Newton Harrison

Global Mapping: Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison

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Ronald Feldman Gallery Home PageSierra Nevada, 2011
(installation view south gallery)
aerial photograph, digital mapping, pastel, oil, and ink
42 feet long x variable width

If you are in New York in the next month, this is a ‘must see’ show.

Press Release:

January 11 – February 8, 2014

[The Harrisons’] work is a prime example of the potential of ecoart to create knowledge that promotes cultural change. Ruth Wallen, Leonardo XLV, no. 3, 2012

Helen Mayer Harrison & Newton Harrison are the first recipients of the Corlis Benefideo Award for Imaginative Cartography, presented at the Annual Meeting of the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) on October 9, 2013 in Greenville, South Carolina.

Ronald Feldman Fine Arts will exhibit Global Mapping, an overview of the life-long work of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, pioneers of ecologically-oriented art, whose visionary proposals have influenced long-term public policy in the United States and abroad. For more than forty years, the Harrisons’ expansive practice, realized in collaboration with experts from other disciplines and often commissioned by government and art institutions, has been to map out specific geographical areas at ecological risk to encourage public discourse and community involvement. Their impassioned works serve as both a meditation on global ecology and also as a futuristic vision, often with proposals for environmental change and recovery.

The Harrisons’ mapping – on large wall panels and synthesized with aerial photographs and narrative text of Socratic reasoning – dominates the exhibition space. The artworks are selected from large-scale installations of projects from the early seventies to the present. Similar in appearance to the wall panels, a floor panel allows the viewer to walk on a topographical map of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, a work from Force Majeure, the Harrisons’ current on-going series which addresses the effects of global warming on an unprecedented scale.

Earlier works, From The Lagoon Cycle (1974-1984), Law of the Sea Conference from the 1976 Venice Biennale, and Baltimore Promenade (1981), focus on watershed restoration, agricultural and forestry issues, and urban renewal, as well as providing a history of the Harrisons’ engagement with the topic of global warming.

Reflecting the Harrisons’ international perspective and the scale of their research, the exhibition includes projects that study the eco-systems of large bodies of water from around the world: the Sava River in former Yugoslavia, the Yarkon River in Israel, and the Salton Sea and the Bays at San Francisco in the state of California. Their titles often incorporate visual metaphor to define and unify the large geographical areas under consideration: A Vision for the Green Heart of Holland, Peninsula Europe, Greenhouse Britain, and Tibet is the High Ground.

Helen Mayor Harrison and Newton Harrison, Emeriti Professors in the Visual Arts at the University of California at San Diego and currently research professors at University of California at Santa Cruz, have been represented by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts since 1974. The recipient of numerous awards, they delivered the convocation address at the College Art Association 100th Year Anniversary Conference in 2011. They have exhibited internationally, and their work is in the collections of many public institutions including The National Museum of Modern Art, The Pompidou Center, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art.

Ronald Feldman Gallery Home Page.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.
It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
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The Harrison Studio presents Wilma the Pig – YouTube

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Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison tell us the story of the original Hog Pasture and why it matters that there is a pig in the MOCA Exhibition Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974.

To understand the relationship of Hog Pasture (1970-71) as #1 of the Survival Pieces to the larger scale works such as The Lagoon Cycle (1974-1984), The Endangered Meadows of Europe (1994) and Peninsula Europe (2000-03) it’s useful to look at the text Harrisons – On the Survival Pieces 1970-72 which was published in the catalogue of the Radical Nature exhibition a couple of years ago,

It shows how a life of making art is a life of learning.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.
It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
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Continuous Cover Forest Policy

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Cathy Fitzgerald has just blogged about the The Green Party in Ireland who have just launched it’s Forest Policy (read the press release here).  This new Policy argues that

“Ireland’s public forests are at a point where, non clearfell, continuous cover forest systems need to be introduced and supported to fully realise the full long term economic, environmental and amenity values of Ireland’s forests.”

Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison would, we are sure, endorse this – it’s the sort of Policy that they were proposing in amongst other works, the Serpentine Lattice.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.
It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
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Time of the Clock, Time of Encounter

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If practitioners of environmental and ecological arts have become expert in the critique of spatial politics and practices, should they also be able to develop and use critiques of time?

ecoartscotland is a partner in an AHRC funded workshop programme entitled Time of the Clock, Time of Encounter. This forms part of a cluster of research projects focused on the theme ‘Connected Communities’.

The ‘Time of the Clock, Time of Encounter’ project has been put together by:

ecoartscotland, Woodend Barn, Encounter Arts and Holmewood School are community partners.

The aim of the project is to destabilise assumptions about temporality and to activate alternatives. The group believe that the arts and humanities have particular forms of knowledge around temporality that are of potential use to communities (e.g. those directly involved as well as in the wider sense).

There are some key experiences related particularly to the arts which are known, but perhaps not activated as tools of critique, such as ‘nunc stans’ (the experience of time standing still), ‘flow’ time when the process takes over all sense of time. But we should also note Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison’s use of ‘the urgency of the moment’, that sense of a particular time when culture is maleable, when new stories of futures can be imagined. In contrast Elaine Scarry’s discussion of pain and the loss of any sense of time is also relevant.

Perhaps one of the key cultural projects which focused on temporality was Futurism, and we now have its corollary, the Slow movement.

Amy Lipton recently posted a question to the ecoartnetwork asking artists to highlight projects which are open to the public during June 2012. Her intention was to make this information available to the Outreach Officer at the Environmental Protection Agency for inclusion in a calendar associated with the White House Initiative ‘Great Outdoors Month’.

The question is of course driven by ‘The Time of the Clock’ (or at least the calendar), but the example provokes reflection on temporality in relation to ecoart projects.

We might offer a number of other questions which might relate to clock/calendar as well as encounter:

How long did the project take?

What experience of time does the work encourage in the minds of those involved?

Ecoart projects tend to assume the wider agency of other species and systems – what is their relationship with temporality?

Did any of the artists in any way attempt to use creative strategies to affect community sense of temporality?

Are these projects ever ‘closed’ in other than a practical sense of visiting them?

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
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Pioneering Future Figures: The Harrisons

In the eco-art world there are few folks as significant as the collaborative duo of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison (known generally as The Harrisons). Originators of a whole systems perspective in the eco-art movement, they have worked for the past four decades with biologists, ecologists, architects, urban planners and other artists to initiate collaborative dialogues to uncover ideas and solutions which support biodiversity and community development. They work within systems for systems. It’s the future folks and their ideas, while fresh, are as old as humanity.

Can we survive and thrive with beauty and grace?

This is part of a theme that really interest me. The very oldest of human concepts informing our new and unsettling future. Wednesday, June 10, 2009, for example, [sorry: mini plug] the very cool folks at The Long Now Foundation and the new sparkly green David Brower Center in Berkeley, are hosting a talk with the Harrisons (introduced by futurist Paul Saffo). It’s a look at The Harrisons from a 10,000 year perspective. Most art today will be dust or landfill, which is fine, but what did it accomplish that the Earth would notice? Was it worth the big holes dug into hillsides and the CO2 and toxic effluents, fuel and resins? Lots of people beginning to picture what this new world would look like in every discipline and long term planning as art to knit it together is essential. We need more long term art and it’s not about using Archival materials.

Go to the Green Museum

ecoartspace news and events

Many new things are percolating at ecoartspace since our benefit meeting. Simon Draper of Habitat for Artists fame will be installing one of his shed sculptures at the newly renovated ecoartspace office at 53 Mercer Street in January/Feb 09. Several events are in the planning stages now, such as an artist’s talk with eco art pioneers Helen and Newton Harrison to coincide with their January exhibition at Ronald Feldman Gallery just down the block. Also being planned is a special fundraising event with singer Dar Williams to benefit ecoartspace and Habitat for Artists. Upcoming curatorial projects will include a summer 09 exhibition at The Fields Sculpture Park/Art Omi, FieldWorkers will focus on artists’ projects that examine rural issues such as farming, growing and distributing food. Also Out of the Blue will open in February at Bergen Community College in New Jersey. This exhibition’s focus is on weather and its relationship to the creative process and was curated in 2006 by Joy Garnett, Joy Episalla and Amy Lipton for Abington Art Center. Tricia Watts departs next week for India to join the 48 Degrees Celsius Public Art Ecology conference in Delhi. Watts will also speak in February at the CAA annual conference in Los Angeles on land ethics in contemporary land art. Stay tuned for updates and further information on all of the above. Images: Above; Helen and Newton Harrison, Greenhouse Britain, Simon Draper, Habitat for Artists, Poet’s Walk, Rhinebeck, NY
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