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
  • Saturday, January 01, 2022 9:12 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    Image credit: David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit, ‘Los Angelitos de Nuestra Señora del Jardin,” asynchronous repeat pattern, archival watercolor inks printed on organic fabric, dimensions variable, commissioned by the Vallarta Botanical Garden, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, 2021.

    Interview with Fallen Fruit by Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Combining place-based research, fantastical eden-like installation artworks and community activism, the collaborative behind Fallen Fruits has transformed the meaning of what art can do and provide for its audience. These artworks live and grow providing both nourishment for the body and soul by creating public resources that approach topics of displacement, immigration, and legality. All of this held within the colorful, inviting peels of a topic everyone can relate to: fruit! Fallen Fruit is a collaborative art project originally conceived in 2004 by David Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young. Since 2013, David Burns and Austin Young have continued the collaborative work. David Burns and Austin Young discuss their international projects, inspirations and process.
     
    Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview! It is absolutely thrilling to speak with you on your work. Let’s start at the beginning: how did the fruits come to fruition?

    In 2004, Fallen Fruit began as a response to an open-call for submission for volume three of The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest. The basic question was asked, “is it possible to use the agency of activism, but without opposition?”

    We realized our response had to be something we already knew and something we were not paying attention to. We walked our neighborhood of Silverlake in north east Los Angeles, and discovered that over 100 fruit trees were growing in public spaces. Along alleys, sidewalks, and often branches of fruit trees planted on private property were abundantly overhanging fences well into public right-of-way. We mapped these publicly accessible fruit trees and wrote a text that questions who has a right to the fruit from these trees and who has the right to public space. We called the submission “Fallen Fruit” and this began our collaborative work. 


    People are so disconnected from each other in Los Angeles - we had the idea this would create social connections. Get out of the car, off the cell phone, and meet neighbors. We also realized we could activate the margins of public space to share resources like fruit bearing trees.

    During our interventions, people would tell family histories and stories about fruit. People were excited to connect with their family and cultural rituals, the natural world, and each other. In the end, we created a call to action that could benefit everyone, including the environment, and it does not make anyone wrong.

    We have been working on this project for over 17 years now. The project is always collaborative, the artworks are process oriented and research based. We do not have a studio and the work is always site specific. We have a philosophy that what we create is a body of artwork that is living and growing - literally and figuratively. 


    Image credit: Artists David Allen Burns and Austin Young with Curator Catherine Flood researching the V&A's botanical drawings collection. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2019.

    It is so exciting to see work that surpasses the limits of the traditional gallery and into an activist space that, as you say, “does not make anyone wrong.” And the title “Fallen Fruit” is so distinctive. What led to this title and how has this title led your collaborative work?

    FALLEN FRUIT is from Leviticus. It references an old Roman law:

    When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest.

    You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger.

    At first, we took this message literally. Drawing maps, walking cities, and thinking about messages of sharing and generosity. We explored the real world in real time and focused on fruit trees growing on the margins of public space in neighborhoods around the world. And everywhere we are invited to make art, we learn deeply about people and places.

    …everywhere we are invited to make art, we learn deeply about people and places.

    In our current work, we are focused on research based installation artworks. These works are also about place and activate historic collections, original photography, and now uses limits of architecture as the frame. The works explore collective meanings, cultural mythologies, and celebrate geographical locations. Our art and process has expanded in dynamic ways. We are exploring issues of identity, cultural memory, and historical artifacts. We love nuances of collective histories that synthesize concepts in themes of legacy and the public realm.

    For example, we have discovered that history is often bi-located, meaning that what is written and told as the historic truth and located geography is often actually in reference to something that happened elsewhere or its original thought is actually from somewhere else. Like the quote from Leviticus is an old Roman Law. Or that fruit moved westward with pioneers following and Manifest Destiny  - an idea that originated in the eastern states of the United States, but it was culturally actualized in a racially motivated movement to the west terminating in Portland, Oregon to be specific aka “the Oregon Trail.”


    Image credit: David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit, “Paradise,” documentation image, recontextualized selections from the permanent collection with custom made repeat pattern wallcovering,  dimensions variable, commissioned by Portland Art Museum, Porland, Oregon, USA, 2015.

    Our artworks are sometimes constructed from reorganizing found objects and objectifying the mythology referents of these objects. Our collective ‘perception of truth’ and how these interpretations relate to found objects… and ultimately how authorship and interpretation of meaning informs identity and place.

    Your work has quite a range! From living plants to found objects to collage and to repeat pattern installation design. But all of your work seems to have to do with people and connecting people. What role does identity play in your work?

    We believe in complex nuances of the familiar that celebrates people and places. We are focused on the importance of beauty and levity at this time. The asynchronous repeat patterns are carefully constructed and created from diligent on the ground research. We consider them to be portraits of a place -perhaps a city, a neighborhood, or even a garden.

    Our work has always been about connecting people. We consider our art to be a form of portraiture -- whether that be a map, or an immersive installation artwork, or a language score. We also recognize that everything we do is a collaboration -- not only in making the artwork as a duo, but also in the activation of its meaning via public engagement and museum archives. 


    Image credit: David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit, Event Horizon: recontextualized on 52 panels of glass, custom made a synchronous repeat pattern, archival inks printed onto acrylic substrate, commissioned by META / FACEBOOK as a permanent intervention on architecture by Frank Ghery, 2021.

    The visitor of an immersive artwork and their emotional response becomes a part of the artwork. The site also becomes an activated space. We focus on joy and delight and a seek to invoke the sense of the sublime. We get excited about the process of ‘discovery’ in two ways; as part of the research process and also in the maximal carefully considered installation design. We want all types of people to have an opportunity to identify with the artwork and have a sense of familiarity and understanding about their city, histories, and culture.’ And also give them a way to read deeper into the work if they choose. 


    Image credit: David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit, documentation image with custom refitted vintage sofa,  “Teatro del Sole / Theater of the Sun,”  asynchronous repeat pattern, archival watercolor inks printed on organic fabric, dimensions variable, commissioned by Manifesta 12, Palermo, Siciily, Italy, 2018.

    For much of your work, you are actually in collaboration with local governments as well as institutions and museums. What are some of the rewards and challenges while working with government bodies to create art works?

    It is an honor. The best part is always the connections we make with people and the idea that we leave something in a neighborhood that could bear fruit for another 100 years. We feel fortunate to be making artwork. We have been awarded almost 20 permanent works of art in public parks and public rights of way that use fruit bearing trees and shrubs as part of the materials  - in New York City, New Orleans, Madrid, Los Angeles, San Diego, and in 2022 upcoming at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno and more.

    All projects have a process and a timeline. “Challenges” and “rewards” we feel are better addressed as “process.” The more people involved and the larger the scale, more agencies are involved for review. 


    Image credit: David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit, “Monument to Sharing,” 32 orange trees and 32 line poem created collaboratively with the public, Los Angeles State Historic park, dimensions variable, a Creative Capital Foundation supported project, Los Angeles, California, USA, 2017.

    We consider sidewalks in a city and hallways in museums as equitable public spaces. They are the pathways that we travel from place A to place B and they are typically overlooked as places that have meanings. Like the unexpected occasionally epiphenal magic moment -- when the experience of the world resets itself. Seeing a rainbow, running into a friend, remembering something meaningful, noticing something new, etc. We love that place and moment most of all.


    Image credit: David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit,  “Promised Land,”  asynchronous repeat pattern, archival watercolor inks printed on organic fabric, dimensions variable, commissioned by Tel Aviv University Art Museum for the exhibition PLANET, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2019.



    Image credit: David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit,  “Historic Victorville Public Fruit Park,” created with the residents of historic Victorville, in partnership with R.O.O.T., San Bernardino Arts Connection, and the City of Victorville, 2018.


    What an important message it is to make magic moments at every corner! What is your advice for artists looking to make an impact beyond traditional artist paths?


    At the beginning, people were always trying to define our work as social activism, urban gardening, or a food project. We held our ground and kept presenting and describing the projects as artworks. We are artists making contemporary artwork. If you are starting out, say yes to everything and get into every group exhibition in your category; exhibitions about environment, photography, whatever. Another thing we regularly did was to take opportunities to curate projects inviting other visual artists, performance based artists, and experimental writers to participate with both existing and newly created works.  But in the end, you find your own way. There is no magic formula for making it right. We have exhibited in hundreds of group exhibitions and dozens of solo projects at all levels-- local, regional, national, and international. We are actively  learning from our research and try to continually push our  relationship to materials. We do not actively look for bigger, better, venues -- we are interested in making “good work.”  

    And this good work has a very distinct style! You have mentioned both surrealism and pop imagery as inspiration for this style. What influences are you responding to in your visual elements?


    We are always responding to the present moment - and growing as artists. Considering that we have been making work for 17 + years together - we make video art, photography, fruit parks, we do several participatory projects - some of which have become successful - including Lemonade Stand (our self portrait project) and Fallen Fruit Magazine - (our public magazine collage project) We are always thinking about new things and coming up with new ideas for artworks. It’s a journey. People have fallen in love with our immersive art installations and they have gotten more detailed and complex and better over time. 

    Pop art and Surrealism have influenced us as artists. We use media like abstraction or collage to relate ideas about the natural world in contemporary moments and in the abstract concepts related to memory and history. Since narrative is subjective, everyone's individual truth makes each person's reaction to the work "right" and we seek to create this common ground for sharing and community.


    Image credit: David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit,  “Fruits from the Garden and the Field (Purple and Yellow),”  commissioned by V&A Museum for the exhibition FOOD: Bigger than the Plate, London, England, 2019.

    Collaboration seems to be a really important part of your process. Can you describe your concept of “decentralized collaboration”?

    We believe that collaboration is an essential part of culture. In this way, we find that it is essential in contemporary art. Even visiting a museum is a collaboration. Walking in a neighborhood is a collaboration. Sharing an understanding is a collaboration. We, as a people, continually collaborate in passive and intentional ways everyday. We all can’t help it. It’s automatic and an integrated part of everyday life. This is how we as artists explore the depths and capacities for questioning and expand how authorship is created / co-created. 

    We, as a people, continually collaborate in passive and intentional ways everyday.

    A lot of our research is based on observations. Watching people in spaces; walking sidewalks, hanging out in parks, exploring libraries and museums. We listen. And then we listen more carefully to the sounds behind the words, the traffic, the animals, the machines. We listen to the spaces between the words. We watch this way also, looking for the meaning in all of the spaces we are investigating. These spaces are opportunities for unactivated collaborations.

    It goes back to the message from Leviticus -- In this case, our interpretation is to leave the harvest of the margins of meanings for the stranger or the passerby. To create beautiful artwork installations for people in the future. To protect the possibilities of learning about something that you may think you already know; to shift canonized meanings and shift understanding to open-ended possibilities found in the future - People may understand these ideas (artworks) differently than we do today over time.


    Thank you so much David Burns and Austin Young of Fallen Fruit for such an insightful interview! 

  • Monday, December 27, 2021 9:00 AM | Callie Smith

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    December 27, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Kristin Jones.

    "As an artist I see potential in all things. I am compelled to create contemplative, ephemeral work aimed at magnifying our awareness of place and present. Through my work, I attempt to render the invisible visible, and to awaken a sense of wonder on both a grand and intimate scale. Collaboration is central to my practice, prompting a direct dialogue with the site, history, the context, elements, and creative partners. Above all, I am fascinated by the absolute impermanence of the world to which we belong: the fluidity of light, natural phenomena, and the continuum of time."

    Four Seasons of Still Lives is a photographic body of work that explores the unseeable through medical imaging techniques. Featuring seasonal produce, flora, and other collected materials, the unlikely process of tomography makes the invisible visible. In most cases, these once familiar objects are abstracted beyond immediate recognition, resulting in a delicate, ghostly, and volumetric series of black and white images. Among the subjects pictured are a head of lettuce, a pompelmo, a durian, a pomegranate, a sweet potato, and the contents of a blue bird’s nest. Developed over the course of an ongoing residency hosted by Dr. Barry Berson at the New York Medical Imaging Lab, this series is a collaboration with radiology technician Elizabeth MacFarlane.

    The Suminagashi works are a series of experiments made by floating ink on the surface of water. This ongoing exploration of the physics of intangible fluid media has it’s origins in a fascination with the passage of time, an attempt to record an instant before it passes and dissipates, never to occur again.

    In choreographing elements such as the chemistry of different fluids and paper, the moisture in the environment and the movement of air, attempts to understand and control the media are challenging. The subtle movements in the liquid’s surface are thrillingly unpredictable, though anticipated. Time and again, it is a respect for, and collaboration with the materials and their interaction with natural phenomena that yield the most dynamic work.”


    Ineffable was a delicate, temporary installation made from an assemblage of hardly perceptible white threads, radiating from the top of a tall tree, fanning out over the stone amphitheater within the mossy woods below. The rays of this tent-like structure, when viewed from a distance coalesced into a distinct geometric form equaling far more than the sum of its’ parts.

    The piece was intended to sharpen our awareness of place and to augment our emotional relationship with light and the environment. The work was inspired by the exquisite amphitheater set into the wooded landscape, looking 270 degrees West at Mount Monadnock. The installation, made specifically for Medal Day at the MacDowell Colony during a 2014 residency there, was presented with Ora, di Terra, an atmospheric composition by Walter Branchi.

    Kristin Jones maintains both studio and public practices, working collaboratively across disciplines to create site-specific, time-based projects that frame natural phenomena against the built environment. With a deep commitment to public projects and the belief that art is a powerful vehicle for urban renewal and environmental awareness, Jones has spent her career creating large-scale collaborative works for the public domain. Her installations, works on and paper and time-lapse photography have been exhibited internationally. Jones holds a BFA in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from the Yale School of Art and Architecture. She is the winner of three Fulbright Fellowships and is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome. She is currently based in New York City. kristinandreajones.com

    Featured Images: ©Kristin Jones, Four Seasons of Still Lives, 2018, archival prints on paper, 5" x 8.5"; Suminagashi, 2010-2017, sumi ink on Japanese paper, 10" diameter; Ineffable, 2014, elastic thread and hardware, 120' x 80'


  • Wednesday, December 22, 2021 10:06 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    The environmental activist and artist Kim Abeles at the Park to Playa trail in Los Angeles, where her seed sculptures are installed.Credit...Joyce Kim for The New York Times

    Kim Abeles Turns the Climate Crisis Into Eco-art

    She doesn’t just make art about pollution, she makes art out of it. Now her “Smog Collectors” series is on view at California State University, Fullerton.

    By Jori Finkel

    Dec. 9, 2021

    CULVER CITY — When Kim Abeles had a studio in downtown Los Angeles in the mid 1980s, she was thrilled one day to see a deep bluish wedge appear between two buildings: a sliver of the San Gabriel Mountains, which had for months been obscured by the city’s notoriously thick smog.

    Abeles, a conceptual artist by training with roots in nature — she once lived in a grain silo in Ohio — turned her amazement into a project governed by rules of her own making. She set out to photograph that space from her studio fire escape every day until the mountain appeared clearly again. It took a full year and three weeks.

    She soon found other ways to approach the wedge. She decided to walk from her studio on Sept. 10, 1987, toward the mountain “as the crow flies,” she said, until she could actually see it. She had to scale barbed wire fences and cross freeways for what proved to be a strenuous 10-hour, 16.5-mile pilgrimage.


    “Smog Collector (One Month of Smog)” from 1987, in which the artist gathered smog particulate matter on acrylic. Credit: Kim Abeles

    She also experimented that year with a medium that ended up feeding some of her most important work over the last three decades. She cut an image of the mountain wedge into a vinyl sheet covering a plexiglass plate and set it on the fire escape for a month to gather particulate matter. In effect the smog “drew” the image, creating both a record of the pollution — she has called herself “a stenographer of the skyline” — and something meaningful, or even beautiful, from it.

    “How do you represent something like the smog, which always looks like it’s in someone else’s neighborhood — how do you show something so elusive and hard to put your finger on?” Abeles, who is 69, said from a clearing near the top of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City. With a grand view of Los Angeles stretching out before her, she sat on a bench next to her 10,000 pound sculpture of a manzanita seed, from her series titled “Citizen Seeds.” The series was made for the local trail system through a Los Angeles County arts commission and incorporates the handiwork of community members. It was an unnaturally hot day in November, and she pointed to a faint line of pollution in the distance.


    “Citizen Seeds (Ode to the Manzanita)” is one of six mixed media sculptures by Kim Abeles that are placed along the Park to Playa Trail.Credit...Joyce Kim for The New York Times

    “It’s the same issue with the climate crisis more broadly,” she said. “We need to identify the problem before we can begin to see our collective or individual roles in solving it.”

    Her attempts at making the invisible visible, or the abstract tangible, can now be seen in “Kim Abeles: Smog Collectors, 1987-2020” at California State University, Fullerton, the fullest presentation of her smog series to date. The art historian Karen Moss, while pointing out that Abeles has also done major work on AIDS/H.I.V. and domestic violence, said that she has been immersed in environmental issues for 30-plus years — “before other artists jumped in to do what we now call eco-art.”

    The Fullerton show includes little-known smog drawings on paper, fabric, wood, glass and recycled plexiglass, starting with that original mountain wedge, as well as her most famous series, commemorative plates of American presidents she made in 1992 by exposing each portrait to the weather for four to 40 days — her way of grading each president’s environmental record.

    Presidential commemorative smog plates include “James Carter in 8 Days of Smog” and “Ronald Reagan in 40 Days of Smog.” The plates were placed on a rooftop exposed to the weather for a number of days, reflecting the environmental record of each president; 1992.Credit...Ken Marchionno

    The contrast between Jimmy Carter, whose visage appears faint on the porcelain plate (left outside for 8 days), and Ronald Reagan, whose face is dark and smeared with particulate matter (40 days), is especially striking. As she noted, “Carter put solar panels on the White House and Reagan took them down.”

    While she’s better known for public art and community workshops than playing to the international art crowd, Abeles was featured in a 2019 show on the politics of environmental disasters at Moscow’s Garage Museum. She set out to make a new set of commemorative plates, this time featuring global leaders from Emmanuel Macron to Vladimir Putin. But a Russian maintenance worker who was spooked by Putin’s dirty plate wiped it clean of all environmental wrongdoing.

    Abeles remade it for the Moscow show, and it now appears in her California survey alongside other commemorative plates.

    Continue reading on the NYT's website HERE

  • Monday, December 20, 2021 9:00 AM | Callie Smith

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    December 20, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist Susan Leibovitz Steinman.

    “Working with diverse groups of local stakeholders, I conceive of, design and collectively create conceptual gardens that meld art, ecology and community action. I’ve been doing environmentally-based artwork since 1989-90, when there were few models for this particular work and little to no interest in “urban food as art.”

    “EOE (Equal Opportunity Eating) projects are living sculptural installations manifested as organic collaborative gardens. They model how to grow healthy food with little money and less land - critical survival skills for ecologically and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Counterintuitive to art world propriety, my EOE projects are most successful when disseminated, copied, adapted or emulate. Streetfront or in schoolyards, EOE works provide more than healthy food: they are a meeting place, an oasis and a point source for initiating economic organizing and revitalization for the larger community.”

    Sweet Survival, a site-specific work, honors a prominent Sonoma County crop that has succeeded over millennia, largely due to sweetness. On the Museum grounds, five commercially-grafted apple trees, mulched with pink quartz, are surrounded by nitrogen fixing wintergreens over winter, and planted in a pentagon-shaped raised bed constructed of five salvaged 11-foot-long French doors. The design refers to every apple’s interior five-pointed star, its five seed chambers, with five+ genetically diverse seeds. The exterior landscape mimicked a native Sonoma grass fieldstone meadow.

    Sweet Survival is a demonstration for educating passersby and Museum visitors about the genetically diverse seeds that one tree can grow. Steinman invited the public to collect seeds at Museum tasting events. Students from Santa Rosa Jr. College propagated saplings from the collected seeds at the school’s nearby learning farm. The wild saplings were then added to the Museum orchard the following spring. All trees were donated locally upon dismantling, spreading biodiverse apple trees throughout Sonoma County.

    Susan Leibovitz Steinman creates large scale public installations with multiple stakeholder participation to address ecological, social and economic concerns and community-voiced needs. Based in California, she is an “itinerant social sculptor” who travels globally to create street front, temporal, improvisational, performative artworks. Her EOE Projects (equal opportunity eating) model low cost green techniques and social strategies on public land for public use, food rights, natural asset protection, bioremediation, ecological revitalization and tourism for clean local survival. Steinman received her MFA with High Distinction in Sculpture from the California College of Art, Oakland/San Francisco. steinmanstudio.com

    Featured Images: ©Susan Leibovitz Steinman, Sweet Survival, 2006-2009.

  • Friday, December 17, 2021 12:15 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    Delicate Rainbow, 2021, 24”x30”, oil on canvas, photo courtesy of the artist 

    December 13, 2021 by Art Spiel

    Claire McConaughy: Nearby at 490 Atlantic Gallery

    Featured Artist

    In her solo show at 490 Atlantic Gallery, New York based painter Claire McConaughy features landscapes depicted in vivid colors and expressive linear marks. In Delicate Rainbow for instance, the painting plays on tension between horizontal, vertical, and diagonal orientations – an unexpected pale pink flow becomes a backdrop horizon to green vegetation spreading its limb-like branches diagonally upwards; on the top, blue-purple brush strokes depicting sky or water, lead the eye sideways, and then right above, a surprising orange linear brush stroke with the other rainbow colors hinted, stretch across the middle top.

    Can you tell me about the paintings in your show and what would you like to share about your process?

    The paintings in Nearby derive from visual experiences that are transformed though painting. They are not depictions of actual places even though my personal relationship to landscape is very deep having grown up in the Appalachians with abundant woods, lakes, and streams. I don’t exclusively work with landscape but have found a wellspring of information there and nature inspires me on many levels. The history of landscape in art, literature, and film, can make a contemporary interpretation seem daunting, but in these works I use landscape as a catalyst for the painting. The color, line, space, mystery, discovery, nuance, and drama that are all inherent in nature are also present in painting.

    Continue feature on Artspiel HERE

  • Monday, December 13, 2021 9:00 AM | Callie Smith

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    December 13, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Luciana Abait.

    Abait's work Iceberg - Red Sky, pictured above, will be featured as a billboard installation on Bedford Avenue, just south of Church Avenue, near Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York starting today through the end of 2021; the board is the eleventh in the I AM WATER ongoing billboard series co-sponsored by ecoartspace and Our Humanity Matters.

    "My art practice is informed by my own immigration history from South America into the US in the 1990’s. I faced many struggles and trauma in relation to assimilation and a sense of invisibility within the new urban environments that I had to adapt to. In my work, I portray my personal experiences in two series that I have been developing over the last few years that are comprised of metaphorical, poetic and “alternate reality” artworks."

    "In my Iceberg Series, icebergs represent me as a wanderer - shifting between oceans and continents. Mountains, in turn, are metaphors for the hurdles and obstacles I have had to climb along the way since I departed my native hometown in the 1990’s. This work invites viewers to reimagine nature through psychological landscapes that conjure alternate (or perhaps future) realities marked by adaptation and assimilation, isolation and displacement."

    "Images are sourced from personal photographs, shots of snowfields and mountain sides, textbooks, encyclopedias and stock imagery, connecting personal experience to a collective geographic history. I work over the surface with pencils and pastels erasing the photographic quality beneath, and lending urgency to these emotionally charged images.

    Natural landscapes and human-made utilitarian objects or structures are twisted, scaled out of proportion, or impossibly adapted to new roles where they coexist in a magical reality. The icebergs represent me as a wanderer - shifting between oceans and continents. Mountains, in turn, are metaphors for the hurdles and obstacles I have had to climb along the way since I departed my native hometown in the 1990’s."

    Luciana Abait was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and is currently based in Los Angeles where she is a resident artist of 18TH Street Arts Center in Santa Monica. Her photo-based two- and three-dimensional works deal with climate change and environmental fragility, and their impacts on immigration in particular. Abait’s artworks have been shown widely in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia in solo shows in galleries, museums and international art fairs. Selected exhibitions include A Letter to The Future at Los Angeles International Airport and Sur Biennial in California; Flow, Blue at Rockford College Art Museum and Luciana Abait at Jean Albano Gallery in Illinois; Nest at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania; and ARCO in Spain. lucianaabait.com

    Featured Images: ©Luciana Abait, Iceberg Series


  • Sunday, December 12, 2021 9:07 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Betsy Damon, 7,000 Year Old Woman, performance on Prince Street, New York, May 21, 1977. Archival Print. © Betsy Damon 1977/2021. Courtesy the artist. 

    ArtSeen

    Betsy Damon: Passages: Rites and Rituals

    By Alex A. Jones

    What function does art serve in society? There are always multiple answers to this question, all of which can be true at once. At different moments in space and time, however, certain functions of art have perhaps been extra salient. Art always reflects the creative (which is to say, the spiritual) needs of the collective. Thus art can illuminate historical consciousness, and vice versa.

    The contemporary art that I grew up with, from postmodern to post-internet, seems to have principally served a social function of deconstruction. You could call it collective reckoning. In a world made ever-more complex by globalization and the rise of mass media, the creative tools of artists have served to detangle its complexities. This analytical function is reflected in the common praxis of contemporary art: interdisciplinary research as a dominant artistic strategy, critical engagement with history and subjectivity, and the inextricability of texts from visual media. In short, a complicated world has been mirrored by complex conceptual art.

    But now, I am certain that a new paradigm is in the process of emerging, aligning art with a new social function. It comes forth in the context of collective crisis. Ecosystems are collapsing, the authority of capital forecloses all other priorities, liberal democracy has failed to assure human rights, and beyond the event-horizon of technological “progress” lies an equally alienating and inhumane frontier. These are not just the dooms of one pessimistic critic. “Humanity is failing,” read a banner over the River Clyde in Glasgow last week, an act of protest during the COP26 climate conference. The banner was flown by two German children, ages 10 and 11.1

    I believe their slogan is a sentiment shared by many artists of my generation, who now feel the deconstructive modes of conceptual art are insufficient. In times such as these, art must do more. It must evolve from modes of critique into modes of possibility, becoming an agent of change. In the broken world we now inherit, art must help us to heal. 

    Betsy Damon’s current solo show in New York successfully frames her as a pioneer of such a healing practice, and as a key artist through which to consider the relationship between art and activism. I first wrote about Damon’s work last summer in a review of the 2020 group show ecofeminisms, where her standout sculpture The Memory of Clean Water (1985) represented to me a sort of elegy for gallery-based practice in times of crisis. However, the current exhibition (curated by Monika Fabijanska) takes a retrospective look at Damon’s experimental performance works from the 1970s and ’80s that preceded the departure of her practice into eco-activism. The 12 projects on view include collaborative works of feminist theater, workshops and public meditations for women, and a Shrine for Everywoman at the United Nations World Conference on Women in 1980 and ’85. Collaboration, public engagement, and solidarity-building are central to all these projects, so that on the whole, the exhibition ties a powerful feedback loop between performance art and activism.

    Damon’s breakout performance series was the 7,000 Year Old Woman (1977–79). It started as a quest to discover the lost collective history of women. The artist painted her skin in white makeup with black lips, and covered her body in little cloth sacks filled with 40-pounds of colored flour. She cut these open one by one to spill onto the ground, gradually exposing her naked or nearly-naked body. Beginning with a gallery performance in 1977, Damon subsequently took the character to the city streets, staging public happenings in SoHo and on Wall Street. As she wrote at the time, “so complete has been the eradication of things female from our streets that we do not miss them.”

    Holding public space as the 7,000-year-old Woman was an emotionally difficult act, so much so that Damon said, “at a certain point I felt so exposed, I tried to put the bags back on.” Throughout one iteration of the performance on Prince Street, collaborator and painter Amy Siliman painted yellow triangles in a ring around Damon, creating a protective barrier while further underscoring her reclamation of space.

    At the time of the performances, Damon recalls, everyone interpreted the 7,000-year-old woman as a goddess image. The character doubtless recalled the mysterious Roman cult statue Diana of Ephesus, covered in little sacs like breasts or eggs (or offertory testicles). But it was a limited reading, for a dead fertility goddess hardly constitutes a credible threat to modern patriarchal order—which is exactly what Damon intended for the work to do. With her white and black makeup, the 7,000 Year Old Woman is more like a ritual-clown, one who both amuses and frightens her audience into the ambivalent space of transformation. In the documentary photos through which the work is experienced today, we see a range of emotions on the faces of the crowd: some laugh at the weird woman on the ground while some solemnly watch. The artist recalls some boys throwing eggs.

    Continue reading on the Brooklyn Rail site HERE



  • Monday, December 06, 2021 9:00 AM | Callie Smith

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

    December 6, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Erika Blumenfeld.

    "In April of 2011, after seven months without rainfall, the Rock House Fire ignited in Marfa and raged across the beautiful landscape of far West Texas, devastating the region’s environment. I was living in Marfa at that time and, in those weeks while the wildfire reigned, I began collecting material from the burned landscape—carbonized trees, cacti, dirt, animal bones, grasses—and photographed the charred remains and blackened earth."

    Graphite & Charcoal Trees: Las Conchas Wildfire (New Mexico 2011), 2013

    "I followed those devastating wildfires throughout the summer of 2011 to Arizona and New Mexico, again in 2012 during the wildfire season in New Mexico and Colorado and finally in 2013’s season in New Mexico. I have documented five major wildfires across of the southwest in this way, gathering burned material from the Rock House Wildfire (Texas 2011), the Wallow Wildfire (Arizona 2011), the Las Conchas Wildfire (New Mexico 2011), the Waldo Canyon Wildfire (Colorado 2012) and the Silver Wildfire (New Mexico, 2012)."

    Left: Wildfire Paintings, 2012; Right: An Offering to Stolen Nature, 2012

    "For the Wildfire Paintings, I hand-grind the burned debris into a fine carbon pigment and then adhere it to a gilded-edged panel, allowing the raw material to sit on the surface. Each wildfire pigment varies slightly depending on each location’s indigenous flora and fauna as well as how hot the fire burned. In the Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado wildfires the highly iridescent sheen across the surface of the black carbon tells the story of a very hot fire fueled by burning timber. In contrast, the Texas wildfire consists mainly of grasses and dirt and so the pigment is more matte and slightly brown in tone."

    An Offering to Stolen Nature, 2012, and Charred Earth: Rock House Wildfire (Marfa, Texas 2011), 2012

    "For the installation, An Offering to Stolen Nature, I filled hand-hammered Tibetan song bowls with charred trees, grasses, pine cones, and pine needles and displayed them alongside burned volcanic rocks, animal bones and cacti. All of these materials were collected from areas that were private, state, or federal land. At each location that I gathered debris, I was at some point evicted from the land, and in one case was asked to put back the burned material I had collected. This piece considers the innate sacredness of nature alongside the human desire to own or manage the land, exploring the question: has our land ownership in one sense stolen the land from nature? In stealing it back, the piece intends to re-sacralize nature beyond our possession of it.

    In the photographic works, I documented the thick smoke of the active fires and the blackened landscape in the aftermath of fire’s blaze.

    These works become forensic evidence of the crime of anthropogenic climate disruption - they are a eulogy to the wildfires, and homage to the nature they consumed. Yet, as carbon is both the building block of all life and is itself an artifact of light, these works also intend to look to the regeneration that is possible as we look for solutions."

    Blackened Forest: Las Conchas Wildfire (New Mexico 2011), 2013

    Erika Blumenfeld is a transdisciplinary artist whose practice is motivated by the wonder of natural phenomena and the relationship between nature and culture. A Guggenheim and Smithsonian Fellow, Blumenfeld approaches her work like an archivist, driven by a passion to trace and collect the evidence and stories of connection across the cosmos. Blumenfeld often works in collaboration with scientists and research institutions, including NASA, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, McDonald Observatory, and the South African National Antarctic Program. The photo and video-based works, installations, paintings, drawings, sculptures, writing and data science visualizations that result from her artistic investigations are the artifacts that express her inquiries’ reflections and weave an equally conceptual and formalist intent. Blumenfeld lives and works in Houston, Texas. erikablumenfeld.com

    Featured Images: ©Erika Blumenfeld, Wildfires series 

    Header: Smoke: Las Conchas Wildfire (Los Alamos, New Mexico 2011), 2012


  • Thursday, December 02, 2021 9:41 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    Shape Shifting, porcelain, 50 x 52 x 22 cm, 2020

    Interview by Blaire Dessent

    TL Magazine, Landscape’ Autumn–Winter 2021

    TLmag: While your work deals with ecological concerns of the planet, there is a  particular connection with the sea and coastline. Where does your interest in this come from?

    Harriet Hellman: I have always been drawn to the sea and coast, finding it a rich source of inspiration. My connection to the elements embeds itself in my making, both physically and emotionally. I am particularly drawn to wild coastlines, such as the Atlantic coast of North Devon where the ceaseless cycle of the natural elements and the engagement of time on the landscape, creates a visceral response in me which is both immediate and meditative.

    I find clay to be the perfect medium to express my ideas, using the tide and the cyclical movement of time as a convergence of thought and action. I am not looking for answers but enjoy the freedom and spontaneity of the journey, exploring hunches, experimenting with form and responding intuitively to the atmosphere and conditions of the moment. I would love to live on the coast but my family and work are in London, so I make sure I visit often, taking a car-full of clay and art materials and my camera, sometimes digging wild clay from the beach to bring back to the studio.

    The shifting tidal seascapes and the environmental impact of erosion and tidal destruction are all too evident on the south coast of the UK. Tidal barriers have been swept away and the coastline is constantly changing, serving to remind me of the power of nature and our powerlessness to control it. My work reflects my thinking around this as I let go of my unfired ceramics into the oncoming tide, surrendering it to the sea. The process of filming, painting, sculpting, collecting, interacting with the inter-tidal zone and documenting eroded coastal spaces, creates a visceral response in me, celebrating impermanence and imperfection.

    I am striving to capture place, space and time and the energy of the moment. Creating, intimate, ephemeral narratives with clay on the coast. This deliberate communing with nature, means letting go, and hoping for unexpected and transformed, ‘gifts from the sea’. Ceramic residues are fired , completing this alchemical exchange.


    Tipping Point, stoneware, porcelain, wood fired, 23 x 12 x 65 cm, 2020

    TLmag: You started making ceramics once you had already begun a separate career path. When and how did you get started working in ceramic? Were you doing something else artistic or was this a big shift?

    H.H.: I received a BA in Fine Art Sculpture and then followed a career as a prop maker and Art Director in the film and TV industry both here and abroad. I loved the work, but the hours were long and once I had a young family I was not seeing my children enough. A friend suggested I take an evening class in pottery, so I enrolled and was immediately hooked. I reduced my working hours and undertook a part time HND in Ceramics at my local Higher Education College, then decided to rent a studio and continue Ceramics in a full-time  capacity. My dream was to study an MA at the Royal College of Art, so I was delighted to gain a place to study there in 2018, this experience gave me the confidence to consider myself a professional Ceramic Sculptor.

    TLmag: As you started going further with clay, was it then when you saw a link to landscapes and the sea or were you already looking for the right medium to convey ideas and concepts you had wanted to explore?

    H.H.: I find the elements of water, earth, air and fire in ceramics, and the transformative power that these afford exciting and challenging. Clay is a material of change from one state to another and this gives me the opportunity to facilitate transformation, while reflecting on the balance and fragility of the geological landscape. I see clay as the conduit between myself and the natural world through the process of layering, tearing and building.

    The concept of letting go of the outcome and surrendering it to the elements was a response to seeing the effect of coastal erosion on the geology of the shoreline and my belief that everything is connected. Not only is clay a particularly suitable material to express those concerns, being of the earth, but the final fired form of the ceramic sculptures evoke geological formations. The deep history of the land feeds directly into the work it inspires. The title of ‘Anthropocene’ points to my concern for ecological fragility, which is powerfully present and concerning in coastal erosion and rising sea levels.


    Perspectives of Time, stoneware, porcelain, 38 x 40 x 20 cm, 2020

    TLmag: Would you talk about your process? It’s incredible how each piece seems as if it was peeled away by time  and nature so organically, the surfaces so textured.

    H.H.: I layer many different clays together in the studio, bringing to mind the layers of geological strata in the landscape. These layers are eroded and revealed when the work is left exposed on the shore or when the work is torn, scarred and peeled back in the studio. The pebbles, sand and seaweed imprint themselves into the work, which is then fired, embedding into the surface layer. Tearing up the layers of clay ignites an emotional and physical connection in me, embedding memories of the coast into the form and surface which is worn, torn and scarred. I multi fire and add layers of glaze until I am satisfied with the surface texture and colour, and intuitively know that the work is finished.

    TLmag: You recently had a residency in Denmark. How was this experience on your work? You developed a new way of firing?

    H.H.: My experience at Guldagergaard International Ceramic research centre in Denmark was very positive. I was able finish the work I had been doing on my MA in London, which had been suspended due the pandemic in March 2020. The studio was open 24hours a day and I was able to work with no distractions in a supportive environment with other International artists. I was also introduced to wood firing and soda firing, which were new for me and I found it really suited my work. I have continued with this method of firing whenever I get the opportunity.

    Recently I sailed around the South Coast of the UK with Sail Britain as an artist-in-residence, looking at the marine environment from diverse perspectives. A cross disciplinary crew from creative and scientific back grounds took part, studying environmental issues such as marine aquaculture, plastic pollution , climate change, and eroding coastlines. Highlighting the cultural importance of our relationship with the sea and the connection between ecological issues and society. This experience was invaluable to my practise and I hope to continue exploring opportunities to broaden my understanding of the natural world in the
    future.


    Uncertain Rhythm, stoneware, porcelain, 24 x 30 x 12 cm, 2020

    TLmag: How do you explore, as it says on your website, ‘human’ time vs ‘deep’ time, in your work? What does this mean exactly?

    H.H.: Scales of time are most evident to me when I am at the coast, when considering the ecological fragility of the ocean and the geology of the coastline. The contrast between millennial geological timescales and ephemeral human timescales, reflecting on the micro and macro is particularly present when I am working and responding to the coastal landscape. Considering the Anthropocene, the current geological age where human impact has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment makes me consider the scale of human time versus that of deep time. Recognizing our interconnectedness to the earth and the balance and fragility of our place within it is evident in my making, accepting transience and imperfection. Letting go, surrendering and appreciating the moment, stimulates my thoughts and heightens my awareness, opening new possibilities and directions in my work.

    This connection to the coastal environment is what drives my practice and I feel it most when experiencing the rawness of the Atlantic coast.


    London based ceramic artist Harriet Hellman is deeply inspired and influenced by wild coastlines, tides, erosion and the sea. She creates layered sculptural ceramic objects that feel as if they’ve been stripped by time and the natural elements, which in some cases they have as she often immerses her unfired pieces into the tides and films the experience of its effects on the object. Curved forms that suggest waves or shells, specks of sand and minerals compacted within cracked white glaze, flecks of colour or charred surfaces, the work seems to be influx, as if it was still on a journey within the sea and its current state is only momentary, an unexpected treasure discovered with delight yet holding secrets to harsher realities of the Anthropocene.


    Hellman was shortlisted for the Sustainability First prize in 2021.
    harriethellman.co.uk
    @harriet_ceramics

  • Wednesday, December 01, 2021 9:54 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace December 2021 e-Newsletter is here

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