Introduction by Patricia Watts, founder of ecoartspace
During the zeitgeist of the new environmental laws that were passed in the United States during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Mierle Ukeles wrote her radical ecofeminist proposition Manifesto! Maintenance Art in 1969, which was a proposal for an exhibition titled CARE. She later performed her Maintenance Art, or unseen labor, titled Hartford Wash: Washing, Tracks, Maintenance, in 1973, washing and scrubbing the museum stairways by hand, both inside and outside the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, Connecticut. The performance was part of Lucy Lippard’s multi-venue show called c. 7,500.
Three years later, Kim Abeles created the homesteading handbook titled Crafts, Cookery, and Country Living in handwritten text. Abeles’ how-to-directions and recipes for living a self-sustaining existence in a rural setting included instructions for braided rugs, patchwork, macramé, natural dyeing, edibles, and drinkables for gifts, to name just a few examples. These early ecofeminist works pointed to the simplicity and thoughtfulness that’s needed, especially today while addressing climate change, each born out of the environmental and feminist movements that began almost sixty years ago.
The first word in the title of this book, Earthkeepers, was inspired by the Heresies Magazine Issue #13: Earthkeeping / Earthshaking: Feminism & Ecology (Volume 4, Number 1), 1981, which was co-edited by ecoartspace member, artist Janet Culbertson, along with several others including curator/writer Lucy Lippard and artist Ana Mendieta (1948-1985). The issue featured short essays including Culbertson’s text Ecotage!, the title being a word combining ecology and sabotage, which examined the use of guerrilla tactics to address environmental issues. Culbertson promoted that women should be ready to boycott or write letters, and to question any ecological exploitation with intelligent actions. The late Bonnie Ora Sherk (1945-2021) wrote about her then-current project Crossroads Community (the farm) in San Francisco as an “alternative to alternative spaces.” Other contributions and artworks featured were by Michelle Stuart, Christy Rupp, Mary Beth Edelson, and Patricia Johanson, among others. Heresies was an idea-oriented journal devoted to the examination of art and politics from a feminist perspective from 1977 to 1993.
A more recent workbook created by Tattfoo Tan, only four years ago, titled Heal the Mankind in Order to Heal the Land, was also a precursor for this book. Having written an ecoartspace Action Guide with Tan in 2014, titled S.O.S., it became evident that artists addressing environmental issues should offer up their creativity and problem-solving skills for the greater good; that their social practice projects should be replicable, by anyone. Tan has written two other workbooks since and believes object-making is a problematic goal unless there is utilitarian value; that it’s really about self-improvement or community capacity building to get to where we need to be, to an ecoconsciousness.
My former ecoartspace partner Amy Lipton (1956-2020) and I had discussed many times through the years that we wanted to publish an ecoartspace cookbook. Not even one year into the pandemic, Lipton passed away, and with the lockdown measures, we retreated into the kitchen for comfort. With this convergence, it seemed timely to create a handbook of recipes and remedies for healing ourselves and the places that we live. In a world turned upside down by a virus, created by the extractive practices of colonialism that has ravaged the planet for hundreds of years, the need to heal patriarchal violence is upon us.
In the following over 200 pages of contributions by more than 100 artists / ecoartspace members, there are also manifestos, essays, and simple how-to acts of love and kindness to consider. We invite our readers to find inspiration from this handbook, which presents the creative care of our members. This compilation is an ecoartspace manifesto with knowledge sharing at its core to help contribute to making the world a better place.
I’d like to thank Kim Abeles and WhiteFeather Hunter who reviewed the member submissions for this Handbook. Hunter brought her witchy perspective to the book, as a doctoral artist/ researcher in biotech and the occult, and inventor of human menstrual growth serum by bio-hacking her menstrual blood. She challenges taboos around women’s bodies in science research, and questions how “witches” possessing body and nature-based knowledges were persecuted as part of the transition to patriarchal capitalism.
Note regarding the title of this book: Heal the Man is a phrase that in this instance is more literal than in the Old English style. It is meant to refer to the active legacy of patriarchy and maleness/masculinity, which are intertwined with systemic racism and colonial extraction. These are deeply embedded systems or structures that have contributed to the demise of our interconnected relationship with the earth. As in Old English, Man means “person” or “human,” or men and women alike. Man, as it is used for this book focuses on the male aspects of being human, for all genders; the man inside us all, so we can begin the process of deconstructing what it means to be a man or manly in a world today facing epochal climate.
Design/Layout: Jane Crayton • iSTEMart.org
Front Cover Image: Susan Hoenig, “On Lenape Land,” 2022, black walnut on paper; awarded Indigenuity Prize by the Museum of Native American History, Bentonville, Arkansas, December 2022.
Back Cover Image: Mierle Laderman Ukeles Washing / Tracks / Maintenance: Outside, 1973 Part of Maintenance Art performance series, 1973-1974 Performance at Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT © Mierle Laderman Ukeles
Courtesy the artist and Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York
O Brother font designed by Graeme Walker. www.graemewalker.art/design
Member contributors: Abigail Doan, Adeola Davies-Aiyeloja, Ahní Rocheleau, Alexa Kleinbard, Alexandra Toland, Alexis Williams, Aline Mare, Alyce Santoro, Amber Stucke, Amy Youngs, Andra Ragusila, andrea haenggi, Anna Chapman, Anna Mein, Anne Beck, Anne Mavor, Anne Yoncha, Annette Nykiel, Beth Bando, Beth Johnston, Beverly Naidus, Bibo Keeley, Billy X Curmano, Bremner Benedict, Candace Jensen, Carol Padberg, Cesar & Lois (Collective), Chrissie Orr, Christine Costan, Christopher Kennedy, Christopher Lin, Christy Hengst, Cindy Stockton-Moore, Cindy Stocton Moore, Clarice Yuen, Cynthia Pannucci, Dana Michele Hemes, Danielle Giudici Wallis, Deanna Pindell, Eileen Ryan, Elizabeth Kenneday, Evgenia Emets, Fariba Bogzaran, Felicia Young, Forest Keegel, Fredericka Foster, Inês Ferreira-Norman, Jacklyn Brickman, James Griffith, Jane Crayton/daPain, Jane Marsching, John Sabraw, Johnny Plastini, Julia Adzuki, Julie Anand, Kaitlin Bryson, Kathryn Logan, Kathryn Moore, Ken Rinaldo, Kim Garrison Means, Kim Tanzer, L.C. Armstrong, Lauren Bon, Linda Stillman, Linda Weintraub, Lorraine Bubar, Lucas Ihlein, Madelaine Corbin, Mara G. Haseltine, Margot Lystra, Michele Brody, Navjeet Kaur, Nichole Speciale, Niku Kashef, Olivia Ann Hallstein, Pam Longobardi, Pamela Casper, Patricia Miranda, Peggy Cyphers, Perdita Phillips, Priscilla Stadler, Rachel Frank, Rhonda Janke, Riva Weinstein, Rosalind Lowry, Ruth Wallen, Salma Arastu, Sarah Lewison, Sehba Sarwar, Sheila Thompson, Skooby Laposky, Stacy Levy, Stéfy McKnight, Susan Karhroody, Susan Snipes, Susan Suntree, Ted Somogyi, Teresa Stern, Teressa Valla, Toni Gentilli, Tosca Terán, Wendy Brawer, William Gilbert, Zea Morvitz
Kim Abeles explores society, science litera- cy, feminism, and the environment, creating projects with science and natural history museums, health departments, air pollution control agencies, and National Park Ser- vice. NEA-funded projects involved a resi- dency at the Institute of Forest Genetics; and Valises for Camp Ground in collabora- tion with Camp 13, a group of female pris- on inmates who fight wildfires. Permanent outdoor works include sculptural Citizen Seeds along the Park to Playa Trail in Los Angeles, and Walk a Mile in My Shoes, based on the shoes of the Civil Rights marchers and local activists. Abeles has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, J. Paul Getty Trust Fund, and her process documents are archived at the Center for Art + Environment. Her work is in public collections including MOCA, LACMA, CAAM, Berkeley Art Museum, and Na- tional Geospatial Intelligence Agency. “Kim Abeles: Smog Collectors, 1987-2020” is a sur- vey exhibition of the environmental se- ries, presented at CSU Fullerton (2022) and CSU Sacramento (2023). Recent publications about her projects include New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the book, Social Practice: Technologies for Change, Rout- ledge Press (2022). www.kimabeles.com
WhiteFeather Hunter is a multiple award-winning Canadian artist and scholar, holding an MFA in Fibres and Material Practices from Concordia University. She is currently a PhD candidate in Biological Arts at the
University of Western Australia, supported by a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, Australian Government International Scholarship and University of Western Australia International Postgraduate Scholarship. Before commencing her PhD, WhiteFeather was founding member and Principal Investigator of the Speculative Life BioLab at the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology at Concordia University (Montreal) from 2016- 2019. Her biotechnological art practice intersects technofeminism, witchcraft, micro and cellular biology with performance, new media and craft. Recent presentations include at Ars Electronica, Art Laboratory
Berlin, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Royal College of Art London, Innovation Centre Iceland, and numerous North American institutions. WhiteFeather’s recent doctoral research into developing a novel menstrual serum for tissue engineering experiments was spotlighted by Merck/ Sigma-Aldrich for International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2021 as part of their #nextgreatimpossible campaign. www.whitefeatherhunter.ca