "The photographs in Nancy Macko’s "Decompositions" series present amorphous forms floating in a watery ether. Light streaks through the compositions, muted slightly by a translucent film that gives the whole composition the soft patina of an old master painting... hovering between abstraction and representation. Momentarily arresting this process with her camera, Macko presents a vision of time and life that is cyclical and fluid...presenting compositions that exist in a delicious state of indeterminacy." --Eleanor Heartney, 2021.

    Nancy Macko                 draws upon images of the honeybee society to explore the relationships between art, science, technology and ancient matriarchal cultures. She combines elements of printmaking, digital media, photography, video, and installation to create a unique visual language that allows her to examine and respond to issues related to eco-feminism, nature, and the importance of ancient matriarchal cultures. For ten years, Macko documented the life cycle of the vegetables she raised in her garden, the honeybees that pollinated them and bee-attracting flora using a macro lens in order to reveal the less apparent, less obvious features concealed within these beautiful specimens. She captured them from bud to bloom to seed--all manifestations of the life cycle. This work resulted in The Fragile Bee, first exhibited at the Museum of Art and History in Southern California in 2015 and which has been traveling since 2018 through 2023 to over 18 venues nationally. Originally from New York, Macko received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin and her graduate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley with a concentration in painting and printmaking. Her work is in numerous public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Mount Holyoke College Museum of Art, New York Public Library, North Dakota Museum of Art, Portland Art Museum and the RISD Museum of Art.

    Featured images (top to bottom): ©Nancy Macko, Hexagons, 1991-1994; Lore of the Bee Priestess, 2004, digital video, 13:43 mins; Intimate Spaces,IS05: Decammys (DECAM 13), 2011, archival digital print, 17 x 26 inches (Edition 5); Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata), 2018, archival digital print mounted on white sintra and faced with Plexiglas® 40.5 x 40.5 inches; Decompositions, Odalisque, 2020, archival digital print, 42 X 65 inches ;portrait of the artist by  Mary MacNaughton, 2021.

  • Monday, September 11, 2023 9:15 AM | Anonymous


    September 11, 2023

    This week we recognize     Patricia Olynyk, and her thirty-plus year practice at the intersections of art, science, architecture and technology.

    KleptoGenic Chamber, 2022 - work in progress (above) is a multi-sensory installation that perceptually steals the viewer’s understanding of the natural world and reflective reality. This chamber prompts the viewer to question reality and how we live and dwell in this world. In the KleptoGenic Chamber, the worlds of biology, art and architecture converge to become a room that redefines scale, materiality and gravity.

     click images for more info

    Sensing Terrains, 2012 (above) is a multi-media, site-specific installation based on cenesthesia, or the relationship between consciousness and bodily sensation. In response to a technology-mediated world increasingly desensitized to physical sensation, viewers are called upon to expand their awareness of the worlds they inhabit, whether those worlds are their own bodies or the spaces that surround them. Scanning electron micrographs of histological samples combine a variety of specimens – human and non-human, transgenic and otherwise – with photographs of images from special Japanese gardens that have been composed and constructed to "tickle the senses." The images impose a reorientation of our own sense of scale as the viewer navigates a new gargantuan landscape through the abstract projection of their own body into an alien space.

    Dark Skies, 2012 (above) is a multi-media, multi-sensory installation, which translates un-see-able phenomena into perceptible range, using mesmerizing visuals and sound to make tangible the penetrating effects of nightfall across multiple scales of being. It is a work that questions the future of the deep integration of life, light, and darkness which has developed over millennia. Growing out of my concern with light pollution and the recognition that night skies are becoming fatally obscured, Dark Skies captures the tension of a key cinematic moment: sundown. It reveals two distinct time frames on the 24-hour clock simultaneously, a situation that can only exist by way of technology. Dark Skies consists of a two-channel video projection on a large-scale dimensional wall: one side reveals a crepuscular sky and the other, a dark sky with smoky trails. The installation also features a soundscape, drawn primarily from field recordings of vespertine creatures, captured at twilight in the Rocky Mountains during high summer. The sound design in Dark Skies serves two functions: the first sonically articulates the ambiguous space between micro and macro environments, echoing those depicted in video elements, and the second adds an interactive/immersive quality to the work. The sound elements are projected directionally into the exhibition space, allowing viewers to migrate between these two soundtracks, essentially moving between macro and micro realms.

    The Mutable Archive, 2014 (above) is a multi-layered series of photographs and performance videos that speak to renewed nationalistic obsessions with Othering and difference. A unique artistic strategy of this project involves the interrogation of the mechanics of storytelling and who speaks for those who are lost, particularly in the absence of verifiable archival material. Each photograph from the 19th century collection of Viennese anatomist, Josef Hyrtl portrays a single specimen and post-mortem skull tattoo with an accompanying archive card, which details only partial information about each subject. Collaborators representing a diverse array of disciplinary fields—artists, historians, a medical ethicist, a philosopher, an opera singer, a hip-hop artist, and a spiritual medium—are invited to write and then perform speculative narratives about subjects of their choosing from the collection. Each script and recorded monologue, a 4K cinematic video, reveals a myriad set of issues related to race, ethnicity, gender, and class, while demonstrating the fictitious foundations of the human taxonomy itself.

    OCULUS, 2020 (below) is a complex digital sculpture depicting a colossal abstracted drosophila eye—replete with distorted compound faceted surfaces—inspired in part by a series of scanning electron micrographs produced in a transgenic lab several years ago. The title recalls the circular opening at the apex of a cupola while the form alludes to a surveillance device, or drone hovering in mid-air. Oculus invites the viewer to ponder the impact of the gargantuan and the miniature on our perception of bodily scale. This work explores those sensory modalities that play a dominant role in spatial perception, which spark the affect of scale on several fronts. Consequently, Oculus strategically triggers an affective encounter with the colossally represented miniscule, offering a fantastic voyage that navigates spatial, temporal, and phenomenal worlds.

    Patricia Olynyk                  works in photography, print, video, and installation while investigating science and technology-related themes and the ways in which social systems and institutional structures shape our understanding of our place in the world. Working across disciplines to develop “third culture” projects, she often collaborates with scientists, humanists, programmers, and engineers. Her multimedia environments frequently call upon the viewer to expand their awareness of the worlds they inhabit—whether those worlds are their own bodies or the spaces that surround them. Olynyk was appointed inaugural director of the unified Graduate School of Art and Florence and Frank Bush Professor of Art in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in 2007. She currently holds a courtesy appointment in the University’s School of Medicine and fellowships in The Institute for Public Health and Living Earth Collaborative, both interdisciplinary hubs that facilitate research across a wide range of fields. She was also appointed in Medical Humanities, Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies, and Performing Arts. Olynyk co-chairs the Leonardo/ISAST NY LASER Talks program in New York, which promotes cross-disciplinary exchange between artists, scientists, humanists, and scholars. She received her MFA with Distinction from the California College of the Arts and spent four years as a Monbusho Scholar and a Tokyu Foundation Research Scholar in Japan at the Osaka University of Foreign Studies and Kyoto Seika University. Recent exhibitions include Cyfest 15: Vulnerability, HayArt Cultural Center, Yerevan, Armenia; and Douro Biennial,     Côa Museum, Vila Nova de Roz, Portugal.

    Images: ©Patricia Olynyk, Kleptogenic Chamber, 2023- in progress, model by Sung Ho Kim, Axi:Ome; Sensing Terrains, 2012, multimedia installation and sound collaboration with Kathryn Stine and Jukka Nurmela, and  solo exhibition at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.; Dark Skies, 2012, solo exhibition, Sci Center Gallery, UCLA, design modeling by Sung Ho Kim, Axi:Ome, with sound engineering by Christopher Ottinger     The Mutable Archive, 2014, series of nineteen digital pigment prints on archival paper, 80 x 120 inches and 4K video;  Oculus, 2020, digital modeling by Nathaniel Elberfeld and Alex Waller, Metron Designworks, and Sung Ho Kim, Axi:Ome; Portrait of Olynyk by Stan Strembecki.


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