Short Essay

Monsantra

This post comes to you from EcoArtSpace
Patricia Watts, ecoartspace founder and west coast curator was recently invited to write a short essay for a gallery exhibition catalogue titled Monsantra published by TNG Gallery in Calgary featuring the work of Canadian artist Wendy DesChene and American artist Jeff Schmuki. The essay is online HERE. Since 2006 when she curated Hybrid Fields at the Sonoma County Museum, there have been numerous exhibitions and many artists creating work that explores our food systems. Most recently at the Smart Museum is Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art curated by Stephanie Smith, which closes June 10th in Chicago, and upcoming Fall 2012 Green Acres at the CAC in Cincinnati curated by Sue Spaid.
 

“Using GMO seed obtained from the Monsanto Corporation, artists Wendy Deschene & Jeff Schmuki have grafted genetically modified food plants onto remote controlled robotic bases, constructing artificial organisms with no clear heritage or future.”
The exhibition runs through June 9th, 2012.

ecoartapace ecoartspace is a nonprofit platform providing opportunities for artists who address the human/nature relationship in the visual arts. Since 1999 they have collaborated with over 150 organizations to produce more than 40 exhibitions, 100 programs, working with 400 + artists in 15 states nationally and 8 countries internationally. Currently they are developing a media archive of video interviews with artists and collection of exhibitions ephemera for research purposes. Patricia Watts is founder and west coast curator. Amy Lipton is east coast curator and director of the ecoartspace NYC project room.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

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CSPA Supports has launched!

The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts is pleased to announce a new initiative: CSPA Supports.

“The CSPA Supports grant program is designed to support the projects of our members as they consider issues of sustainability (ecological, economic, or cultural) in their professional work,” comments Miranda Wright, co-founder of the CSPA.

“Since founding the CSPA, it has been our goal to offer grants or commissions by re-investing a large percentage of any profit we earn back into the arts.   We hope this initiative will enable artists to work on projects that are meaningful to them, and projects that could impact the public’s perception of what sustainability means.”

Artists from all genres (and cross genres) are encouraged to apply, including those working in public art, installation, live performance, or digital work. Applicants must be current members of the CSPA.  Members of the CSPA receive a variety of other benefits, including an annual book selection, subscriptions to the CSPA Quarterly and Mammut Magazine, monthly e-newsletters, and opportunities to submit articles, essays, and information to the CSPA’s multi-faceted knowledge network.

Grants will support materials, creative fees, documentation, travel, and communications related to a proposed project.  International applications are accepted, and projects may take place anywhere in the world.  The application consists of an online form, short essay questions, and a proposed budget. The deadline for round one of CSPA Supports is March 1, 2011.

To join the CSPA, visit www.sustainablepractice.org/join-the-cspa

To apply for a CSPA Supports grant, and for grant guidelines, visit www.sustainablepractice.org/cspasupports

Encouragement of the Arts

I’m wildly excited about two books, one coming out this month the other next year – both are radical insights about what environmental change means for the human relationship to the planet. One is Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto and the other is Timothy Morton’s The Ecological Thought.

What I find so vital in their work is that they are strongly against the misanthropy that seems to underpin much of the dominant narrative around the environmental movement. To my mind, the idea that humans are stupid, indifferent and deliberately destructive is not only an inadequate account of human nature it is heartbreaking. It is heartbreaking because it is debilitating at every level. At a time when we most need compassion and creative thinking the very sentiments that block these – pervasive cynicism and conservatism – are prevalent. (I’ve used too many words beginning with ‘c’ in that sentence, I’ll move onto the letter ‘R’ for a while).

What roots the rigorous accounts given by ecological experts such as Brand and Morton is that people are hugely capable of complex thinking, adaptive living, resilience and resourcefulness. We have created this situation of environmental change so now we must rise to challenge of transforming how we think and behave in response to it. And when I read documents like Peter Head’s Entering an Ecological Age, and see speakers at the RSA like Graciela Chichilnisky, not only do these extraordinary changes feel crucial they appear do-able.

Drawing on Brand, Head and Morton, I have written a short essay for the Copenhagen exhibition RETHINK: Contemporary Art & Climate Change.
Here’s a bit of it:  Art and ideas are not timeless, they are historically specific. The uneasy realisation of our current situation is that we are part of an ecological system that we influence more than we previously thought was possible. We are not outside observers, we are participants; we engage and affect systems whether we intend to or not. … we are the co-creators of our environment. Yet we do not yet fully recognise ourselves as such. This is a revelation awaiting to be fully explored through the arts.

It is the beginning of some work I’m developing for the Arts and Ecology Centre on what the arts may contribute  in moving us towards an ecological age.  Some of the ideas are controversial. And as part of this, writer Josie Appleton has been commissioned to write an essay for this website, as her work sets out to explore fresh thinking about human capability.The Challenge of Climate Change: Towards a New Human Consciousness – is a ‘thought experiment’, as she says in her blog – so comments are welcome.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology