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
  • Friday, March 04, 2022 12:36 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    March 4, 2022

    On Salt, Seaweed, and Disappearing Places

    Susan Hoffman Fishman for Artists & Climate Change

    California-based artist, writer, and researcher Christina Conklin grew up spending summers along the coast of Oregon where she first developed a relationship with and understanding of the ocean as “an infinite vessel” of ever-changing and interconnected living systems. For the last 12 years, her artwork has explored the intersection of art, science, and spirituality as it relates to the sea. 

    Conklin’s career path prior to her current focus as an artist and writer on the ocean in the context of the climate crisis, included work in the publishing and non-profit sectors, after which she became a full-time textile artist and freelance writer. Acknowledging her background in textiles, she admits that all of her artwork has what she calls “textility,” an inherent textural quality. It also incorporates her long-time interest in spirituality and philosophy, which she attributes to her background as an undergraduate religious studies major at Middlebury College in Vermont.


    Apophacy, glass vessel, hanging wire, 12 gallons of water, 8 pounds of salt, 13 ft. diameter, 2014

    From 2012-2014, during her MFA program at California College of the Arts, Conklin created process-based, ephemeral works that combined scientific experimentation with artmaking and contemplative practice. For these pieces, she used salt and water as her primary media, which she applied directly onto the floor. In Apophacy (see photo above), for example, the salt and water mixture created a rough, almost bubbly surface, like a primordial mix, thick in some areas and thin in others. From above, the floor-based installation had a globe-like appearance, suggesting bodies of water and land formations. Its title references a theological term for “the ineffable nature of that which could be called sacred and the unsaying of all the words that so often fail to approach its description.”

    Continue reading HERE


  • Tuesday, March 01, 2022 10:51 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    “Tree Talk,” 2018, Ponderosa Pine Tree sonification

    Anne Yoncha Interview by
    Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Anne Yoncha speaks with the trees. Through biodata depiction using galvanometer sensors and speakers, Yoncha presents the experience of plants, peat and prairie grasses in an eye opening, often minimal, aesthetic. By presenting biodata in its raw form, she allows the environment to be amplified so that all of us can hear the stories of the Pines. Based in Oklahoma, USA, the artist works closely with scientists and composers to create multisensorial interactions between humanity and an otherwise invisible world.

    Art allows us to see, feel, hear environmental processes that are otherwise invisible to us, operating at a different scale or a different timeframe.



    “Succession: A Visual Score” 2019, sonified biodata composed with cello recording

    Much of your work encompasses and visualizes existing issues and studies related to environmental sciences. What can art as a platform do that research alone cannot?

    Art allows us to see, feel, hear environmental processes that are otherwise invisible to us, operating at a different scale or a different timeframe. We suddenly have access to a more direct understanding of an experience beyond our typical human one. Maybe we are able for a moment to experience some of the processes and pressures on a lifeform which is not our own. Maybe it leads us to draw parallels to our own experience (for example, our human death from embolism would be physiologically similar to a plant’s death from drought). Maybe it leads us to act, or maybe just to be curious. I think this open, questioning, expanded experience is crucial as we can increasingly access more information, because information doesn’t always lead to understanding. When understanding of our ecological problems is limited, artists have historically been successful in uncovering background narratives, shaping how scientifically declared emergencies are perceived and acted upon.

    Artists have historically been successful in uncovering background narratives, shaping how scientifically declared emergencies are perceived and acted upon.


    “Second Wind” 2019, Depicting pine tree wind velocity

    In order to create this awareness, you often use technologies to transcribe environmental phenomena like in Tree Talk or Succession: A Visual Score or Second Wind. These pieces are embodiments of usually unheard environmental interaction. How do you collaborate or use tools as a bridge for understanding? What is this process like?

    I first became interested in this idea of transcription in 2018 when I was playing with a galvanometer sensor and some Ponderosa pine seedlings. We had a room of artists and plant physiologists, using a synthesizer to make the plants sound, at one moment, like an uplifting orchestra, at the next, a quieter, mournful organ. Any decision we made about how to sonify the data was entangled with our subjective choices. In “Succession”, I wanted to explore this idea of reading and interpreting data about two plant groups in conflict. The drawing was my own reading of the place, the data overlay was the sensor reading. Then, I handed the project off to my collaborators, and they read the piece too. Now, as the red cursor moves across the video, the viewer is the last reader. In “Second Wind”, I was interested in performing data –wind data, in the gallery, in real time. We are so focused on collecting data, gathering it, analyzing it later. So, giving it a moment on “stage” and letting it go seemed like a bit of a radical act. Would we pay more attention to it, knowing we could only keep it for a moment?

    Would we pay more attention to it, knowing we could only keep it for a moment?


    “RE:Peat, Layers of Peat in Northern Finland, a Look and Listen” 2019

    By performing data, you are letting the elements speak for themselves rather than through interpretation. As a result, much of your work is highly educational and revealing about the world otherwise unseen. Do you have a mission for this work? What has been your inspiration?

    Media theorist Boris Groys wrote about the difference between the digital image file, which is always consistent but impossible to experience, versus the digital image, which we experience as a unique manifestation each time we open the file. I am interested in the distinction between the data itself and our experience of it. Philosopher Albert Borgmann’s “device paradigm” critiques how we consume technological devices and their outputs yet separate ourselves from their mechanics. The digital world has brought us so much connection at the price of so much detachment. I want to extend this thinking into the bio-art realm, building scientific and aesthetic understanding of how we consume ecological systems, while conceptually and emotionally separating ourselves from the damage we do to them. I also see my work as a way for me – and hopefully if all goes well, viewers also – to pay attention. Many of my projects are assignments I give myself to satisfy curiosity about how digital and analog processes work.

    …the bio-art realm, building scientific and aesthetic understanding of how we consume ecological systems, while conceptually and emotionally separating ourselves from the damage we do to them.


    Lab (2018), Pine Seedling Regrowth, Study and Sonification

    So, you are acting not just as a translator between environments, but also between digital and material. Many of the materials you employ are machine based or highly tactile like cloth or painted paper. What appeals to you about this contrast between rationality and tactility?

    Tactility makes us feel something! But in all seriousness, I first heard the term “data materialization” from fellow artist Courtney Starrett and it has stuck with me ever since. We can do more than just visualize data. The materials and processes we use can also add meaning and impact. This is fun for me, too, because it means I can learn new processes based on each place and ecosystem I’m making work about. I love this contrast between rationality and tactility, between subjectivity and objectivity, because it gets blurred once you really break down our methods of collecting and interpreting information. I try to make work which points out that slipperiness.

    The materials and processes we use can also add meaning and impact.

    Thank you, Anne, for a wonderful interview! I look forward to hearing where your work takes you next. Oliva


  • Tuesday, March 01, 2022 9:00 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    The ecoartspace March 2022 e-Newsletter is HERE



  • Monday, February 28, 2022 9:00 AM | Callie Smith


    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    February 28, 2022

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Betsy Damon.

    "Our world’s living systems are endlessly exciting and constantly humbling in their complexity. My skills as an artist allow me to center water as the foundation to all life. In my journey to understand water, my partner is science and my driving purpose is curiosity. I look through the mist to examine the vast expanse of interconnected living systems that contains you and me."


    In 1985, after a cross-country camping trip with her children, Damon found herself reconnected to the primal elements of the natural world --the sound of wind, the flow of water, the forest, the rain. This initiated the casting of a 250-foot dry riverbed, "The Memory of Clean Water," which brought her attention to the invisible destruction that development was having on water sources. In the early evening, while casting the riverbed, Betsy looked up to realize that the stones of the riverbed were patterned like the stars of the sky, that everywhere were the patterns of water. She committed herself to learning everything about water, little did she know that 27 years later she would still be deeply entrenched.

    Beginning with the creation of Keepers of the Waters in 1991, Damon has continued to work towards creating community-based models of water stewardship. Her work includes sculpture, teaching, lectures, and workshops. In China, she created the nation's first public art event for the environment, and most notably the Living Water Garden, a world-renowned public park and natural water filtration model. In the US, she is continuously working with communities and grassroots groups, as well as completing art and design commissions.


    Betsy Damon's inspiration comes from extensive research of sacred water sites, and her curiosity for the biology and earth sciences that compose living systems. Always seeking new ways to articulate the complexity of water and engage communities in caring for this precious resource, Damon continues her passion.

    Betsy Damon is the founder and director of Keepers of the Water, a nonprofit organization that encourages art, science and community projects for the understanding and remediation of living water systems. Forty years ago, Damon stepped outside her traditional art training and carved a unique path to work with the environment, communities, science and art. She was engaged in the women's movement of the 1970s, where she founded No Limits for Women Artists, a network to join and support female artists. In 1985, while making a cast of a dry riverbed in Castle Valley, Utah, she decided to devote the rest of her artistic life to water. She started Keepers of the Waters in 1991 with the support of the Hubert Humphrey Institute. Damon received an MFA from Columbia University in 1966. www.betsydamon.com www.keepersofthewater.org

    Featured Images (Top to Bottom): ©Betsy Damon, "Mist Rising," "A Memory of Clean Water" (1985), "Living Water Garden" (1998), "Principles of Water" (2019), "Sounds of Water" (2004).


  • Thursday, February 24, 2022 11:26 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    Wendy DesChene and Jeff Schmuki, Monsantra Plant Bots (2019)

    Artists Find Creative Ways to Raise Food Insecurity Awareness

    While it may be strange to think of food insecurity as a basis for art, the works in Food Justice reveal barriers and injustices in food access.

    by Anna Mirzayan

    January 17, 2022 for Hyperallergic


    PITTSBURGH — Food Justice: Growing a Healthier Community through Art, a multimedia group exhibition at Pittsburgh’s Contemporary Craft, is ambitious; it purports to highlight global food insecurity and its place in a complex ecosystem of injustice and inequality, including poverty, racism, climate change, and dubious corporate and governmental practices. It’s fitting, then, that each artist’s work is accompanied by both an object label and a “field guide,” which provides commentary on that work’s thematic relationship to food justice, written by community partners that support related causes, such as food banks, urban gardens, and university food research think tanks.  

    The inclusion of field guides, which are less direct reflections on each piece and more related ruminations, ingeniously weaves together the works and the issues they represent within the habitats that shaped and naturalized them, complete with signifiers that unite the disparate pieces under the banner of “food justice.”

    Read the full review HERE


    Excerpt on the work of members Wendy DesChene and Jeff Schmuki

    At first glance, Monsantra Plant Bots and Community Hydroponic Garden, both projects by Wendy DesChene and Jeff Schmuki from 2019, use living flora in contrasting ways; the former consists of what looks like lengthy, verdant grass adhered to two sets of remote-controlled monster truck wheels. As the title suggests, the piece merges Monsanto GMO seedlings with robotics, producing a comical hybrid that portends a somber future for agriculture. The edible plants in Community Hydroponic Garden grow from their machines, fed by carefully distilled water into porous, pH-neutral ceramic containers tended throughout the show by community members who actually harvest the yield for food. Perhaps this garden of “working water” (hydroponics) is actually another creation of the plant bots, showing us an alternate future of sustainable food that melds human communal labor and technology. As this project asks “where does our food come from?” it is accompanied by a field guide that talks about what globalized capitalism has done to food sovereignty.

  • Monday, February 21, 2022 9:00 AM | Callie Smith


    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    February 21, 2022

    This week we recognize the work of artist Ruth Wallen.

    "The magnificence, diversity and delight of the forest cannot be fully expressed in any single image. I’ve chosen the form of a photomontage to provide a series of glimpses, from a variety of scales and perspectives, to evoke both the vibrancy of life and the fragmentation caused from a myriad of ecological challenges."

    "What happens when a community turns its back on its waters? Currently much of Escondido Creek, which runs in front of the California Center for the Arts Escondido museum, where this project was first exhibited, is hidden behind chain link fences and obscured by a cement channel. 'Daylighting Escondido Creek Watershed' helps create a watershed moment by encouraging dialogue around what has been hidden—the wonders of the watershed, its changing ecology due to urbanization, globalization and a warming climate, and possible visions for maintaining and rejuvenating the watershed’s future health."

    “Walking with Trees” is an ongoing project to be present to the ecological changes in California forests. Over 150 million trees have died in California since 2010 due to urbanization, climate change and new species introduced through global trade. The massive die-off of trees in San Diego started even earlier with the fires of 2003, one of which, the Cedar Fire, was the largest in the state until two years ago. Another huge series of fires ravaged the county in 2007, followed by the introduction of the Goldspotted oak borer in 2008. The impacts of these events are more fully detailed in other recent projects, including Listen to the Trees, Daylighting Escondido Creek Watershed, and Cascading Memorials.

    “Listen to the Trees” addresses the impact of climate change on San Diego's ecology. The installation focuses on two trees, the coastal Torrey pine and the Jeffrey pine growing in the inland mountains. Photomontages line the walls, while tree stumps offer visitors a place to sit and contemplate the scene. On one stump, an iPad touch screen displays diagrams of the tree rings of these two species based on historical data and models projecting future climate under differing emissions scenarios.

    Ruth Wallen  is a multi-media artist and writer whose work is dedicated to encouraging dialogue around ecological and social justice. After working as an environmental scientist, she turned to art to pose questions beyond disciplinary boundaries, address values informing environmental policy, and contribute to the developing field of ecological art. She creates interactive installations, nature walks, web sites, artist books and performative lectures. Her critical writing addresses ecological art and race, gender and visual culture. Active in the border region she was a founding member of the multinational artist collective Las Comadres, past president of the Binational Association for Schools of Communication in the Californias and a Fulbright Lecturer at the Autonomous University of Baja California, Tijuana. Currently she is chair for the MFAIA in Interdisciplinary Arts program at Goddard College. www.ruthwallen.net

    Featured Images: ©Ruth Wallen, "Daylighting Escondido Creek Watershed" (2018), "Walking with Trees," "Listen to the Trees" (2016-2017)


  • Saturday, February 19, 2022 3:16 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    Linda Stillman, Daily Skies: 2020, February 15, 2020 focus, 2021, archival pigment print on paper, 19 x 13 inches


    Posted on February 14, 2022 by Jennifer McGregor on Artspiel

    Landscape Deconstructed at the Hammond: Linda Stillman

    Part 1: Linda Stillman – Interview with Jennifer McGregor

    Landscape Deconstructed: Mimi Czajka Graminski and Linda Stillman is a virtual exhibition on view at the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden website until June 2022. It is curated by Bibiana Huang Matheis. The opening on September 11, 2021, included a virtual conversation with Mimi Czajka Graminski and Linda Stillmanmoderated byJennifer McGregor which has been distilled and reformatted for individual interviews with each artist.

    The Hudson Valley artists met in 2011 and were immediately struck by the similarities in their work and have continued a dialogue since then. Landscape Deconstructed is the first time their artwork is presented in tandem and underscores the way that both artists discover elements of their surroundings and reassemble them in ingenious ways. Through distinct processes, they each preserve fleeting moments of beauty in nature while documenting a particular time and place.

    You’ve been documenting the sky every day since 2005 in your Daily Skies series. Since time is such an important element in all of your work, how has this project evolved?

    I started out making paintings of a section of the sky on a little panel. To keep the project fresh, I changed the format each year, mounting the panels in different ways. The paintings in Landscape Deconstructed are from 2011. They are mounted by month in the form of a calendar on shaped panels that float away from the wall to create shadows, that give physicality to each month.

    After many years of painting on panels, I turned to various media, drawing, painting on paper, collaging and then photography. This year I’ve been taking a square photo of the sky with my phone, facing North at noon each day. I then post it on a dedicated Instagram account along with a photo of the ground.

    While the format has changed over the years, the desire to have a daily practice and record a fleeting moment remains the same. Taking time to look up at the sky each day is my way to honor and celebrate nature.


    Linda Stillman, Daily Paintings: March 2011, 2011/2014, acrylic on paper on panels, 15 x 14 x 3/4 inches 

    Continue reading here


  • Monday, February 14, 2022 3:05 PM | Callie Smith

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    February 14, 2022

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Bill Gilbert.

    "Since moving to New Mexico, my work has been focused on articulating the relationship between humans and place. Starting in 1979 I made the commitment to work with the native materials of my environmental back yard in northern New Mexico as means to develop an intimacy with the land."

    A site specific work on an abandoned tailings pond using aspen trees from the surrounding hillside, Desolation focuses on the beauty often present in destruction. The work changes through the course of the day in response to the movement of the sun, progressing from being nearly invisible in the early morning light to glowing with an apparently internal light at sunset.

    "Started in 2003 in the field with the Land Arts of the American West mobile studio, the Physiocartographies series combines the abstraction of cartographic maps with the physical act of walking the surface of the planet to create portraits of place. In the various works from this series I follow prescribed paths across the landscape using a gps unit to navigate and record points, a camera to shoot images and a digital recorder to capture sounds. The final works appear as reconstructed maps, videos and installations."

    "Part of my ongoing experiment in constructing a portrait of place by walking the surface of the planet, terrestrial/celestial navigations honors the relationship desert peoples have with the sky by weaving together heaven and earth. Each walk inscribes the land with the patterns of stars earlier cultures created to project their world into the night sky. In this series, I employ pedestrian and satellite technologies using google earth to establish GPS points for each star and my body to then inscribe constellations by walking them onto the ground."

    Bill Gilbert is Emeritus Distinguished Professor and Lannan Endowed Chair at the University of New Mexico, where he co-founded the Art & Ecology area and created the Land Arts of the American West program and the Land Arts Mobile Research Center with support from Lannan Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. From 1990-2000 Gilbert served as head of Ceramics at UNM. His involvement in developing the curriculum included work with Indigenous artists from Acoma Pueblo and Pastaza, Ecuador and Mestizo artists from Juan Mata Ortiz, Mexico. He has curated numerous exhibitions and written extensively on the topic of Indigenous ceramics practices in the Americas. Over the past fifteen years Gilbert has developed an art practice based in walking completing projects in the United States in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming as well as internationally in Prespes, Greece, New South Wales and South Australia and Malta. Gilbert is author of two books, Land Arts of the American West and Arts Programming for the Anthropocene: art in community and environment, both of which address the need to update the curriculum in tertiary level art education to prepare students to contribute to the changing world they enter upon graduation. www.unm.edu/~wgilbert/physio.html

    Featured Images:  ©Bill Gilbert, "Terrestrial/Celestial Navigations" (2011-2014); "Desolation" (1992); "For John Wesley Powell: attempts to walk the grid" (2005-2007); "Mindlines"


  • Sunday, February 13, 2022 8:58 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)



    One Beach Plastic, for here or to go, 2021; plastic collected at Kehoe Beach and ceramic dishware; Part of the exhibition Lands End, organized by FOR-SITE. Image courtesy FOR-SITE. Photo: Robert Divers Herrick

    Lands End at the former Cliff House

    by Barbara Morris for Articultures, February 7 ,2022

    The FOR-SITE Foundation, founded in 2003, has taken on the unique project of mounting exhibitions of immersive, site-specific installations set in some of the Bay Area’s national parks. With memorable exhibitions including 2012’s International Orange set at the imposing Fort Point, followed by 2014’s @Large:AiWeiwei at Alcatraz housed in the stark and unforgiving former prison, our relationship with the ocean, nature, and the environment, coupled with concern for human rights and freedom of expression, have long been at the forefront of their mission. Other exhibitions have dealt with thorny issues such as the needs for shelter, safety, and security.

    The latest in this series is Lands End, curated by FOR-SITE’s executive director Cheryl Haines, which takes the site of the former Cliff House restaurant—vacant since 2020—as a point of departure for the work of 26 artists and artist teams from around the globe. With its spectacular vistas and precarious perch, the work is brought to our attention in a setting that dramatizes it and also holds it at a distance, our attention torn between the interior and the exterior. The show, Haines states, “invites visitors to wade into an immersive environment where their charge is twofold: to discover artwork in unlikely places and to consider the planet’s health.”

    This is my second visit to the site, the former Cliff House, an iconic SF restaurant and ballroom—which I somehow managed to completely avoid during its lengthy history of providing dining with a spectacular backdrop to countless SF natives and tourists alike. The first Cliff House was built in 1863, and was destroyed and rebuilt twice, the rambling structure is perched at the edge of the Pacific Ocean on a bluff, quite literally the land’s end. On my previous visit, a clear day, the jaw-dropping views outside distracted me from focusing on the art for some time. This time, SF has been socked in and the coast is still blanketed in wispy fog. Crashing waves on rocks outside still beckon. With such a large show, I intend to give just a taste of the work, installations which stood out the most to me. As I am getting my bearings and juggling my pen, notebook, and other belongings, another visitor remarkably precisely echoes my initial sentiment, that “it’s hard to know whether to look inside or outside…” Well, perhaps it’s not so remarkable, given the show being put on in the bluffs.

    Continue on Articultures site HERE




  • Thursday, February 10, 2022 6:14 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    View from artist’s studio, Barges, Tugs and Tankers No. 21, work-in-progress 

    Vigil, Ellen Kozak’s first solo painting exhibition with David Richard Gallery, featured two fully realized series of abstract oil paintings on panel. The painter, with studios in New York City and beside the Hudson River in Greene County, explores the relationship between the fluidity of paint and river surfaces affected by the intersection of natural and manmade phenomena. Altogether the paintings activated the gallery space into a cohesive site-responsive installation.

    Tell me about the body of work in this exhibition.

    Two closely related bodies of work are presented in my solo show at the David Richard Gallery. The near-square paintings from 2017 to 2020 precede the Covid-19 pandemic. The paintings in my Barge, Tug and Tanker series began in April 2020. The large gallery, with 1,500 square feet of space and 20-foot ceilings, has provided a wonderful opportunity to unite both bodies of work. The show’s title refers to the inherent watchful nature of my decades-long artistic practice and my service with the environmental organization Riverkeeper, Inc. Gallery Director David Eichholtz designed the installation in a way that brings the site and sight—of the Hudson River from my studio —into the gallery, while simultaneously accentuating the rhythms and movement within each painting.

    Eight near-square paintings share a height/width ratio of 7/8. I began each painting on a field-easel on mornings beside the Hudson where I paint at several sites along the shoreline. Each painting is a record, a kind of chronicle, of a direct empirical encounter with subtle color shifts, transitory illumination, and patterns in continuous motion on the water’s surface. These paintings are reductive and more abstract than earlier bodies of work. My perceptual field is closer to the shoreline and without horizon, the behavior of paint is closer to the subject it depicts. Painting alla prima involves an aspect of performance. Oil paint and water share properties of viscosity, I explore paint as a mimetic medium—it has an honest relationship with my subject.


    Gallery View. Photo courtesy of David Richard Gallery 

    Continue reading on Art Speil HERE


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