Puente Hills Landfill

Urban Sustainability by Jessica Kimmel, ecoartspace intern 2011-2012

This post comes to you from EcoArtSpace

The Urban Sustainability program at Antioch University in Los Angeles encourages a multi-disciplinary approach to solving issues of scientific and societal importance. The core requirements for the degree include courses in systems thinking, environmental literacy, social justice and a hands-on approach to fieldwork. The program also provides graduate study in urban ecosystem science, activism and advocacy, environmental education, sustainable practices, and research methods. A large component is our fieldwork studies– contributing an opportunity to explore and develop skills to our rigorous studies and the experience to prepare for our ambitious futures. In my first semester of fieldwork in 2011, I selected two site projects including ecoartspacewith Patricia Watts and Green Public Art with Rebecca Ansert, both out of Los Angeles.

During the 36-unit degree program, I am participating in a series of residencies that consist of classroom instruction, guest lectures and elective seminars. Antioch has a long-standing commitment to social justice in the community that has allowed me to consider utilizing methods and theories of social sciences toward solving complex sustainability related concerns. The class has toured the port of Los Angeles, examined L.A.’s publiclands struggle the beach in Malibu and hiked through Ramirez Canyon, toured Venice on bikes with Bikerowave, and visited the Burbank Recycling Center and Puente Hills Landfill. These tours have created a really valuable platform for the free exchange of ideas pertaining to making our contribution more sustainable.

Antioch’sUrban Sustainability program will operate as a vehicle for the study of urbanization and its ecosystemic impacts. As social scientists, educators and communicators, I believe we must similarly examine how environmental hardship is socio-economically distributed. Environmental justice, climate change and land use provide us with excellent context. In the multi-disciplinary tradition, I have long studied and admired leading environmental artists suchas Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter. I applaud how progressive-intellectuals have successfully used various mediums to communicate complex ideas in accessible terms. Adams used photography to capture the beauty of the American landscape and bring awareness to the necessity of its protection. Photography is one of my academic and personal concentrations and as a master’s student my hope is to create an intersection of creativity and activism to initiate lasting changes.

This year was also my first experience curating an art show. I was the student organizer of this years annual ArtisticUprisingat Antioch, which took place on November 18, 2011. It was such an incredible experience for me to have and has allowed me to grow in ways I never dreamed of. Working on a project of such importance to the campus and AULA community, continuing the tradition as the fourth annual exhibit, and leading my peers through a successful show has given me a sense of fulfillment and validated the direction I’ve chosen. The art show was started by Cindy Short in 2008. Proceeds from art sales and other activities at the event benefit The Bridge Program. Bridge provides a college education for low-income adults in the Los Angeles area, at no cost to the student. The program pays their tuition for 15 college credits with all other necessary expenses included: books,supplies, bus tokens, and even meals on the evenings of classes.

Through the opportunities Antioch has given me, I have been able to witness first-hand the impacts and influence art can have in support of a sustainable existence on the goals of urban sustainability. It is my hope to contribute my efforts to mobilize artists in the pursuit of spreading the message of environmental consciousness. I will also be exposed to professionals outside of science and academia that are working to promote the goals of sustainability by participating in the environmental movement. My goal is to encourage environmental discourse in the local community and solidify artists as relevant stakeholders in the environmental dialogue. Through project management, artist interaction and social media, I have a unique opportunity to contribute toecoartspace’s operation, success and continued legacy as an invaluable and effective environmental resource. I admire what ecoartspace stands for and am thrilled by their initiatives for promoting and reaching sustainability. I am excited to be a member of their team and hope that our efforts together can transcend social, economic and political boundaries.

 

ecoartapace is one of the leading international organizations in a growing community of artists, scientists, curators, writers, nonprofits and businesses who are developing creative and innovative strategies to address our global environmental issues. We promote a diverse range of artworks that are participatory, collaborative, interdisciplinary and uniquely educational. Our philosophy embodies a broader concept of art in its relationship to the world and seeks to connect human beings aesthetically with the awareness of larger ecological systems.

Founded in 1997 by Tricia Watts as an art and nature center in development, ecoartspace was one of the first websites online dedicated to art and environmental issues. New York City curator Amy Lipton joined Watts in 1999, and together they have curated numerous exhibitions, participated on panels, given lectures at universities, developed programs and curricula, ad written essays for publications from both the East and West Coasts. They advocate for international artists whose projects range from scientifically based ecological restoration to product based functional artworks, from temporal works created outdoors with nature to eco-social interventions in the urban public sphere, as well as more traditional art objects.

ecoartspace has been a project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in
Los Angeles since 1999.
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