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 info@ecoartspace.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

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

ecoartspace, LLC

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


    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    July 4, 2022

    This week we recognize Gloria Feman Orenstein.

    Orenstein is a feminist art critic, discoverer of the women of Surrealism, and a scholar of ecofeminism in the arts. Her book Reweaving the World (1990) is considered a seminal ecofeminist text which has played a crucial role in the development of U.S. ecofeminism as a political position. Essays include leading ecofeminist scholars, poets, novelists, scientists, ecological activists, and spiritual teachers (Starhawk, Vananda Shiva), who envision a restoration of harmony in a global environment damaged by a devaluation of nature and women. Many of the essays were first presented at the conference "Ecofeminism: culture, nature and theory," held at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, in March 1987. click image below


    Reweaving the World, co-edited by Orenstein, posits an ecofeminist movement that brings together “the environmental, feminist, and women’s spirituality movements out of a shared concern for the well-being of the Earth and all forms of life that our Earth supports.” In the book, Orenstein described “’ecofeminist arts’ function [as] ceremonially to connect us with the two powerful worlds from which the Enlightenment severed us—nature and the spirit world.” She suggested such arts often invoked the symbol of the Great Mother (Goddess) to emphasize three levels of creation “imaged as female outside patriarchy: cosmic creation, procreation, and artistic creation.”

    While a graduate student at New York University, Orenstein wrote her dissertation on Surrealism in France and Latin America after WWII.

    "Someone suggested I write to Leonora, and we corresponded almost daily. Nothing had been written about her in the early 70's so she sent me reproductions of her visual art. I was astounded by the beauty of her art and decided to include her in my dissertation. I would have to go to Mexico to speak with her in person, but had no money for travel. I decided to purchase a Mexican dress, hoping the vibes would enter my brain and enlighten me about the meaning of her cryptic, but absolutely incredible imagery. One day, just as I had asked the cosmos to send me an answer, the telephone rang and a most distinctive English accent spoke: "This is Leonora Carrington. I have just arrived in New York and I would like to meet you."

    "We met that night and remained dear friends for the rest of her life (Carrington died in 2011). In New York I took her to a meeting of OWL (Older Women's Liberation) and we met with Betty Friedan, Jacqui Ceballos and Irma Diamond. Leonora wanted to start a branch of NOW in Mexico City. She was sailing for France in a few days and wanted me to go with her. Thanks to my brother I was able to make the trip by plane."

    "The time I spent with Leonora opened my eyes to the Celtic roots of her literary and artistic vision. I was able to spend six weeks as her guest in Mexico the following summer. It was a most extraordinary entrée to her world. She saw the traces of the ancestors at the archeological sites we visited. It was the dream trip of a lifetime." click images above and below

    In 1987, following the Ecofeminism conference, Orenstein was invited by a Shaman of Samiland (Lapland, N. Norway), Ellen Marit Gaup Dunfjeld, to be a student with her in Alta, Norway, an experience that continued intermittently for almost five years.

    "The shaman was exquisitely beautiful in her native costume with jangling fringes. She began to sing a yoik, a chant that calls in the spirits of deceased ancestors. As she sang, we were literally transported to the ancient times of humanity's origins. During this meeting the shaman informed me I had to make a trip to Samiland because "The Great Spirit has called you, Gloria and you have to come to meet the Great Spirit."

    Orenstein then writes an essay "Toward an ecofeminist ethic of Shamanism and the sacred," included in the book Ecofeminism and the Sacred, published in 1993. In 2022, she's invited to participate in the virtual Meetings on Art for

    the 59th Venice Biennale to explore the interconnections between Leonora Carrington and Sami Noaidis (shamans), proposing that Indigenous Sami epistemology might serve as a generative alternative to Western anthrocentrism. click image below

    Gloria Feman Orenstein received a B.A. in Romance Languages and Literature from Brandeis University in 1959 and an M.A. in Slavic Languages and Literature from Radcliffe Graduate School of Harvard University in 1961. She studied in abroad in 1957 and 1958 completing courses at both the Sorbonne, University of Paris and Ecole du Louvre. Orenstein began her teaching career in 1963, when she accepted a position teaching High school French in Lexington, MA. She returned to New York University to continue her education, completing a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature in 1971. From 1975 to 1981 she was faculty of Rutgers University where she also served as the chair of the Women's Studies Program from 1976 to 1978. She was hired as Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California in 1981 where she taught until she retired. She is a professor emerita of the University of Southern California. She received a Lifetime Achievement award from the Women's Caucus for Art in February 2018 in Los Angeles, California.


    Featured Images: All images are snapshots taken from the award-winning short film Gloria's Call directed by Cheri Gaulke. 


    Click image of Orenstein below to watch Gloria's Call, which premiered in Los Angeles, October 2018. The film was born in 2016 during a presentation by Orenstein at the Southern California Women's Caucus for Art (SCWCA), Surrealist Tea. (16:45 mins)


  • Friday, July 01, 2022 9:54 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


     The ecoartspace July 2022 e-Newsletter is here


    Note: As of today there's a separate newsletter for members only that will not public, visible on our website.

  • Friday, July 01, 2022 6:46 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    (Thy Neighbor’s Fruit, shelves, jars of jam, audio and video, 2010- now, https://vimeo.com/51706961)

    Active Maps Between the Trees and Me:
    Katerie Gladdys Interview

    by Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Katerie Gladdys is an alchemist of disciplines dedicated to promoting awareness of community and environmental impacts. Many of her topics are everyday objects with big histories like how your orange juice arrived on your table that morning and the circumstances that have resulted from its cultivation. But furthermore, she uses academic research to inform interactive data visualizations that are incredibly relatable like a jar of jam made from local fruit trees or through the promotion of edible weed gardens. I asked Gladdys about her depiction methods, process and how she sees the world.

    Hi Katerie, so much of your work is intersectional; you bring together topics of both environment and social factors approaching fruit and local environment using both a research and creative lens. For example, in work like “Thy Neighbor’s Fruit” you gather unused fruits from neighboring trees and prepare them as jams while mapping the resources. How do you decide on how to depict your findings and integrate your community?

    My art practice oscillates between local food systems and managed forests, often punctuated by investigations into the hyper local of my backyard and personal encounters with “nature.” Mapping is a methodology that allows me to vigilantly attend to the natural world at multiple and simultaneous scales. My mission and challenge as an artist to not just aestheticize data but to create meaningful visualizations connected to the data, but also to conversations about art.

    For instance, in Thy Neighbor’s Fruit, ideas about mass production, overlooked resources and waste comingle with serialization, the multiple, color theory and even the idea of a mosaic. The installation has audio and/or video where the people who contributed the fruit for the jam discuss their relationship to their trees, food preservation and family stories about growing food. The jars of jam and the stories feel familiar even comforting, but the presentation and context perhaps invites further thought about gendered labor and food systems. One audience engagement that I find particularly gratifying with this piece was an elderly woman who surreptitiously picked up the jars to see if the jam had set. Or how the jam often enters exchange and gift economies as food post-exhibition. 


    (Eccentric Grids: Mapping the Managed Forest: Enumeration and Density, small format video, custom electronics, sawdust, 2017-ongoing)

    You mention mapping, which you often use as a way of articulating your research. And your presentations of what maps can be are varied and integrative. What work have you made that speak especially to the goal of “meaningful visualizations connected to the data?”

    In Eccentric Grids: Mapping the Managed Forest: Enumeration and Density, I researched the tree density of managed commercial pine plantations harvesting for both pulp for paper products and board lumber with the natural spacing of the “trunk print” of old growth longleaf pine forests. I laid out the trunk prints of pulp, board and old growth trees in the scaled grids in which they are planted in a managed pine plantation or occur “naturally” in pre-settlement forests maintained by indigenous people. Each trunk print is a stencil of sawdust, an ephemeral by-product of chopping down a tree, that marks the trace of each tree. The audience is allowed to walk amongst the trunk prints and I often expect and plan for the piece to be obliterated during the time span of the exhibition. But often, most of the stencils remain intact suggesting much care and mindfulness of those walking through the visualization of the forest.


    (Seed Cabinet, repurposed card catalog, custom electronics, video, and seeds, 28” x 18” x 38”, 2018-ongoing, https://vimeo.com/224731846 )

    Wonderful. It is incredible how many elements you integrate into your process, and I wonder if this has to do with your academic research. For example, you often integrate your research into your artistic development like in the Agent Orangerie analysis of both consumer and production patterns in orange juice manufacturing and the resulting work, "Thy Neighbor's Fruit". In what ways does your academic work intersect and inform your artistic process?

    I am very fortunate to teach at a land grant research institution. My research practice is very experiential yet informed by academic research. How people “do science” in an institutional setting becomes a space of play and potential critique. If one uses the metaphor of a recipe to think about scientific method and data, a research-based art practice uses the data and methods to redirect and comment upon the larger social context created by academic research. I am lucky to be able to go and have conversations with colleagues whose life’s work is thinking about food security or managed forests or to be able to go and look at seeds from endangered native plants growing in a lab. I get to see a lot of stuff and talk with interesting people.


    (Seed Cabinet, repurposed card catalog, custom electronics, video, and seeds, 28” x 18” x 38”, 2018-ongoing, https://vimeo.com/224731846 )

    What a unique and fruitful community you have found! No wonder this theme of community is very present in what you have exhibited. As both environmental research, presentation, and interactive design, many of your works engage the public through both awareness and activation (ex. Forest art collab, seed cabinet). What is your mission in creating this novel intersection and have audience members engaged after the initial viewing?

    I endeavor to make art that awakens the curiosity in my viewers: transforming spectators into participants yearning to explore their surrounding environments. For example, in Seed Cabinet, opening each drawer of repurposed card catalog triggers the playing of videos and audio narratives that depict the community’s living intertwined relationships with these plants. Seed Cabinet collides the ordered worlds of science and libraries with the messiness of soil and plants, sowing the seeds for dialog. This piece invites the audience to engage with stories that describe personal and cultural relationships with the vegetal world told by those whose lives are profoundly intertwined with plants and agriculture. Seed Cabinet operates on multiple levels—sculptural object, performative installation, and participates in hands-on educational and community events, international conferences and symposiums. Interacting with both seeds and card catalogs is sensual and tactile, an active experience and a call to dialog and action to manifest further engagement with food systems in the form of learning about alternative food sources and cultivating gardens. 


    (Seed Cabinet, repurposed card catalog, custom electronics, video, and seeds, 28” x 18” x 38”, 2018-ongoing, https://vimeo.com/224731846 )

    Now you’re talking my language! I was particularly interest in your “Green Lining?” and “Sanctuary” work that take a strong stance in favor of “weeds” as gardens themselves, especially the edible ones! What would an ideal inhabited landscape look to you?

    An ideal inhabited landscape is one that sustains a diversity of species including humans and recognizes the sentience of those other-than-humans. That being said I live in what used to be rural north central Florida, a rapidly changing landscape, where the timber forests and agricultural lands that succeeded pre-settlement long leaf pine ecosystems and coastal wetlands, vanish daily replaced at an alarming rate by homogeneous suburban sprawl. I have difficulty processing and literally finding my way in the midst of the weekly destruction of green space resulting from exponential development due to the increasing population of Florida and inland “development” perhaps expecting salinization and rising sea levels. I am left to focus on the ruderal ecologies of what persists and supplants what came before. Weeds are resilient, often invasive plants that may function as potential food sources in a changing climate. I am working on another iteration of Seed Cabinet that invites the audience to re-examine ubiquitous ecosystems as speculative nutrition in a warming world and to question the notion, "What is a weed?" Many “weeds” local to north central Florida are heritage vegetables in diaspora and indigenous communities and are connected to stories of survival and immigration. 

    Thank you, Katerie, for a wonderful interview.


    Katerie Gladdys is a transdisciplinary artist who thinks about place, marginalized landscapes, sustainability, mapping, consumption, food, agriculture, and disability. She creates installations, interactive, sculpture, video, and relational performances. She is currently an associate professor in Art and Technology in the School of Art and Art History at the University of Florida. Recent partners in collaboration include Working Food, a non-for-profit that educates people about sustainability and local food, University of Florida School of Forest Resource and Conservation, and the Gainesville community. Prior to joining the faculty at University of Florida, Gladdys was the multimedia education coordinator at University of Illinois at Springfield. She served as an educator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art traveling to rural counties with the Artmobile teaching K-12 workshops as well as creating exhibition programming. She received her MFA in New Media from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BA in Art and Design from the University of Chicago. She also has an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages with a specialization in pragmatics and discourse from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. layoftheland.net



  • Friday, July 01, 2022 3:40 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Substance of Venom (2021-22) 4K single channel video. 9:34 (presented in a video installation constructed of applewood and silk above) Photo by: Lisa Wigoda

    Submitted by the artist

    Substance of Venom by Cherie Sampson is included in the exhibition The Quality of Being Fleeting at 826 Currents gallery in Santa Fe through September 11, 2022.

    Description:

    The gardens, prairies, orchard, woodlands in the home environment where the artist, Cherie Sampson lives set the mise-en-scène for a series of self-administered honeybee “stinging rituals” over a period of several months in 2021. A team of Australian researchers recently discovered that the active substance in honeybee venom, melittin, has demonstrated a capacity to induce cell death in two types of aggressive breast cancers: triple-negative and HER2.* As a survivor of TNBC, Sampson engaged this symbolic act, calling attention to the need for more natural or other forms of cancer therapy that may one day offer alternatives to toxic and often ineffectual treatments – some that have not changed for decades. Footage of the foraging patterns of honeybees and other native pollinators of the Midwest that illustrate the diverse life in healthy ecosystems are juxtaposed with images of the stinging rites. (In the video installation, the imagery is projected onto silk scrims that hang in a sculptural installation constructed of applewood from the organic orchard in NE Missouri, USA, operated by Sampson’s husband, Dan Kelly.)

    Credits: Camera: Cherie Sampson & Radim Schreiber Musical elements: Charles Gran All other audio + video production & post-production: Cherie Sampson


    Voice-Over for 9-minute Substance of Venom video

    (May-June 2022)

    “Honeybee venom and melittin suppress growth factor receptor activation in HER2-enriched and triple-negative breast cancer.”  NPJ – Nature Partner Journals. *

    I will help you to feel magically better…
    The placebo said to me.
    As your escort, it is my duty and pleasure.

    I shall please.
    I   shall   please.
    I      shall      please…

    “Despite decades of study, the molecular mechanisms and selectivity of the biomolecular components of honeybee (Apis mellifera) venom as anticancer agents remain largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that honeybee venom and its major component melittin potently induce cell death, particularly in the aggressive triple-negative and HER2-enriched breast cancer subtypes…”

    I      shall      please…
    I          shall          please…

    “Our work unveils a molecular mechanism underpinning the anticancer selectivity of melittin, and outlines treatment strategies to target aggressive breast cancers…”

    I        shall        please.


    April 22: The first sting in the orchard.
    Caught a couple honeybees that got away and was stung on my hand while trying.
    Administered on left forearm so I could hold her with the insect tweezers with my right hand.

    All night I felt and dreamt of the pain and initiation of melittin.

    {music & sound effects}

    “The European honeybee (Apis mellifera) has been the source of a number of products used medicinally by humans, such as honey, propolis, and venom for thousands of years1. However, the molecular determinants of the anticancer activity of bee venom remain poorly understood, particularly in breast cancer…”

    June 6: Keep eyes on mustards, white and yellow clover, milkweed, holly hock…the milkweed still not quite in bloom. And the growing ashy sunflower in the field. Milkweed and sunflower emerging from the ash of a controlled burn.

    {sounds of buzzing bees, fire crackling…}

    Got a bee from the asparagus for the second sting. I placed her on the upper left chest – above the former tumor. She spun round and round before finally releasing the venom sac.

    Afterward, she rested on my body for a long time, preening, preparing to die.
    My chest rose and fell with breath. Life.

    {music}

    Observing the girls in the white clover now.
    Also saw a beautiful swallow tail butterfly there.

    Arranged to do the sting in the evening with deep golden light.
    Very shallow depth of field.

    She escaped…

    {high-pitched sound effect}

    June 23: Saw the first bee in the milkweed today – some are staring to bloom!
    Others are still in tight clusters.

    July second. Incredible diversity of pollinators in the milkweed, including bumblebees and a gorgeous hummingbird moth. Many honeybees were active. I was able to track a single bee for a long time because there is so much to gather on a single flowerhead.

    Observed many pollinators in the vivid butterfly milkweed on “goddess hill.”
    Also, a monarch caterpillar.

    Did two stings on my right shoulder – where I have had some unexplainable pain over the past few months. The first one did not go deep. In the second sting, the venom sack still administered venom even after the bee detached.

    Or so I think.

    {sound effects from slow-motion video, summer insects}

    July 26: Many pollinators in the Cup Plants now, including honeybees and the jeweled metallic green sweat bees.

    The clover is drying up but managed to capture one there into a little jam jar.

    Administered the sting in the upper right breast. Not too intense and the venom sac did not released into my flesh.

    August 22: Abundant pollinators in the blooming chives right outside the back door. Not since the cup plants in July have I seen so many honeybees in one place!
    They move quickly there as the flowers are so tiny.

    Keeping my eyes on the zinnias…are the girls interested?

    Stings become less severe as the season progresses.

    As your escort, it is my duty and pleasure…

    To kill any rogue TNBC cells that may be wandering around in my bloodstream?

    August 24.
    Dan has observed that the bees are now in the upper garden in the cover crop Milpa field with buckwheat, sunflower, brassicas, squashes…

    Mil-pa
    translates as -
    cultivated field.

    One in every three bites of food comes from pollination by honeybees.

    Caught a bee in the chives for later sting.

    September 2: Did four stings today. The first time with so many in one day. Arms and upper back. On the shoulder.

    {abstract music & insect sounds}

    Pollinators are really busy in the milpa field.
    Goldenrods are just starting to open…

    The honeybees stay for many minutes on a single sunflower head…

    Continuing to watch milpa field, sunflowers, cucumbers, zinnias, ash sunflower.

    …gathering bright pollen.

    Continuing to watch milpa field, sunflowers, cucumbers, zinnias, ash sunflower.
    Continuing to watch milpa field, sunflowers, cucumbers, zinnias, ash sunflower.

    Been seeing a lot of pollinators in the zinnias on sunny mid-days. Things are getting sparse, and our zinnia garden may be one of the last foraging places. They are also in the sprouting broccoli flowers in the garden.
    Continuing to watch milpa field, sunflowers, cucumbers, zinnias, ash sunflower.

    Been watching the asters for weeks looking for the apis mellifera and never see them.
    Finally saw a couple today there about 12:30 PM.

    November 8: Just did a sting on my left foot. This very well may the last sting from a captured bee outdoors this season.

    It is getting rather cold in coming days…

    Honeybees forage in the last phase of their life.
    Their time of death is impending but hastened by my capture.

    Provocation.

    Am I entirely comfortable with my role in her ever-so-slightly?
    Earlier death?

    Thank you.
     
    Thank you, honey. Honeybee.

    Your substance of venom.
    Placebo?

    Golden one. Giver of life,
    beauty,
    food,
    intoxication.

    Medicine.

    {musical outro}



    *All quotes about melittin research and TNBC:
    Duffy, C., Sorolla, A., Wang, E. et al. Honeybee venom and melittin suppress growth factor receptor activation in HER2-enriched and triple-negative breast cancer. npj Precis. Onc. 4, 24 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41698-020-00129-0




  • Friday, July 01, 2022 9:23 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    Bay Area Eco Artists: Where Art Meets Nature by Leora Lutz

    This past spring has been a busy time for several ecoartspace members who live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Through intimate interactions with the land and with each other, they are making poignant and pivotal statements to help further the dialog about ecological trauma.

    Alicia Escott was one of four artists selected from over 130 applicants for the Annual Artists Life Cycle juried exhibition titled “This Land: Art/Act Local," now on view at the David Brower Center in Berkeley. The prompt for the exhibition is “What does it mean to be connected to the land that holds us and life on this planet, along with the imperative to protect it?” Her work is serious and poetic, but within that dynamic is a sense of gentle levity, a light acknowledgement of the magnitude and absurdity of humans’ relationships with objects, waste and living things.

    The artist's contribution to the show titled “Various Metabolic Rifts and Domestic Interiors: An ongoing series of collaborations with wildflower seeds” includes several “living sculptures,” eight videos, and photographs. Her work with seeds, compost, Oak Ecologies and Victorian Gold Rush architecture among other things “are always ways of getting back to the core issues of recognizing interconnectivity, that what the earth wants is so often what we want (that we need to stop fighting ourselves), and creating spaces to sit with the grief of living within mass extinction and climate crisis....”

    Escott's sculptures are comprised of post-industrial/pre-consumer waste plastic bags that are full of dirt with flora sprouting through their “heads.” They lean against walls with a sense of personhood, slumped and drunk on life. In one video, brown water seeps from the tied end of a bag, as if it’s oozing its waste onto the floor. She acknowledges that there’s a fecal innuendo with these bags, yet, from this compost shoots beauty in delicate wild flowers and willowy grasses. The plants reach for light, and bloom when ready. They persevere.



    Alongside these compact slow growing life forms are accompanying videos that document a person’s interaction with the plants. A woman’s arm is in frame, slowly touching a soft tan grassy frond; a tender green branch; or a bright pink gentle bloom. As the arm moves away, the plant bends in response, as if to return the gesture, or to beckon for more.

    Escott also participated in a collaborative project with Bay Area-based Fog Fire Collective, alongside Jillian Crochet, Angela Willetts, Tanja Geis and Minoosh Zomorodinia. They presented a striking, monumental installation titled “Scrub Index” at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco for this year’s Bioneers Conference in May. The work featured multiple 40 foot scrolls of muslin suspended from the ceiling. A labor of love. The muslin was weighted by jagged oceanic rocks from the immediate area, which the artists returned to their place of origin after the installation. Videos of hands kneading and “washing” the fabric were projected onto the fabric surfaces.


    Created onsite in the ocean-shored areas adjacent to the Palace, the muslin was naturally dyed by rubbings of the Palace, mud rubbings of a sea wall nearby, and in the shallow areas where green algae, and soft beige and gray sand linger. The fabric absorbs the land’s colors and textures, inverting the act of washing by “dirtying” to signify different ecologies of the area. The piece is inspired by a lake in the area that was once home to the “Washerwoman’s Lagoon”—a place during the Gold Rush for people to come and collectively wash their clothes, eat lunch, and gather while the clothes dried, draped on nearby chaparral.  You can see a video of their process on their Instagram site, here


    Iranian-born Minoosh Zomorodinia also recently curated an ambitious group show titled “Between Lands” at Southern Exposure in the Mission District, which includes Iranian artists from the US and Iran. The exhibition featured several video works, inviting viewers to spend quality time with each piece, watching and listening. Much of the content was generated on the other side of the world, which further illuminated the point that ecological issues are global as well as local. The works invited visitors to “consider our attachments and anxieties in relationship with land and home when there is loss caused by war, fire, displacement, or other disaster,” stated Zomorodinia.

    Through cinematography, collage, performance or mapping, the artists highlight the damage and demise of the landscape at the hands of humans. There was also an afternoon of tea and snacks held outside the gallery on the busy sidewalk, made from herbs and plants that can help curb the effects of air pollution caused by wildfire smoke. The problems caused by humans that damage land, erase history, or provoke health issues commonly stem from the need for territory or the ego’s need for power—desperation to live at the expense of our precious resources.



    Yet there’s also a glimmer of hope as people endure and persist, whether through song, storytelling, sharing a moment with a cup of tea…or making art like the members of ecoartspace.  


  • Monday, June 27, 2022 10:10 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    June 27, 2022

    This week we recognize the work of artist      Beth Ames Swartz.

    Coming from a spiritual and artistic grounding rooted in an urban environment in New York, Swartz initially struggled with a feeling of displacement and disconnection when she moved to the desert environs of Arizona in 1959. Over the following decade, her art began to transition away from representation and into the realms of landscape abstraction. In 1970, during a rafting trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, the artist was transformed by the enveloping experience. She states "The desert became my mentor. Exposed to nature's abiding cycles, I felt the dignity and continuity of the earth and needed to translate my feelings visually."  Pilgrimage and associated rituals using fire then became a prominent strategy in her art, leading to multi-year projects where the artist traveled to sacred sites in the Southwest and Europe, where she initiated on-site paintings on heavy scrolls of paper, incorporating soils from each location into the works.

    In the late 1970’s, Swartz made smoke drawings and imagery or  “fire works,” which were a material transformation she developed from the application of destructive forces, mutilation and fire onto her work. Her series Transformations: Mica, Fabric & Lint (above), then led to a series Process/Ritual, forms that emerged from her large site works (below).

    "The crux of all my art is life, death and rebirth, the cycles of life both in nature and life. Entropy is misunderstood once we realize that this constant reordering is always an opportunity to reframe the past into new awareness, reconciliation and eventual transformation."

    Green Sand Beach #8”, 1979,(above) was created with fire, sand, acrylic, variegated gold leaf and mixed-media on layered paper. While Swartz was an artist-in residence in Hawaii, she heard about and then visited the green sand beach and executed her fire-ritual at the site; ordering, disordering, reordering or life/ death/ rebirth; similar to the transformations that the earth goes thru after eruptions with the eventual rebirth.

    "My art practice is a devotional activity, an intuitive journey and lifelong quest to transcend brokenness and create reconciliation, transformation and beauty. I focus on art's potential for healing & unifying people, helping us to recognize the commonality of the human experience and our place in the cosmos."

    In 1980, Swartz traveled to Israel and visited ten historical sites as part of her series “Israel Revisited.” The series is a culmination of her exploration into the four elements and a reflection on influences of feminism, environmentalism and Jewish history. Each site was chosen for its connection to important female figures from the Bible. Red Sea #1 (above) honors Miriam, who, like her brother Moses, was considered a prophet and leader of the Israelites. Swartz painted and pierced the surface of a heavy rag paper, then covered it in soil and set it afire. She later reconstructed the tattered pieces in her studio, completing a personal cycle of life, death and rebirth.

    In her series The Thirteenth Moon (below), Swartz was inspired by three revered eighth century Chinese poets: Du Fu, Li Bai and Wang Wei. Her mixed media paintings visualize their poems to reflect the richness of their respective world views: Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.

    Beth Ames Swartz grew up in New York City where she studied at the Art Students League in the late 1940s while attending The High School of Music & Art. Following she attended Cornell University for undergraduate school and New York University where she received her Masters. In 1959, at age twenty-three, she moved with her first husband to Phoenix, Arizona. There she was introduced to Action Painting, a spontaneous application of paint to the canvas, which she combined with her feminist interests to make expressions of her relationship with the Earth. She received the Arizona Governor's Individual Artist Award in 2001 and was the subject of a Phoenix Art Museum retrospective and major monograph in 2002. The Veteran Feminists of America honored Beth in 2003 for her contribution to the arts nationally. Swartz's work is in the public collections of National Museum of American Art (Smithsonian Institution), Jewish Museum, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Phoenix Art Museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Albuquerque Museum and many corporate and private collections. Her new website, coming soon! www.bethamesswartz.com

    Featured Images: Above, ©Beth Ames Swartz, painting at the Red Sea, Israel, April 17, 1980; Transformations: Mica, Fabric & Lint Series, 1977, mixed media on paper, approximately 23 x 33 inches; Green Sand Beach #8, 1979, fire, sand, acrylic, variegated gold leaf, mixed-media on layered paper, 34 x 54 inches; The Red Sea #1 (Israel Revisited, Ten Sites),” 1980, Collection of Diane and Gary Tooker, included in the exhibition “Counter-Landscapes: Performative Actions from the 1970s – Now,” 2020, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona; Du Fu: A lonely moon turns among the waves (A line of cranes in flight is silent; A pack of wolves baying over their prey breaks the quiet; I cannot sleep because I am concerned about wars; Because I am powerless to amend the world), 2012, acrylic and paste on canvas, approximately 36 x 48 inches.

    Watch the New Art of the American West film segment on Beth Ames Swartz from 1979:


  • Wednesday, June 22, 2022 8:50 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    Elizabeth Condon, Abstraction of the World, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 27 x 23 inches

    Studio Visit with Two Coats of Paint

    Elisabeth Condon: Beautiful complexity

    June 21, 2022

    Contributed by Sharon Butler / To understand Elisabeth Condon‘s paintings, it seems important to know that she grew up in California in a highly decorated house where she spent hours staring at the wild patterns of the fabrics and wallpapers. The experience certainly informs her exuberant paintings, in which pattern, flower, landscape all co-exist, as she says in her artist statement, in living, breathing presence. She has traveled extensively in China, where she studied sumi-e. Her aesthetic is also informed by the Expressionists’ and Color Fields painters’ approaches to paint application, although she seems to be moving away from the pour in a new series of work on paper. In a 2019 catalogue essay, Jason Stopa wrote that Condon’s paintings are visionary, “a container for near-religious feeling in a world of the secular.” Condon lives primarily in New York, but spends time in Florida, where she has had a house since her faculty days in the painting program at the University of South Florida. I stopped by her LES studio during the Clemente Open Studios where we talked about what she’s been doing, and then I followed up via email with a few questions.

    Continue reading here

  • Monday, June 20, 2022 8:56 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    June 20, 2022

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Fern Shaffer.

    "My interest in science has always directed me to information about the environment. By recognizing how everything is interconnected, our society can avoid mistakes that will only come back to haunt us. It makes no sense to poison the water when we will ultimately be the ones to consume it. The pattern is repeated over and over again revealing the crisis potential of our culture’s desire for immediate gratification. Living in an increasingly dangerous, toxic, and stagnant environment, for both animal and plant life, led me to investigate the dilemma through my art."

    Ginkgo is a genus of highly unusual non-flowering plants. The genus first appeared in the Permian, 250 million years ago, possibly derived from “seed ferns” of the order Peltaspermales, thus the Ginkgo is a living fossil. A single tree can live as long as 1,000 years and grow to 120 feet.  The Ginkgo is a tough and hardy tree, they can live in most climates therefore they have been planted and cultivated all over the world. For thousands of years, leaves from the Ginkgo Biloba tree have been a common treatment in Chinese medicine.

    "As an artist, this tree represents the plant kingdom, and I paint the leaves as a way to show respect and pay tribute to its strength and endurance. If humans became extinct, life on the planet would survive, but if there were no plants, humans would perish. Our existence depends on these species."

    The "Morphogenic Fields" series from 1983 (above), its title referencing the aura of radiation that emanates from living beings, features the female form, rendered in soul-baring, tenuous outline. Shaffer uses a shifting figure/ground relationship calling to mind the flow of energy in, out and through us, depicting women enveloped within fields of gestural DNA-like marks or packed with radiating color strokes like bursts of energy set against darker voids. Evoking both the personal and universal, these works address women's identity on the threshold of exploring, and perhaps realizing, the possibilities for fulfillment opened up by feminism.

    In 1980, inspired by her interest in Edgar Cayce, Mircea Eliade and Michael Harner, and prompted by ecological concerns shared with her collaborator Othello Anderson, Shaffer began enacting self-designed shamanistic rituals as a form of spiritual intervention. Anderson documented the rituals in sequential photographs that were later exhibited with elements (ceremonial garments and objects) from the performances. Feminist art critic Gloria Feman Orenstein situated Shaffer's work as part of an emerging Ecofeminism movement, describing the rituals as introducing "feminist matristic resonances" intended to create connections and restoration in the sites and communities within which they are enacted. According to writer and critic Suzi Gablik, Shaffer's "process of creating a shamanic outfit to wear can be likened to creating a cocoon, or alchemical vessel, a contained place within which magical transformations can take place." Art critic Thomas McEvilley related the garments to "an earth mother or fertility-goddess motif," evoking "non-Western or non-Modern identities" in the service of ecological concern. The artists describe the rituals in terms of "energy and thought centered on the equal balance and harmony between Nature, science, and spirit," connecting with the Earth as a living entity whose energy can be reached and unblocked through ritual, prayer and touch, much like acupuncture works on the human body.

    Fern Shaffer  is an American painter, performance artist, lecturer and environmental advocate. Her work arose in conjunction with an emerging Ecofeminism movement that brought together environmentalism, feminist values and spirituality to address shared concern for the Earth and all forms of life. She first gained widespread recognition for a four-part, shamanistic performance cycle, created in collaboration with photographer Othello Anderson in 1985 title Rituals. Writer and critic Suzi Gablik praised their work for its rejection of the technocratic, rationalizing mindset of modernity, in favor of communion with magic, the mysterious and primordial, and the sous. Gablik featured Shaffer's Winter Solstice, 1985 (below), as the cover art for her influential book, The Reenchantment of Art, and wrote that the ritual opened "a lost sense of oneness with nature and an acute awareness of ecosystem" that offered "a possible basis for reharmonizing our out-of-balance relationship with nature. Shaffer is a long-time activist for women in the art through her involvement and leadership at the Chicago alternative art space Artemisia Gallery (1982-1992) and work with the national Women's Caucus for Art.     www.fernshaffer.com

    Featured Images: Above, ©Fern Shaffer, The Swamp, 2007, of the Cache River Swamp, Southern, Illinois, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 180 inches; Ginkgo Leaves, Building a Tree (ongoing), oil and acrylic on canvas, 8 x 10 inches each; Morphogenic Fields (series), 1983, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 inches; Fifth Ritual, May 9, 1999, Death Valley, California; Life, Ontology at 36, 1981,canvas, acrylic, raffia, 108 x 100 inches; below, Winter Solstice, 1985, ritual performance, Lake Michigan.




  • Monday, June 13, 2022 10:13 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    June 13, 2022

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Mierle Laderman Ukeles.

    In 1969, Ukeles wrote Maintenance Art Manifesto 1969! Proposal for an exhibition, "CARE," a manifesto in which she examined her position as an artist and mother. She sought to challenge the domestic role of women by reframing herself as a "maintenance artist," including household activities that keep things going, such as cooking, cleaning and child-rearing. The manifesto also addressed "general" or public maintenance (cleaning a building, or a street) and earth maintenance, such as addressing polluted waters. Her exhibitions and performances were and are intended to bring awareness to the low social status of maintenance work.

    Since 1977, when Ukeles became the official, unsalaried Artist-in-Residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation, she has created art that deals with the endless maintenance and service work that “keeps the city alive,” urban waste flows, recycling, ecology, urban sustainability and our power to transform degraded land and water into healthy inhabitable public places.

    Ukeles asks whether we can design modes of survival -- for a thriving planet, not an entropic one – that don’t crush our personal and civic freedom and silence the individual’s voice.

    Touch Sanitation is one of Ukeles’ most ambitious early projects and a milestone in the history of performance art. Taking almost a year, Ukeles met over 8500 employees of the New York Sanitation Department, shaking hands with each of them and saying, “Thank you for keeping New York City alive.” She documented her activities on a map, meticulously recording her conversations with the workers. Ukeles documented the workers' private stories in an attempt to change some of the negative words used in the public sphere of society, using her art as an agent of change to challenge conventional stereotypes.

    This 20 cubic-yard garbage truck (above) faced with hand-tempered mirror is The Social Mirror, which was included in Ukeles' retrospective at the Queens Museum in 2016-2017. It first debuted at the grand finale of the NYC Art Parade in 1983, and later was exhibited at the 2007 Armory Show. According to Ukeles, “This project allowed citizens to see themselves linked with the handlers of their waste.”

    Ceremonial Arch (below), also included in Ukeles' retrospective, was comprised of 5,000 used, signed work gloves from workers at New York’s Fire, Police, Sanitation, Environmental Protection, Parks, Cultural Affairs and Transportation Departments, as well as the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The arch was topped with a canopy of tools used by ConEd workers, placed over six sturdy columns. Ukeles stated, “I put the gloves at the entrance as if to bless everyone for the sacrifice of their lives.”

    Mierle Laderman Ukeles     is a feminist artist known for her service-oriented artworks, which relate the idea of process in conceptual art to domestic and civic "maintenance." She has been the official, unsalaried artist-in-residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation since 1977 (HON 2019). Among her key works not mentioned above include Snow Workers’ Ballet, Echigo Tsumari; Unburning Freedom Hall; and LANDING at Freshkills Park (in process). She has exhibited internationally including the Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA PS1, Istanbul Biennial, Manifesta 10, among many other important venues and is the permanent collections of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Art Institute of Chicago (promised gift), and the Jewish Museum, New York, and many other important art institutions. Ukeles received a B.A. in international relations from Barnard College in 1961 and an M.A. in interrelated arts from New York University in 1973.  She is currently based in New York and Israel.  feldmangallery.com/artist-home/mierle-laderman-ukeles.com


    Featured Images: Above, ©Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Wash: Washing, Tracks, Maintenance — Outside and Inside, July 22, 1973, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut; Artist-in-Residence, New York City Department of Sanitation since 1977; Touch Sanitation Performance, 1979-80, New York City; The Social Mirror, 4th iteration since 1983 at Queens Museum, 2016-2017; Ceremonial Arch Honoring Service Workers IV, 1988-2016 including 5000 gloves of maintenance workers at retrospective, Queens Museum, 2016-2017; below, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Dusting a Baffle, from Private Performances of Personal Maintenance as Art, 1970, Photograph Jack Ukeles.



  • Monday, June 06, 2022 8:41 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    June 6, 2022

    This week we recognize the work of artist Lenore Malen.

    Malen is a New York based interdisciplinary artist, who in 1999 invented The New Society for Universal Harmony, a fictional re-creation of an l8th century utopian society. Since she has used the lens of history and humor to explore utopian longings, dystopic aftermaths, and the sciences and technologies that inform them. She works with diverse media in all her projects incorporating live performance, photography, film/video, multi-screen projection, installation and fiction writing.

    Filmed in Genoa and Bogliasco in May 2019 during a residency at The Bogliasco Foundation, Circe (above) was produced, written and directed by Lenore Malen. The Story, adapted from Homer’s Odyssey, Book 10, Circe, a Greek mythological figure, a sorceress, daughter of the Oceanid Nymph Perse and the God Helios, uses herbs and potions to poison the men around her. Preferring the company of animals to human males she transforms these same men into pigs.

    In this film and installation Circe’s tale is woven into a dérive, an unplanned journey through the city of Genoa and into the mountains. On the journey Circe is accompanied by three men she befriends at the Aquarium of Genoa while lurking around large tanks of aquatic animals. The entourage reads aloud while they walk, at first from a screenplay by Gary Indiana on dislocation, lost objects, unfamiliar places. Eventually they turn to Book 10 that they read and re-read, rehearsing for a play while moving through the city.

    Circe is a document of a live performance, a comedy and improbable spectacle on the streets of Genoa. It is also a myth in narrative form.

    "From 2012-15, I was working with actors and a stage director hoping to bring to life an image from a 15th century manuscript illumination that we could use as a springboard for an investigation into human ecological destruction and our endlessly cruel treatment of non human animals. Many workshops led to video documentation that inspired the making of short films and eventually developed into Scenes From Paradise."

    Scenes From Paradise (above) is a dark comedy presented in multiple formats: a film, live performances, and three-channel video installations, which are variously titled Reversal, The Reason of the Strongest is Always the Best, So we’ll no more go a rowing by the light of the moon and Scenes From Paradise. In every format Eden, the cautionary tale, is made newly relevant by the ticking clock of climate change, habitat loss and extinction. But we do not live in a human centered world; we only imagine that we do.

    A fairy tale in an anxious time, the final chapter of Scenes from Paradise, Eve in Sheepland (above) is a dark comedy in 9 short scenes (17 minutes). It was filmed as a live, unscripted performance on a sheep farm in Ghent, New York. The two characters Eve and Adam, time travelers, find themselves on the farm. Naked and unashamed, befuddled and doomed they interact with the sheep, they learn to be human and they die. Together the scenes reveal the sheep’s bodily sense of vulnerability (and panic) as well as their profound knowledge of earth and death that we humans find too much to bear.

    I Am The Animal (below) explores apiculture and the writings of Jacques Derrida brought together in three-channel video installations and a documentary film on beekeepers in the Hudson Valley Region. The title of the project is an homage to Derrida’s The Animal That Therefore I Am, l998, which is a philosophical investigation into the way we have anthropomorphized animals and a plea against the industrialized treatment of them. In the films interview with beekeepers are intercut with historical and found footage.

    Lenore Malen published her eponymously titled book The New Society For Universal Harmony in 2005 (Granary Books). She has exhibited and performed since 2004 on the BBC (Lion TV), at Apex Art, Participant Inc., Location One, The Slought Foundation. In 2010-2012 she performed at Wave Hill, Tufts University and the Mediations Biennale in Poznan, Poland. And, in 2019 at the Uppsala Konstmusem, Sweden. In Spring 2020, Malen was awarded a grant by the Finnish Cultural Institutes for a project (co-produced with Samir Bhowmik) titled “Where from Here” on the subject of virtuality in a pandemic.

    Malen received a BA in Art History from Skidmore College, an MA in Art History from the University of Pennsylvania and later studied at the School of Visual Arts with the artist Will Insley while he was working on “OneCity,” a Non Utopian Monumental City. She was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and NYFA and NYSCA awards in Interdisciplinary Art. She teaches in the Art/Media/Technology Program at Parsons/The New School, New York. lenoremalen.com

    Featured Images: Above, ©Lenore Malen, Circe (2020) filmed in Genoa, Italy during a residency at The Bogliasco Foundation; Circe (2020) on Vimeo (25 mins); Scenes from Paradise (2013-2017) performed live at Art Omi International Art Centerin 2016; Eve in Sheepland, 2018, installation at Uppsala Konstmuseum, Sweden, 2019; I Am Animal, 2007-2010, featured at CR10 in 2015, Livingston, New York, curated by Amy Lipton ; below, Lenore Malen at The Bogliasco Foundation, Genoa, Italy, 2019.

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