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

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

ecoartspace, LLC

Mailing address: PO Box 5211 Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502
  • Friday, November 18, 2022 10:04 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Paul Jackson, "In the First Times," 2022. Image courtesy of The Doyle.

    GALLERY ROUNDS: Spirit of the Land

    The Doyle, Artillery magazine, Los Angeles

    by Jennie E. Park | Nov 16, 2022

    “Spirit of the Land: Artists Honor Avi Kwa Ame” fortifies the work of activists—including the show’s curators, Checko Salgado, Kim Garrison Means and Mikayla Whitmore—who catalyzed the introduction of a congressional bill this year that would designate Avi Kwa Ame (Mojave for “Spirit Mountain”) and its surrounding 443,671 acres of public lands in Southern Nevada a national monument. Without such designation the region, considered sacred by over a dozen local tribes, could be irreversibly harmed by tourists, mining and industrial “green” (wind and solar) energy activities; with the designation, tribes and other local communities would be meaningfully consulted in land use proposals.

    Through allied modes of storytelling, this evolving traveling exhibition reflects the coalition strategy of the advocacy efforts it supports. Participating storytellers include artists, scientists, tribal elders, members of increasingly varied communities and nature itself; the voices and works highlighted in a given iteration reflect its venue and local community. Having germinated earlier this year at community spaces in Nevada, the show reaches a national register through The Doyle, where visitors are invited to recognize that imperiled land and ecosystems around Avi Kwa Ame (forty miles of which border Southern California) parallel similarly imperiled regions nationwide.

    Continue reading here

  • Wednesday, November 16, 2022 8:07 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    This Artist Uses Trees and Maps to Imagine a Colorado with No Drought

    Meredith Nemirov makes topography beautiful

    published by Orion Magazine, Autumn 2022

    MEREDITH NEMIROV HAS SPENT THE last 30 years walking in the forests of southwest Colorado.

    While mainly an observational painter, Meredith’s experience of spending time drawing and painting among aspen trees led her to intense visual explorations of naturally occurring phenomena, reflected in her series Blowdown, which abstractly depicts the mycorrhizal fungi growing beneath the forest floor. Most recently, her series Rivers Feed the Trees uses old topographical maps of Colorado, where she paints the color blue into all the canyons, arroyos, and dry washes to create an abundance of rivers and streams.

    Meredith plays with perspective. She transforms topographic maps–aerial views of our landscape–into both the grounds the trees are planted in and the sky that frames them as they grow vertically. We love what this suggests about the different relationships and connections found in nature,” says a curator from the gallery in Telluride that represents her work.

    This visual representation is meant to be akin to an Indigenous rain dance ceremony, a weather-modification ritual that attempts to invoke rain.

    Through these works the artist hopes to bring attention to processes occurring in the natural world.

    Read full article here

  • Wednesday, November 16, 2022 7:54 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    ‘Gold Rush’ Documents the Social and Ecological Impact of Mining on Indigenous Lands

    Stephanie Garon uses mine core samples to guide the creation of sculpture, video, sound and photography.

    Published by BmoreArt, November 14, 2022

    by Caroline Cliona Boyle

    Thirty minutes from the Canadian border, an organic farm in Pembroke, Maine, harvests blueberries, cranberries, and mushrooms from its orchards. The Smithereen Farm cultivates the land, but it also works to replenish its acres to preserve natural ecosystems. Underneath this biodiverse landscape, the cellar of the Smithereen farmhouse stores 20,000 core samples, cylindrical mineral extractions used by miners to assess the presence of precious metals. 

    “I will never, ever forget the first time I went down there,” recounts artist Stephanie Garon. “It was flickering lights, a deep stairwell, [and] leaking, seeping water coming in.” The core samples stored at Smithereen Farm date as far back as the 19th century, when Pembroke became a prominent mining center. Located two miles away from the farmhouse, a mine known to locals as “Big Hill” represents both the remnants, and active pursuits, of prospectors’ attempts to acquire natural resources.

    Garon is an environmental artist whose paintings, sculptures, and installations explore humanity’s complex relationship with nature. Her new solo exhibition, Gold Rush, uses materials previously extracted from Big Hill to examine the ecological, cultural, and social implications of mining land that Indigenous tribes, including the Passamaquoddy, have inhabited for more than 12,000 years

    Throughout her career, Garon has experimented with organic materials, often treading the line between art and environmental science. “Being immersed in nature, and being surrounded by metal, were my earliest forms of language,” she says over a Zoom preview tour of the exhibition. The artist is a fellow of Hamiltonian Artists, a nonprofit that advocates for accessibility within the contemporary art community. The organization operates out of Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington, DC where Gold Rush is displayed.

    Continue reading here

  • Monday, November 14, 2022 11:00 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    November 14, 2022

    This week we recognize   Nancy Azara, and her fifty plus year practice as an ecofeminist artist working primarily with trees.

    "I make collages, prints, banners, and carved and painted sculptures that record a journey of ideas and memories around the unseen and the unknown, reflecting on time and mortality through facets of my personal history. I juxtapose real tree limbs and vines with arboreal imagery—including renderings of witch hazel and rhubarb leaves—using them as stand-ins for my own presence, and as expressions of the dogged persistence of life." click images for more info

    "For several decades I have been making sculpture, carving pieces of wood that are logs or milled lumber, ranging in size from 1 foot to 12 feet or more. The work is often gilded with metal leaf, painted with tempera, encaustic, and oils, stained and sometimes burned or bleached. These formal properties are the psychic outer layer. Within the psychic inner layer is the voice of my heart and what resides within it. The wood, the paint, and layers that make up the sculpture record a journey of memory, images, and ideas." Nancy Azara, Brooklyn Museum, Feminist Art Base

    "Conflating natural form and religious iconography, Azara’s aesthetic language is at once universal, highly personal, and deeply resonant. Gleaning from the simplicity of nature’s gifts, she creates experiential encounters for her viewers while expressing her feminist ethos through symbols of creativity, wishes, and prayers—or votives. Through her work, she illuminates a deep sense of what connects us all, our inescapable awareness that we are nature." Excerpt from feature essay by Patricia Watts for the monograph, Votives, published in 2022.

     "When I think about the things that have formed my sense of self as an artist, I always return to those lessons from my grandfather’s garden, which delighted me and heightened my sense of observation, awakened my curiosity and made me comfortable with solitude. It opened my eyes to an appreciation of colors and shapes, and brought wonder at its different cycles. Because there were no children my age in the neighborhood, I was often left alone there. Still vivid in my mind is the explosion of colors in the spring, the change of colors in the fall, the brilliance of the sun, the softness of the moon, the shadows cast by the trees, the rhythm and patterns of spacing and thinning, shaping and pruning, of watching things change, of seeing birds and plants mature and die. I remember observing this garden, its everyday activities and the activities of the adults who worked in it. My grandfather and his gardener used such love and caring. As I watched their passion I learned how to bring the same kind of attention that I now bring to my art." Nancy Azara, Veteran Feminists of America

    Nancy Azara is an artist and feminist educator best known for her large-scale wood sculptures and mixed media collages. Nancy developed, and continues to work in, a distinct style of sculpture working with found wood, carved, ornamented and mounted. Instinctive chip carving peels off an outer layer of wood, reaching for an essentialized raw experience of the body, of the limbs, exposing flesh and blood. This work explores life cycles, utilizing the metaphor of tree for personhood. Egg tempera, often in reds and pinks, and aluminum, palladium, gold gilding recover these exposed layers, exploring folkloric stories of women’s roles, goddess imagery, ancient symbols, mystic spiritual traditions and affirmation of female self. Nancy continues to make and exhibit work from her studios in Tribeca and Woodstock. She is constantly challenging herself and her community in quarterly intergenerational feminist dialogues, (RE)PRESENT, an outgrowth of NYFAI, The New York Feminist Art Institute, a school she co-founded in 1979. Here, she formalized automatic journal drawing for a class she taught  called Visual Diaries, Consciousness Raising Workshop, as a way to access the unconscious. This method quickly became popular as a feminist consciousness-raising technique and was  embraced in the nascent feminist art community in New York and with groups like Redstockings.

    Featured Images (top to bottom): ©Nancy Azara, Hand/Palm, 2018, carved and painted wood with aluminum leaf, 18 x 17 x 5 inches, Photo: Jude Broughan; The Twins, 2010, carved and painted wood with aluminum leaf, 12 x 3 inches each, Photo: Jude Broughan; Leaf Altar for Anunzia 1913-2004, 2007, carved and painted wood with aluminum leaf, 80 x 53 x 17 inches; Circle with Seven Hands, 1996, carved and painted wood with gold leaf, 5 feet x 40 inches in diameter; Red Twins, 2016, etching plate 13 x 16 inches, paper 21.5 x 22.25 inches, Photo: Courtesy VanDeb Editions; (below) portrait of the artist inside her work Spirit House of the Mother, 1994, carved and painted wood with gold leaf, 11 x 6 x 7 inches, photographed by Jamie McEwen.


    Nancy Azara: Votives, Sculptures, monograph published 2022 (download here)

    click on image to purchase

  • Tuesday, November 01, 2022 1:00 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Fluid Dynamics: Connecting the Drops at Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery

    by Kaya Turan

    From July 21st to October 29th, visitors to Stony Brook University’s Zuccaire Gallery were immersed in a space of aquatic motion: swirling whirlpools, falling rain, rising tides, melting ice, and flowing currents. “Connecting the Drops: The Power of Water,” an exhibition curated by the gallery’s director Karen Levitov, explores the kinetic capacities of water. The show presented the work of seven female artists who consider the role of water in climate crisis and environmental justice. “Connecting the Drops” emphasized the dynamic qualities of water, which are both constructive and destructive. The exhibition engaged with the ecological specificity of Long Island and Stony Brook, which occupies the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the aboriginal territory of the Setalcott and Shinnecock peoples. “Connecting the Drops” stressed the need for connective movements, for the productive and beautiful harnessing of fluid dynamics.     

    Jaanika Peerna, Ice Memory,  2021-ongoing

    Several works employed water itself as artistic medium. Jaanika Peerna’s Ice Memory, a large-scale drawing reaching the gallery’s ceiling, archives water’s transformative, but vanishing, properties. Each week, Peerna returned to the gallery to melt ice onto the drawing and gradually alter its composition. In Clepsydra for Carbon, Mary Mattingly similar offers water as a method of time-measurement, with a delicately constructed arrangement of tubes, plants, and flowing water which counts carbon absorption.

    Mary Mattingly, Clepsydra for Carbon, 2022

    Sculptural works by Erin Genia and Courtney M. Leonard explore the foundational, but increasingly strained entanglement of humans and water. Genia’s Earthling is a life-sized figure constructed in part with architectural model turf, reminding the visitor of the ecological constitution of their own corporeality. Painted and sculpted in part directly on the gallery wall, Beach: Logbook 22 | Cull (Leonard) uses wooden pallets and oyster shells to reference the history of the Shinnecock bay’s docks. These works critique Western culture’s estrangement from the natural world, examining the ways in which human bodies and cultures move and are moved by water. Similar themes are developed in Allicia Grullón’s multichannel video work 7 Stories About Water, which examines relations of cultural and individual memory to water.

    Betsy Damon, The Primary Movement of Water is the Vortex, 2018

    All is not (yet) lost: the exhibition also explored the generative and re-generative motions of water. Betsy Damon’s series of Sumi ink drawings, Principles of Water, examine the vortical movements of whirlpools and eddies, emphasizing the creative and productive nature of these kinetic patterns. In swirling, inky compositions, Damon posits turbulence as a kind of genesis. The restorative capacities of and for water are also foregrounded in Go H.O.M.E Bimini (Lillian Ball), an interactive video game which occupied a darkened corner in the rear of the gallery space. Using the strategy game Go, the game asks the player to envision and enact the restoration of mangrove wetlands in the Bahamas. The exhibition accordingly asked visitors to consider the ways in which we might foster and return water’s restorative powers.

    In “Connecting the Drops: The Power of Water,” water emerged as a fundamentally kinetic force. Thoroughly entangled with human life, aquatic processes make, and unmake, our world. The exhibition warned that how we relate to the flows and fluxes of water matters crucially in the time of anthropogenic climate crisis. “Connecting the Drops” both mourned and hoped, searching for rhythms that might allow for generative movement to flourish on our planet. 

    Kaya Turan is a PhD student in Art History & Criticism at Stony Brook University. His research focuses on contemporary experimental film and cinematic spectatorship in relation to digital media theory and ecology. His recent work engages with process philosophy and philosophy of science, as well as theories of “elemental” media, in order to examine relations between cinematic and ecological kinetics.

    Connecting the Drops: The Power of Water at the Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery, Stony Brook University (July 21 - October 29, 2022)

    Watch Zuccaire Gallery panel discussion on Indigenous Art and Environmental Issues, including Courtney M. Leonard in Connecting the Drops, October 27, 2022.

  • Tuesday, November 01, 2022 9:27 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Fibers of Place: Michele Brody reconstructs local plants into visual reflections

    Interview by: Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Integrating site-specific process-oriented paper making, Michele Brody addresses questions of localness, the natural world, and plant indigenousness. At her recent exhibition at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, presented in partnership with ecoartspace, Michele’s work reflects on both biodiversity and its loss. As a papermaker, her topic is the very fiber of her art and study whether in Vermont or in the Bronx. Her international experience has created a portfolio and knowledge base that truly embodies the idea of the “GLocal”. In our interview she discusses her experience in Vermont, her inspirations, and her process. 

    Entrance detail, handmade paper with local flora

    Hi Michele! What first struck me about your body of work is that you have worked creating site-specific pieces based on the local flora and fauna all over the world. How has the St. Michael’s College, Vermont area inspired you in a unique way?

    When I was invited to exhibit at St. Michael’s college, the Director Brian Collier invited me to come up for a preview visit. He especially wanted to show me the School’s Nature area. A property that for years had been rented out to a farmer. Once the school regained control of the land again, they decided to let it naturally go back to being a Riparian Forest.  When I went it was still in the early stages of re-growing native species such as Goldenrod, Milkweed and in the distance Cotton wood trees. I was especially excited to see Cattails growing along a natural marsh that the local beavers helped to create so that the land could go back to being a native wetland. I was especially inspired by the narrow swath of a walkway cut into the tall meadow throughout the nature area. I wanted to re-create this experience as one entered the gallery. The feeling of walking through the tall grass meadow sprouting up on either side of you.

    Exhibition entrance, handmade paper with local flora

    Native plants are so central to your work, and we are living in a time when climate change is ever-present.  What aspects of changing climate and resilience measures did you become aware of during your time in Vermont?

    Ironically, it was not until I started driving again after not owning a car for 20 years that I became more aware of the abundance of plant life along the roads and highways. While diving up to Vermont I was most attuned to looking for Cattails and Milkweed which are both Native to the area, but less and less available due to be crowded out by the non-native species of Phragmites and Mug wort. But once I entered Vermont, I was pleasantly surprised to see more of the native species growing along the highways. I believe this is mainly due to Vermont being less developed than the rest of the Northeast. Also, while on site at Saint Michael’s it was exciting to learn about the “Nature area” project to return farmland to being a natural wetland. The beavers were especially happy about this, and the fruits of their labors could certainly be seen, as well as the return of native species taking back the land.

    Your knowledge and observations about the nature around you are so intimate. What have these plants taught you about the world that people often overlook?

    The main thing I have learned that no matter what we as humans try to do to control and manage Nature, especially with the development of monocultures and agriculture, Nature will in the end find its own way to survive. It may not be the same as before, such as having non-native species take over the land where natives once thrive. But over time, nature will find its own balance and become once again more diverse and in abundance.

    Exhibition entrance, handmade paper with local flora

    Since we are talking about balance, I noticed that several pieces use both positive and negative space and imprinting to leave reliefs of local flora. What is the intention you have behind integrating some flora and imprinting others? And what role do non-native or Indigenous plants play?

    Much of my current work is inspired by Rachel Carson’s seminal book “Silent Spring.” The title for this series that integrates positive and negative imprints of local flora is "Nature in Absentia." The goal of "Nature in Absentia" is to illustrate how the current loss of ecological biodiversity within the natural environment due to over development, pollution and climate change is in stark contrast to the ever expanding cultural and racial diversity throughout the world. The impetus is to deconstruct and redefine the traditional practice of categorizing plants and animals as either native, non-native or invasive within a particular ecosystem in comparison to the ever-growing diversity of human populations through immigration, and to see how being sensitive to cultivating a balance between plant species can be mirrored in humans.

    In this effort to deconstruct and redefine traditional categorizations, you are using site-specific fibers. How has your medium and process inspired you in your work?

    The show in Vermont is titled after a recent series of handmade paper works called Papers of Place. For this series I have been producing handmade paper collages with pulp processed from natural seasonal detritus gathered from specific locations related to my practice and home. The series started when I was working as an Artist in Residence in 2018 at the Wave Hill Cultural Center and Garden in the Riverdale section of The Bronx. The work is very processed oriented involving the choice of location and plants, watching the seasons, knowing when best to harvest and gather materials, drying out and pressing the plants, then soaking the plants in water to loosen the fibers (which can get rather stinky in a one-bedroom apartment/studio), then I boil the fibers, pulverize the fibers in a beater until finally I can then get down to actually making the paper.

    St. Michael’s Nature Area/Riparian Forest, Vermont

    I believe it! And admire your dedication despite your space limitations. As a result, many of your works present organic forms which are often textural and allow the viewer to see the elements you have added. What is your visual philosophy regarding viewership and these textures?

    The essence of my practice thrives on the interaction with new communities by exploring what it means to establish roots within an unfamiliar environment. With each new location I conduct a careful investigative method that involves the gathering of regional materials, native plants, local stories, and historic research. I employ this process to create site-generated works of art that illuminate the unobserved in our day-to-day surroundings and the challenges facing our environment. I am intrigued with the process of creating a controlled environment where the work organically develops and changes over time. Building from this foundation, my work represents the daily flux and naturally occurring entropy surrounding us, while exploring how memory and time simultaneously erode and enhance the interpretations of our experiences.

    And lastly, what can art do that other forms of reflection and observation miss?

    Art has a way of communicating beyond language. Some can be heavy hitting and political, but the most successful artworks are the ones that subtly change one’s point of view, revealing things that may not have been seen before. Providing the viewer with a new outlook on the world, and hopefully a better appreciation for the beauty found in all things, in particular the day-to-day environment we take for granted.

    Thank you, Michele! It has been fantastic to interview you and very inspiring to think of the literal integration of a subject in an artwork. 

    Papers of Place at McCarthy Art Gallery, St. Michael’s College, Vermont (closed October 29, 2022)

  • Tuesday, November 01, 2022 7:59 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Cynthia H. Veloric and Diane Burko in front of Summer Heat 1,2; 2020. Mixed media on canvas, 84” x 162” overall.

    Risky Beauty: Aesthetics and Climate Change: Not a Minute Too Soon

    By Arden Kass

    Risky Beauty: Aesthetics and Climate Change (closed October 28, 2022), curated by Cynthia Haveson Veloric, PhD, at Philadelphia’s Main Line Art Center, was an informative and affecting show. Showcasing six eco-artists, it presented a thoughtfully panoramic overview of life in the Anthropocene era from a diversity of artistic perspectives, both in a stylistic and literal sense. Yet distinctive as these works are, they share a common and disturbing subtext.

    Every art history course identifies the conflicting forces of Eros and Thanatos, Love and Death, as the struggle at the heart of most of the world’s great masterpieces in every artform. Similarly, the works in this show embody the (curator’s) view that beauty and devastation can share space, that the eye and brain are capable of processing both inputs simultaneously. What to make of that information is our problem — and responsibility. But each artist here undeniably pairs beauty with a message about the bottomless risk we take in continuing to distance our emotions and actions from the reality of climate change.

    Stacy Levy, Missing Waters, video, Painting the historic Norman Kill Creek flowing into the Bushwick Inlet, Brooklyn, NY,  2018;on right,Flushing Bay Kayak and Canoe Launch, Marina Road Corona, New York, 2020. Chalk and water on pavement, 120 yards x 15 yards.

    Stacy Levy, for example, “collaborates with the force of water” to illustrate the pathways in urban areas of underground streams that have been paved over but originally provided a watershed for storm overflow. Covering the asphalt with chalk paintings that evoke almost aboriginal patterns of waves and the rhythms of water, Levy signals how, as storms intensify, water will find a way to disperse, often by forcefully re-claiming its own former pathways.

    Deirdre Murphy scatters delicate, seemingly whimsical marks like handfuls of confetti across brightly colored, flat wooden disks representing Earth. Based on the flight routes taken by Arctic Terns fleeing their homes in search of more hospitable nesting grounds and interspersed with tiny dots that trace the spread of pathogens in our increasingly unstable atmosphere, the patterns chart the course of environmental disruption, chillingly underscored by the artist’s narrative of scientific research in which she participated.  

    Visitor contemplates Deirdre Murphy’s Invisible Currents Celestial Maps, 2022. Mixed media print on Japanese rice paper, 24” diameter.

    Hiro Sakaguchi expresses his “concerns for the wellbeing of this planet that is our home” in a candy-colored, childlike palette that belies the dire import of his imagery. Beneath their appealing surfaces, Sakaguchi’s paintings detail the rapacious devastation of our world in comics-inflected line drawings; from the approach of machines of war glimpsed through a scrim of crocuses, to the sheer chaos unleashed from outer space to ocean by human incursions into every dimension of the galaxy. They are both beguiling and terrifying.

    Working in an aesthetic that references “the sensory experience of being within the forest” Amie Potsic creates lush images of leaf canopies photographed or printed onto draped fabric. Her installation conjured a visual and sense memory that placed us in this sacred space essential to our survival, while silently raising the question of what will exist when that curtain is ripped away – when development, logging, or deadly wildfires, turn these magical environments into nothing more tangible than a memory.

    Tim Portlock composes digitized versions of imaginary urban landscapes to question the definitions of wilderness and civilization; what represents progress, what portends dystopia? And above all, what has become of the natural landscapes these human-made vistas are replacing?

    From left to right Hiro Sakaguchi, Deirdre Murphy, Amie Potsic, curator Cynthia H. Veloric, Stacy Levy, Diane Burko surrounded by Potsic’s Paradise, 2019. Archival pigment print on silk (rolled onto bolts).

    One of the staunchest and most irrefutable artistic voices on climate change, Diane Burko has devoted herself since 2006 to “critical thinking... about the impact humans are having on the environment.” In monumental and/or multi-panel images of rigorously designed, masterfully painted landscapes, often documented over time and supported by the inclusion of maps and charts, Burko does not traffic in metaphor or imagined scenarios, but in scientific fact. If there is a fantastical, allegorical dimension to her work, it is in the explosive contrast between the beauty captured in her images, and the unimaginable outcome of how it is being altered in our lifetimes…and how that plays out as we walk away from the magnificent vista portrayed with meta-accuracy before us.

    Yes, here on the East Coast, it is easier to be lulled into the sense that our tree-shaded, sun-dappled forests are endlessly resilient, or to embrace the hopeful notion that “something” might help us prevent catastrophe. This show illuminated the global “nature” of our situation, and its urgency. Risky Beauty, and more exhibitions like it, are both timely and essential. 

    Catalogue here

    Arden Kass writes for stage and film, as well as interviews, cultural essays, and personal narratives.

  • Tuesday, November 01, 2022 7:13 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace November 2022 e-Newsletter for subscribers is here

  • Monday, October 31, 2022 8:58 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    October 31, 2022

    This week we recognize Steven Siegel, and his forty plus year practice focused on the new geology leading to the Anthropocene.

    Siegel's early interest in geology was stimulated after reading Basin and Range by John McPhee. Sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts, he traveled to Scotland in 1983, and visited the site where geologist Dr. James Hutton made his discoveries. The rock formations in Scotland were the result of the geologic processes at work over millions of years. The experience had resonated with Siegel and is reflected in his early work, notably in his newspaper sculptures, which he first attempted for the Snug Harbor Sculpture Festival on Staten Island, New York in 1990. Staten Island is home to Freshkills Park, once the world’s largest landfill, with tons of refuse buried under mounds of earth. The location prompted Siegel to note that humans were creating a “new geology” from waste, and inspired the titles of his first sculptures of this kind: New Geology #1 (1990, below) and New Geology #2 (1992). click images for more info 


    "There is a dutiful, yet delightful dimension to Siegel’s work. A great task produces a very simple thing. Yet this may be the only clear and dependable equation. Other connections and conclusions are variable and elusive. Generically characterized as big, spare forms of recycled newspapers, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, shredded rubber, or other jetsam, there is a serious content to this seemingly unaffected work. Remarkable and robust physical evidence and material accumulations convey a tension of imminent vulnerability and gradual dissolution. There is a puzzling experience of dissonant beauty in these ungainly objects made of disposable, if not unsightly materials. Often mimicking natural forms and processes, the conspicuously artificial work “fits” its environment in a plain, natural manner." – Patricia C. Phillips, art historian and critic, Sculpture Magazine, 2003 

    As a young artist working with sculptor Michael Singer in the seventies, Steven traveled to installation sites from Texas to Germany. “At the time, [Singer] was probably the best artist in the world working with natural materials and natural settings. I got a sense of what it meant to be around people doing ambitious things in ambitious places.excerpt from Siegel's installation diary

    "For an artist, or scientist, or any kind of human being really, sometimes the unfailing need to ask the same questions over and over again can become a kind of answer in itself. Where Siegel's work exists, the most salient question perhaps is one of the relationship of a person, caught like a bug in a tiny mortal moment, to the old primal earth. But the nature of the question is what defines the artwork in the end. In Siegel's work, the subtle transmission of meaning through inquiry may be in the fact that the question is "how do the natural forces of time and decay and accumulation act on earthly matter?" And in this formulation, humanity is not separate from the category of earthly matter, but part of its awesome whole. The real inspiration comes when someone grasps that deep time is not a threat to one's personal significance, but a vast enfoldment in which one's little light husk becomes part of something venerable and profound." Karin Bolender, artist-researcher, Dutchess Magazine, 2000

    Steven Siegel is nationally and internationally recognized visual artist who has been making large-scale sculptures since the 1970s. He has created public artworks, private commissions, sited sculptures and installations that fall into three broad categories: time-bound, outdoor newspaper structures; organic, linear works primarily made with shredded rubber; and large cubes or spheres of bound waste materials, often crushed plastic or aluminum containers.Though his more recent works have tended towards large wall pieces–mural versions of his sculptures. Siegel has been interviewed by John K. Grande for Sculpture magazine in 2010 and his work written about by Patricia C. Phillips for Sculpture magazine in 2003. He has created commissioned works in cities and universities throughout the U.S. and Europe, in Australia, and Kazakhstan and Korea, and at the DeCordova Museum, Arte Sella Sculpture Park (Italy), Grounds for Sculpture, and Art Omi. Siegel lives and works in Tivoli in upstate New York.

    Featured Images (top to bottom): ©Steven Siegel,Oak, 2004, newspaper, Gong-Ju, Korea; New Geology #1, 1990, newspaper, soil, plants, at Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Staten Island, New York; Round, 1995, plastic jugs, Connemara Nature Conservancy, Plano, Texas; Scale, 2002, newspaper, Abington Arts Center, Jenkinstown, Pennsylvania; Like a Buoy, Like a Barrel, 2019, plastic, rubber, Providence, Rhode Island (destroyed by vandalism, fire, in 2020); below, portrait of the artist with his monumental work titled Biography (2008-2013).

  • Monday, October 24, 2022 9:00 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Phillips, P. (2015). Artistic Practices and Ecoaesthetics in Post-sustainable Worlds. In C. Crouch, N. Kaye, & J. Crouch (Eds.), An introduction to sustainability and aesthetics: The arts and design for the environment (pp. 55-68). Boca Raton, Florida: Brown Walker Press.

    The concept of Plastic Words and the book The Tyranny of Modular Language by Uwe Pörksen, published in 1995, was brought up this weekend, and our member Perdita Phillips, in Australia, shared her paper below regarding the word sustainability. This concept is the focus on her contribution to the ecoartspace Earthkeepers Handbook, soon to be released.

    "The concept of sustainability, its discourse and societal application has been subject to pointed critique, including claims that the term has become an empty rhetorical vessel, is liable to greenwashing or that critical reflection is required on the political and philosophical underpinnings of sustainability and sustainable development (Holden 2010; Phillips 2007). Part of the critical framing around an aesthetics of sustainability has already been explored by artists and thinkers such as Maja and Reuben Fowkes (2012) and Sacha Kagan (2011). Sustainability’s broad nature mirrors the complexity of environmentalism and allows for many different aesthetic approaches. It asks of us to decrease our consumption and also to take a transdisciplinary perspective (Kagan, 2010). However a significant trend in twenty-first century relations with the natural world has been a ‘darkening’ in the tone of debate and mobilisation of apocalyptic metaphors. Climate denial by some in society is mirrored by an underlying zeitgeist of despair and guilt in areas of the environmental movement (Anderson, 2010). I have argued elsewhere that this has left us open to ‘zombie environmentalism’ (Phillips, 2012b). Is it possible to stir from this apparent stalemate to a state of flourishing, by moving on from disaster? Morton (2012) argues for a re-examination of sadness and Soper (2008) reconfigures austerity into alternative hedonism. TJ Demos (2013) discusses the significance of a political ecology to artists working towards new formulations of eco-aesthetics. A key strategy for arts practice is to relinquish “the privileged position of its autonomous and exceptionalist positioning” at the same time as maintaining a ‘countervisuality’, or ability to see things and see them differently (Mizroeff, 2013). In my own work I see eco-aesthetics as a broad set of tendencies that will take us into new futures. Elsewhere I have outlined eight sensibilities in artworks that are more adaptive at dealing with uncertainty and imperfection, risk and opportunity (Phillips, 2012a). Working through Lauren Berlant’s ideas of cruel optimism (Berlant, 2011) as a way of escaping this sense of environmental procrastination, I’ve been considering how an artwork can both embody and encourage resilience in an unruly world, something that is still positive at the same time as it ‘stays with the trouble’ (Haraway, 2013). In a recent project about Little Penguins in Sydney I’ve been grappling with applying some sense of anticipatory readiness or “a cultivated, patient, sensory attentiveness to nonhuman forces” (Bennett, 2010, p. xiv). Through this practice-based example, this paper invites an aesthetics of action in the face of the inevitable uncertainties inherent in an ecological worldview."

    Read full paper, here

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