EcoArtSpace

Citizen Seeds: A Public Art Project by Kim Abeles

Citizen Seeds: A Public Art Project by Kim Abeles

by Alicia Vogl Saenz

A crane slowly lifts Kim Abeles’ large sculpture of a Coast Live Oak seed into the October night sky. The full moon glows behind clouds, Los Angeles city lights sprawl out in a stunning view. Abeles, an installation crew, a truck driver, a photographer, a park ranger, a county public art manager, and me are at the top of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, a California State Park and one of the sites of Abeles’ public art project Citizen Seeds. The park is surprisingly busy at night, especially groups of runners. I’m helping the ranger redirect people and answer questions so that Abeles and the crew won’t be interrupted. The crane arcs over the entrance to the trail, trees and bushes, then hovers over the concrete base dug into the ground to support the sculpture. Although the equipment is enormous, it is not noisy. I can hear rustles of wildlife and the din of cars below. The installation crew has set up bright lights so that the crane operator can precisely place the seed. The ground crew help with navigation, then secure the sculpture with adhesive. Once installed, this six-foot in length, ten-thousand-pound concrete Coast Live Oak seed appears to have randomly fallen next to the trail from an enormous tree. Kim Abeles is beaming with joy.    

Installation at Site 5 of the Coast Live Oak seed.
Installation at Site 5 of the Coast Live Oak seed. The ground crew is navigating the sculpture placement. Nighttime Photos by Alicia Vogl Saenz.

 Citizen Seeds is a series of six sculptures placed in various locations along three miles at the start of the Park to Playa trail. The sculptures are mixed media and portray six plants native to Southern California: Sugar Pine, California Black Oak, Coast Live Oak, Bladderpod, Black Walnut, and Manzanita. Abeles designed the seeds to have a visual presence from afar (sizes range from 6’ to 8’) and serve as a meeting place for trail users. The top of each seed appears to be split open, revealing a map and other design elements. Each map is fashioned in bronze, indicates its location on the trail, and includes the word “Here”. The sculptures then become wayfinding objects.

Detail of Site 5. Photo by Ken Marchionno.

“Here” also invites the viewer to slow down for a moment and take in the power of finding themselves immersed in nature while being in the center of urban Los Angeles. Walking has held a special space in Abeles’ artwork. She often walks, plotting areas and incorporates cityscape horizons to her projects and community or classroom workshops. Normally we pass by quickly in our cars. Walking offers participants a fresh viewpoint. Abeles writes in her description of Citizen Seeds: “When walking or stopping for a moment along a trail, we can imagine that there is no beginning or end, rather, a journey’s continuum.”  

Interior of the Coast Live Oak seed at Site 5. Photo by Ken Marchionno.

Each seed is unique and features differing design elements. Abeles writes: “The seed interiors speak to the metaphors of personal growth, the journeys we share, and our relationship within nature.” For example, at site 3, located at Kenneth Hahn Park, cast concrete medallions surround the edge of the interior. The medallions were designed by community members in a workshop led by Abeles and are their symbols of growth and journey. The community artists’ names are included in a plaque next to the sculpture.

Site 3, Bladderpod seed. Photo by Ken Marchionno.

Site 4 is a California Black Oak seed and is located near the new La Cienega Pedestrian Bridge and the Stoneview Nature Center. Disks of local animal and bird tracks encircle the seed. Tracks made by squirrels, red tail hawks, coyotes, and other wildlife. A concrete relief blueprint of the nature center represents “tracks” left by humans. The first time I saw this seed, I ran my hands along the disks and imagined all the critters. The large scale of each seed made me imagine a bird’s eye or squirrel’s view of a seed. Or, even perhaps, a lizard’s perspective.

Site 4, California Black Oak seed. Image of interior and labeled details of each animal track. Photo by Ken Marchionno.

 Citizen Seeds is an exemplary public art installation. It has many facets that serve the user. The practical—a meeting place, wayfinding, mapping. Aesthetic—the seeds and their interiors are gorgeous. Impart knowledge and inspire curiosity—Southern California native flora and fauna, community values. Reflection and mindfulness—reminder to slow down, and be “here”. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that creating memories with those we love, respecting human life, and being present in the now are essential to a well lived and joyful life. Interacting with Kim Abeles’ Citizen Seeds inspires me (and I hope you) to remember that simple acts like walking in nature and greeting those I pass—animal, plant, people—can make your day meaningful.

What simple act gives you joy?

Site 1, Sugar Pine. Photo by Ken Marchionno

Alicia Vogl Saenz is a poet, Manager of Family Programs at Los Angeles County Museum in California, meditation instructor, bread maker, yarn lover who brings her love of Los Angeles, mixed immigrant background (ecuaczech) and queer identity to her writing and teaching. She blogs at www.aliciabird.me

(Top image: Site 6, detail of Manzanita interior overlooking downtown Los Angeles, California. Photo by Ken Marchionno.

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ecoartapace was conceived in 1997 by Patricia Watts in Los Angeles. In 1999, Watts partnered with east coast curator Amy Lipton, operating as a nonprofit under the umbrella of SEE, the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in California. 2019 marked twenty years that Watts and Lipton have curated art and ecology programs, participating on panels and giving lectures internationally. Combined, they have curated over sixty art and ecology exhibitions, many outdoors in collaboration with artists creating site-specific works. They have worked with over one thousand artists from across the United States, and some internationally. Starting 2020, ecoartspace became an LLC membership organization based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

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Preciousness Once Disposed, Reimagined: Johanna Tornqvist

Interview by Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

Johanna Tornqvist applies her studies in folklore and Swedish traditions to contemporary issues related to waste materials and ecological degradation. Her work has expanded to explore the health care industry by including pill packets as material. She uses her Swedish surroundings as well as her international experiences to draw parallels between aesthetics and contemporary lifestyle related issues. Both elaborate and haunting, her fashions sit at the precipice of an industry shrouded in ecological and ethical issues and solutions related to material choice. 

“Vingklippt” (2014), Photo: Fredrik Sederholm

what does the human of today have a superfluous of? Trash.

In your work, you create precious wearable objects out of disposed materials. What was your inspiration to begin this work?

I was educated as a fashion designer in the 80’s, but soon left the fashion industry as I could not cope with their ethics. Further on, I worked with craft in different materials, and I became more and more interested in the ecological and ethical aspect of the fashion industry and wanted to merge this with my craft.

After my grandmother passed away, I found in her belongings all kinds of materials that she had collected over the years, as you did in the old times. These included buttons, ribbons and laces from old clothes and bedclothes. I thought to myself: she grew up in a time where everything was reused but grew old in a time when everything is bought new. I saw her collecting these objects as treasures and I wanted to make something out of them. Since they were only small and uneven pieces, the work became jewelry.
Later on, I became more and more radical in my thinking: what happens if I use only the material that we have nearby, as we used to in the old times? Back then it was wool, wood or clay, but what does the human of today have a superfluous of? Trash.

“Side Effects” (2017), Photo: Tomas Bjorkdal

I reflected upon how we sometimes need these medications to survive, or to as a way to have a tolerable existence, or just to cope with a modern way of life.

And nearby materials are so wide ranging! Recently, you have expanded this project to include medical waste materials. How have you forged the connection between jewels and daily medication, a life-saving necessity for many?

The project Side Effects came at first from the fact that there is an enormous amount of overabundance of disposable materials in the health care industry. As a result of my interest in waste management, I decided to dive into the world of disposable material related to healthcare. This was “in” before the pandemic, but it was very difficult to get hold of material because of potential contamination risk. So, the material I was able to access was medical trash we have in our households, mostly blister packs.
Due to illness in my proximity that I was personally affected by, I was aware of both the advantages and disadvantages of medication. I reflected upon how we sometimes need these medications to survive, or to as a way to have a tolerable existence, or just to cope with a modern way of life. Those little pills many of us take, are essential in many people’s lives. But there is a lot of disposable material around them and also a lot of transportation costs due to all the air around the blister packs. Medication and chemicals are also prominent in our oceans and in our drinking water. We are beginning to grip more and more the impact these have on our lives in many different aspects.

“Celestial Twin: röd kopia” (2012)

Nowadays I don´t choose my materials, I use what there is.

Your fashions often include bright and crocheted or knitted materials or wearable decorations that are reminiscent of folkloric Swedish aesthetics. How have your travels and historical research influenced the style you are creating? Is there something specific in the culture that interests you in the connection to upcycling?

I have always been inspired by folklore from all over the world. And also surprised by the similarity of many ornamental traditions in many countries even if they exist on opposite sides of the planet.

Recycling and upcycling have always been part of craft in folklore traditions and are considered a natural way of using materials. It is the present time´s way of exploiting and using up natural resources that is not normal.

My previous work had a lot of inspiration from different folkloristic traditions. But my work nowadays is more focused on the material I get and find and how I can embellish and make a nonprecious material precious. Nowadays I don´t choose my materials, I use what there is.

“Project Precious Trash” (2016), Photo: Fredrik-Sederholm

It is in the way you handle the material, that you make it precious.

The work you do is a wonderful example of upcycling rather than recycling as it gives the disposed objects a more precious life than when they started. How are you responding to the sustainability of the fashion industry?

Project Precious Trash was a project I made about clothes and consumption where I highlighted different aspects of the fashion industry. It’s a really dirty business, as many are increasingly aware, both in ethics as well as ecological and social sustainability. My aim has always been – how can we embrace glamor and adornment but still be part of a sustainable lifestyle?

For many years I have worked with the aspect of what we see as precious versus what we see as useless. And how our point of view has changed over the years.

I´m also interested in the aspect of craft and how today´s humans have largely lost their skills to work with their hands. Only the work of the brain is promoted. In this part of the world, we have therefore become completely dependent on what is produced at the other side of the world.

By using trash materials, I want to change focus from the material away from whether it is precious or not. Instead, I would like to highlight the work of the hands. It is in the way you handle the material, that you make it precious.

Johanna Tornqvist

(Top image: “Project Precious Trash” (2016), Photo: Fredrik Sederholm)

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ecoartapace was conceived in 1997 by Patricia Watts in Los Angeles. In 1999, Watts partnered with east coast curator Amy Lipton, operating as a nonprofit under the umbrella of SEE, the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in California. 2019 marked twenty years that Watts and Lipton have curated art and ecology programs, participating on panels and giving lectures internationally. Combined, they have curated over sixty art and ecology exhibitions, many outdoors in collaboration with artists creating site-specific works. They have worked with over one thousand artists from across the United States, and some internationally. Starting 2020, ecoartspace became an LLC membership organization based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

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Member Spotlight: Aviva Rahmani

This week we recognize the work of artist Aviva Rahmani.

“Working with others across disciplines to effect ecological restoration and change environmental policy with art is a hallmark of my practice. I have engaged with both the scientific and the legal aspects of change to explore environmental justice grounded in environmental science to change systems. The most recent expression of that concern in my work has been The Blued Trees Symphony (2015-present), a series of installations across North America. That work has been realized with teams of local activists in corridors where fossil fuel infrastructure have been planned and in international venues to replace anthropocentric models with models from art which are more appropriate to the Anthropocene era.”

Blue Trees Symphony is a spatial and acoustic outdoor installation across North America, embodying trigger point theory. The installation covers many miles of proposed pipeline expansions, exploring how art, science, and law can change environmental policies about fossil fuels. The installation is composed of trees marked with a painted vertical sine wave. Each marked tree is GPS located, indicating an aerial musical score for an overture. Using copyright law, the artwork on the trees is protected, subsequently protecting the land from eminent domain takings for pipeline development.

The Blued Trees Symphony launched on the Summer Solstice, June 21, 2015, with an overture in Peekskill, New York. It is now installed in many miles of proposed pipeline expansions. Individual trees were painted and musical variations of the score were performed to echo the theme of connectivity to all life. The paint for each vertical sine wave is a casein slurry of nontoxic ultramarine blue and buttermilk that grows moss (based on a Japanese gardening technique).

Blue Rocks (2002) was an example of what curators Amy Lipton and Sue Spaid termed an ecovention, a place where art intervenes in environmental degradation. Forty large boulders painted blue, drawing attention to an obstructed causeway on Pleasant River, Vinalhaven Island, Maine. The ecovention included the painting of the boulders by the river and a “wash-in,” which came as a response to being subpoenaed from the town to clean the rocks, to educate the local community about estuarine health. The project included GIS mapping. The site choice applied Trigger Point Theory. My task was to investigate how the restoration of this small site could have regional impact. It was at a significant confluence of ecotones (transitions between systems).”

Blue Sea Lavender (2009) was a series of events and performances in Maine based upon a mythical plant. The one-day event explored the loss of species diversity in the Gulf of Maine mediated through the narration of Blue Sea Lavender who has “lost my children, my family, my community, my home.” The event included consecutively singing Puccini’s Vissi d’arte in a public preserve over a six-hour period. The day before, large drawings of the mythical plant were created on the sand of two local preserve parking lots using branches, rocks and water, knowing that cars would destroy the drawings, as people have destroyed many species across the earth.

The event was a sequence of performances during the one-day “site-specific” show curated by Pat Nick on August 19, 2009. A subtheme of the show was the celebration of recently installed wind power turbines on Vinalhaven Island to serve the Fox Islands.

Aviva Rahmani is a Pioneering ecological artist who has worked at the cutting edge of the avant-garde since she committed to her career in art at the age of nineteen. She has devoted many years of her working life to teaching, inspiring, and leading others through her art to a renewed focus on ecological restoration as artmaking. Rahmani is at the forefront of her field in ecological art and exhibits, publishes, and presents internationally. She currently lives and works in Manhattan and Maine and has recently completed a residency with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council on Governors Island, New York. avivarahmani.com

Featured Images: ©Aviva Rahmani, “Blued Trees Symphony” (2015-ongoing), “Blue Rocks” (2002), “Blue Sea Lavender” (2009).

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ecoartapace was conceived in 1997 by Patricia Watts in Los Angeles. In 1999, Watts partnered with east coast curator Amy Lipton, operating as a nonprofit under the umbrella of SEE, the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in California. 2019 marked twenty years that Watts and Lipton have curated art and ecology programs, participating on panels and giving lectures internationally. Combined, they have curated over sixty art and ecology exhibitions, many outdoors in collaboration with artists creating site-specific works. They have worked with over one thousand artists from across the United States, and some internationally. Starting 2020, ecoartspace became an LLC membership organization based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

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Book Review: Ecoart in Action – New Art Examiner

Edited by Amara Geffen, Ann Rosenthal, Chris Fremantle and Aviva Rahmani

by Thomas Wawzenek for New Art Examiner

Ecoart in Action is a new book, published this year, that contributes to the growing literature on artistic responses to global warming and its consequences. While emphasizing the importance of artistic expression, this book also examines and illustrates the interconnection between art, science, and social activism and why the three are needed to work together to enact change.

Compiled from 67 members of the Ecoart Network, a group of 200 internationally established practioners grounded in the arts, education and science, this book offers pragmatic solutions to critical environmental challenges that the world now faces. The framework in this book is organized into three sections (Activities, Case Studies, and Provocations) that examine diverse methods on how to create critical strategies in relation to environmental issues. Each contribution offers templates for ecoart practices that are adaptable within a variety of classroom settings and community groups.

There are 25 activities that make use of various mediums such as art, photography, collage and writing that allow participants to not only reflect on their relationship with nature but also experience the dynamics of working with others in a group setting. Many of these group projects heighten one’s level of critical thinking while utilizing the imagination when creating art.

While many activities are designed specifically for either children or adults, there are some activities that can be enjoyed by both. A good example of the latter is a banner-making project. In this endeavor, participants who live in an urban environment learn about native species such as plants, insects and animals that play a vital role in an urban setting. The participants express their new-found knowledge by composing and painting banners that can be presented as artwork in the community. This activity not only educates people as to how nature is often taken for granted in cities and large towns, but also engenders a sense of community pride. A more ambitious activity, that is geared for students ages 8 through 17, is an energy camp where students learn the basic scientific principles about energy production and how our consumption of nonrenewable energy impacts the environment. The end result is for students to use their creativity and problem-solving skills to discover innovative solutions by building a fully operational solar sculpture or a functional prototype.

Continue reading HERE

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ecoartapace was conceived in 1997 by Patricia Watts in Los Angeles. In 1999, Watts partnered with east coast curator Amy Lipton, operating as a nonprofit under the umbrella of SEE, the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in California. 2019 marked twenty years that Watts and Lipton have curated art and ecology programs, participating on panels and giving lectures internationally. Combined, they have curated over sixty art and ecology exhibitions, many outdoors in collaboration with artists creating site-specific works. They have worked with over one thousand artists from across the United States, and some internationally. Starting 2020, ecoartspace became an LLC membership organization based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

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River Fugues by Margaret Cogswell for Open Rivers

RIVER FUGUES

By Margaret Cogswell

I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

Langston Hughes
“The Negro Speaks of Rivers[1]

What is it to “know” rivers? As an artist I have been asking myself this question for over twenty years. Ever since an artist residency in Cleveland, Ohio led to my encountering the burning river history of the Cuyahoga River, I realized that all rivers have stories, and to learn of their histories was to explore and listen.

Simon Schama, in the introduction to his book, Landscape and Memory, describes this kind of exploration beautifully:

Landscape and Memory has been built around such moments of recognition as this, when a place suddenly exposes its connections to an ancient and peculiar vision of the forest, the mountain, or the river. A curious excavator of traditions stumbles over something protruding above the surface of the commonplaces of contemporary life. He scratches away, discovering bits and pieces of a cultural design that seems to elude coherent reconstitution but which leads him deeper into the past. [2]

In this essay, I will focus on my research on different rivers, sharing the meandering paths which have led me to explore these rivers and my creative responses to them in the form of mixed-media art installations that seek to reflect the complex relationships between land, water, and peoples. To contextualize the impetus for what developed into an ongoing series of River Fugues projects, I will offer some personal history. Although I was born in the United States (in Memphis, Tennessee along the Mississippi River), I went to Japan with my parents when I was 18 months old and lived there until I was 13 years old. Coming back to the United States at age 13 was like moving to a foreign country. Although I was bilingual and spoke English as well as Japanese, I did not know this country’s history, or understand its culture. My early efforts to better understand this country were through the study of literature. This led to my efforts to explore the intervals between words and what cannot be translated, and eventually to my work as a visual artist.

Continue reading here Open Rivers: Rethinking Water Place and Community

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ecoartapace was conceived in 1997 by Patricia Watts in Los Angeles. In 1999, Watts partnered with east coast curator Amy Lipton, operating as a nonprofit under the umbrella of SEE, the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in California. 2019 marked twenty years that Watts and Lipton have curated art and ecology programs, participating on panels and giving lectures internationally. Combined, they have curated over sixty art and ecology exhibitions, many outdoors in collaboration with artists creating site-specific works. They have worked with over one thousand artists from across the United States, and some internationally. Starting 2020, ecoartspace became an LLC membership organization based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

Powered by WPeMatico

Member Spotlight: Cherie Sampson

This week we recognize the work of artist  Cherie Sampson.

“For over 25 years my artistic work has encompassed site-specific environmental performance, sculpture and video art. Many of the works have been created in wilderness, rural and cultivated landscapes in the U.S. and abroad, inspired and informed by the unique geographies, elemental forces, built environments and cultural connections of place. At the center of my art is the presence of the natural world, physically and/or symbolically, and that of my body within those spaces. My performances occur in sculptural installations I construct in nature or other environments, for events attended by live audiences, or ‘staged’ exclusively for the camera in the form of still and moving imagery.”

“A significant body of my work has been created in the boreal landscapes of Finland over a twenty-year period. In 1998, while living there for nine months, I initiated the making of video-performances, a practice that has continued to the present. These began as minimalist, one-take videos in analog format sited in diverse “found landscapes” (as one Finnish scholar described) such as mossy forests, arctic tundra and snow-covered terrain. Performing in glacially slow movement, my naked body became an extension of the landscape in an embodiment of temporality in nature – cyclical changes often not perceptible in the moment in gradual process, but as if after-images. With the advance of digital technologies these works have become more layered and mosaiced. While I maintain the integrity of the slow movement in real time in post-production, I now utilize more manipulation of the imagery using masking, mirroring and other techniques to further abstract the body and represent multiple gestures within a single frame. The bodies may appear at once human, animal and vegetative, reflecting patterns in the environment and contemplating the stirring and stilling of time through an interplay of fixed and moving imagery.”

“Other performance works have occurred in a variety of settings attended by live audiences. These may take place within sculptural spaces I construct of local and natural materials in the environment, installations in indoor venues and/or public spheres. The projects often require significant preliminary and on-site research as they are informed and inspired by local legends, origins stories or myths associated with the locations in which they are presented.”

“Classical traditions from both west and east have profoundly impacted my performance work, as widely varied as the folkloric “rune-singing” culture of Karelian Finland and the classical dance forms of India. For a decade I have been studying the South Indian dance form, Bharatanatyam. Its complex formal structure and mimetic storytelling methods have profoundly impacted my movement vocabulary in both the live and video-performance work. Currently I am working with the dance form’s dramaturgy in the performance project, “every.single.one” that portrays my recent experience with hereditary breast cancer. In many ways, this is a significant departure in my work due to the medical and autobiographical nature of the subject matter. Nonetheless, the environment still plays a vital role. During treatment, I continued to make video-performances in the landscape and documented the healing process that included walks in nature, working in the garden, forest wildcrafting and swimming in a northern Wisconsin lake – my first full immersion in water several weeks after surgery.”

Cherie Sampson has worked for over 25 years as an interdisciplinary artist in environmental performance, sculpture and video art. She has exhibited internationally in live performances, art-in-nature symposia, video/film screenings and installations in the US, Finland, Norway, Holland, Cuba, France, Greece, Italy, India, Spain, Argentina, South Korea, Hong Kong and other countries. Sampson is the recipient of a number of fellowships & grants including two Fulbright Fellowships to Finland (1998 & 2011), a Finnish Cultural Foundation Grant (North Karelia Fund), three Finlandia Foundation Grants and multiple internal research grants for artistic projects from the University of Missouri. She divides her time between the University of Missouri where she is an Associate Professor of Art and her organic farm in Northeast Missouri where she creates some of her art works in the cultivated and wooded environments. She is the current President of Artists in Nature International Network (AiNIN). Sampson received her Master of Fine Art Degree in Intermedia & Video Art from the University of Iowa in 1997 with a minor in Sculpture. cheriesampson.net

Featured Images: ©Cherie Sampson, “Burning of the Birch” (2018); “Limb to Limbs, Flesh & Home” (1998); “Let a Sleeping Bear Lie,” (2016); “every.single.one” (2017), Photographic series/performances for the camera; “Mettä Vuoti Kuivat Kuuset” (2012); “Tufiarte” (2014).

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ecoartapace was conceived in 1997 by Patricia Watts in Los Angeles. In 1999, Watts partnered with east coast curator Amy Lipton, operating as a nonprofit under the umbrella of SEE, the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in California. 2019 marked twenty years that Watts and Lipton have curated art and ecology programs, participating on panels and giving lectures internationally. Combined, they have curated over sixty art and ecology exhibitions, many outdoors in collaboration with artists creating site-specific works. They have worked with over one thousand artists from across the United States, and some internationally. Starting 2020, ecoartspace became an LLC membership organization based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

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Member Spotlight: Ulrike Arnold

This week we recognize the work of artist Ulrike Arnold.

“Earth has been the theme of my work over four decades, in a most concrete and tangible way: I use it when I paint outside allowing nature” wind, rain and sun ”to be my accomplices.”

Arnold’s paintings can be viewed as a tactile micro or macrocosmos. They preserve and structure a fraction of the skin of our earth from close up while also allowing for a perspective from outer space. They are a reminder both of the beauty and of the vulnerability of the planet we all need to protect.

“OneWorldPainting (above) is a dialogue of Earth from five continents including salt and sands from deserts, volcanoes and prehistoric caves, rock formations and river beds. It is symbolic of the deep communion of all the nations in the world. Two large canvases, are displayed together as a giant exclamation mark, a political statement to honor, preserve and protect the very soil on which all mankind walks. I have used colors from my trips over the past 40 years, minerals that glimmer and mud that provides a wealth of shades; reds, blues, yellows and greens. When these two canvas pieces combine, they create a harmonious and beautiful ensemble, a call to every individual and to all nations for peace and protection of our natural environment. A powerful statement to move forward.”

Arnold’s paintings are an open invitation to the viewer to connect to our planet, to trigger an awareness of our coming and going. They capture something of the beauty of the earth which has been resisting the onslaught of climate change and multiple crises. For 17 years, Arnold has also painted with meteorite dust, which she gets from a Meteor researcher, she met by coincidence. This material is witness to the origin of our planet in the solar system. Her paintings pay homage to the earth and its place within the cosmos.

Ulrike Arnold paints with earth, sand and rocks. She travels to remote places on all continents, where she paints in situ, exposed to the weather and the natural forces of the environment. She collects her painting materials and mixes them with a binder to paint her huge canvases. They capture the essence of the places, where she travels. Arnold was born in Dasseldorf, Germany and currently lives and works between Dasseldorf and Flagstaff, Arizona. ulrikearnold.com

Featured Images: ©Ulrike Arnold, outdoor studio in Utah; (3) Gif images are “Cueva de la Chulacao, Atacama, Chile” (2014); “Cordillera de la Sal, Atacama, Chile” (2014); “Valle de Arcoiris, Atacama, Chile” (2014); “OneWorldPainting”(2019); “Meteorite #04,” (2021); “Full Moon” (1991), Bisbee, Arizona, double-sided painting with earth and meteorite dust in the former collection of Dennis Hopper; below is the artist’s portrait by Petra W. Barathova.

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ecoartapace was conceived in 1997 by Patricia Watts in Los Angeles. In 1999, Watts partnered with east coast curator Amy Lipton, operating as a nonprofit under the umbrella of SEE, the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in California. 2019 marked twenty years that Watts and Lipton have curated art and ecology programs, participating on panels and giving lectures internationally. Combined, they have curated over sixty art and ecology exhibitions, many outdoors in collaboration with artists creating site-specific works. They have worked with over one thousand artists from across the United States, and some internationally. Starting 2020, ecoartspace became an LLC membership organization based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

Powered by WPeMatico

Member Spotlight: Chrissie Orr

This week we recognize the work of artist Chrissie Orr.

Orr is a co-founder of SeedBroadcast, a collaborative project exploring bioregional agri-Culture and seed action through collective inquiries and hands-on creative practices. SeedBroadcast holds the belief that it is a human right to save seeds and share their gifts, to grow food and share its abundance, and to cultivate grassroots wisdom and share its creativity. Engagement includes community based projects, installations, dialogues, creative actions, experiential practices and cross country tours with the Mobile Seed Story Broadcasting Station.

Seed: Climate Change Resilience is a community engaged arts project exploring seed, arid-land agri-Culture, resiliency, and climate change. Created by SeedBroadcast, a New Mexico based arts and agri-Culture collective, in collaboration with numerous New Mexico farmers and seed stewards, this project features an interactive public exhibition to inspire and activate dialogue around seed, global warming, local food, healthy communities, and the revitalization of bioregional agri-Cultural practices.

SeedBroadcast agri-Culture Journal is a bi-annual collection of poetry, inspired thoughts, essays, photographs, drawings, recipes, How-to’s and wisdom gathered together from a national call out to lovers of local food and seeds.  This journal supports collaboration and the sharing of seeds, stories, resources, and inspiration within local communities and between individuals, while also providing pollination through diversified regional, national, and international internet-media networks.

“Fodder Project Collaborative Research Farm hosted the first Meeting of the Seeds, a gathering of local farmers and gardeners who shared their saved seeds and gardens during Interviews in the Field. This meeting included a Roundbale dialogue, where we shared the Collective Seed Book, a culmination of photographs and statements from each participant. We also listened to each others’ stories about the 2011 year of growing local food, saving seeds, and coping with the regional water crisis and drought. We then sat down to a potluck dinner that included dishes made from everyone’s gardens and farms. At the end of the evening seeds were exchanged. Anton Chico, New Mexico.” 

Chrissie Orr is an artist, animateur and creative investigator focused on developing “a relational aesthetic around community and site with issues relevant to both.” Orr has created innovative, provocative community-based projects in diverse areas of the world and is recognized internationally for her pioneering work. She is a co-founder of the SeedBroadcast Collective and co-founder of the Academy for the Love of Learning’s Institute for Living Story and is presently the Academy’s Creative Practice Fellow. She has kept a journal for more years than she can remember, their broken worn spines line her bookshelves and contain her secret memory lines. One day she might share these. In her spare time she grows ancient varieties of corn and beans to learn new ways of being in this world and loves to instigate beautiful trouble. seedbroadcast.org

Featured Images: Â©SeedBroadcast, “Seed: Climate Change Resilience,” “Meeting of the Seeds.”

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ecoartspace was conceived in 1997 by Patricia Watts in Los Angeles. In 1999, Watts partnered with east coast curator Amy Lipton, operating as a nonprofit under the umbrella of SEE, the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in California. 2019 marked twenty years that Watts and Lipton have curated art and ecology programs, participating on panels and giving lectures internationally. Combined, they have curated over sixty art and ecology exhibitions, many outdoors in collaboration with artists creating site-specific works. They have worked with over one thousand artists from across the United States, and some internationally. Starting 2020, ecoartspace became an LLC membership organization based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

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Hearing the Invisible: An Interview with Anne Yoncha

Anne Yoncha Interview by
Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

Anne Yoncha speaks with the trees. Through biodata depiction using galvanometer sensors and speakers, Yoncha presents the experience of plants, peat and prairie grasses in an eye opening, often minimal, aesthetic. By presenting biodata in its raw form, she allows the environment to be amplified so that all of us can hear the stories of the Pines. Based in Oklahoma, USA, the artist works closely with scientists and composers to create multisensorial interactions between humanity and an otherwise invisible world.

Art allows us to see, feel, hear environmental processes that are otherwise invisible to us, operating at a different scale or a different timeframe.

“Succession: A Visual Score” 2019, sonified biodata composed with cello recording

Much of your work encompasses and visualizes existing issues and studies related to environmental sciences. What can art as a platform do that research alone cannot?

Art allows us to see, feel, hear environmental processes that are otherwise invisible to us, operating at a different scale or a different timeframe. We suddenly have access to a more direct understanding of an experience beyond our typical human one. Maybe we are able for a moment to experience some of the processes and pressures on a lifeform which is not our own. Maybe it leads us to draw parallels to our own experience (for example, our human death from embolism would be physiologically similar to a plant’s death from drought). Maybe it leads us to act, or maybe just to be curious. I think this open, questioning, expanded experience is crucial as we can increasingly access more information, because information doesn’t always lead to understanding. When understanding of our ecological problems is limited, artists have historically been successful in uncovering background narratives, shaping how scientifically declared emergencies are perceived and acted upon.

Artists have historically been successful in uncovering background narratives, shaping how scientifically declared emergencies are perceived and acted upon.

“Second Wind” 2019, Depicting pine tree wind velocity

In order to create this awareness, you often use technologies to transcribe environmental phenomena like in Tree Talk or Succession: A Visual Score or Second Wind. These pieces are embodiments of usually unheard environmental interaction. How do you collaborate or use tools as a bridge for understanding? What is this process like?

I first became interested in this idea of transcription in 2018 when I was playing with a galvanometer sensor and some Ponderosa pine seedlings. We had a room of artists and plant physiologists, using a synthesizer to make the plants sound, at one moment, like an uplifting orchestra, at the next, a quieter, mournful organ. Any decision we made about how to sonify the data was entangled with our subjective choices. In “Succession”, I wanted to explore this idea of reading and interpreting data about two plant groups in conflict. The drawing was my own reading of the place, the data overlay was the sensor reading. Then, I handed the project off to my collaborators, and they read the piece too. Now, as the red cursor moves across the video, the viewer is the last reader. In “Second Wind”, I was interested in performing data –wind data, in the gallery, in real time. We are so focused on collecting data, gathering it, analyzing it later. So, giving it a moment on “stage” and letting it go seemed like a bit of a radical act. Would we pay more attention to it, knowing we could only keep it for a moment?

Would we pay more attention to it, knowing we could only keep it for a moment?

“RE:Peat, Layers of Peat in Northern Finland, a Look and Listen” 2019

By performing data, you are letting the elements speak for themselves rather than through interpretation. As a result, much of your work is highly educational and revealing about the world otherwise unseen. Do you have a mission for this work? What has been your inspiration?

Media theorist Boris Groys wrote about the difference between the digital image file, which is always consistent but impossible to experience, versus the digital image, which we experience as a unique manifestation each time we open the file. I am interested in the distinction between the data itself and our experience of it. Philosopher Albert Borgmann’s “device paradigm” critiques how we consume technological devices and their outputs yet separate ourselves from their mechanics. The digital world has brought us so much connection at the price of so much detachment. I want to extend this thinking into the bio-art realm, building scientific and aesthetic understanding of how we consume ecological systems, while conceptually and emotionally separating ourselves from the damage we do to them. I also see my work as a way for me – and hopefully if all goes well, viewers also – to pay attention. Many of my projects are assignments I give myself to satisfy curiosity about how digital and analog processes work.

…the bio-art realm, building scientific and aesthetic understanding of how we consume ecological systems, while conceptually and emotionally separating ourselves from the damage we do to them.

Lab (2018), Pine Seedling Regrowth, Study and Sonification

So, you are acting not just as a translator between environments, but also between digital and material. Many of the materials you employ are machine based or highly tactile like cloth or painted paper. What appeals to you about this contrast between rationality and tactility?

Tactility makes us feel something! But in all seriousness, I first heard the term “data materialization” from fellow artist Courtney Starrett and it has stuck with me ever since. We can do more than just visualize data. The materials and processes we use can also add meaning and impact. This is fun for me, too, because it means I can learn new processes based on each place and ecosystem I’m making work about. I love this contrast between rationality and tactility, between subjectivity and objectivity, because it gets blurred once you really break down our methods of collecting and interpreting information. I try to make work which points out that slipperiness.

The materials and processes we use can also add meaning and impact.

Thank you, Anne, for a wonderful interview! I look forward to hearing where your work takes you next. Oliva

(Top image: “Tree Talk,” 2018, Ponderosa Pine Tree sonification)

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ecoartapace was conceived in 1997 by Patricia Watts in Los Angeles. In 1999, Watts partnered with east coast curator Amy Lipton, operating as a nonprofit under the umbrella of SEE, the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in California. 2019 marked twenty years that Watts and Lipton have curated art and ecology programs, participating on panels and giving lectures internationally. Combined, they have curated over sixty art and ecology exhibitions, many outdoors in collaboration with artists creating site-specific works. They have worked with over one thousand artists from across the United States, and some internationally. Starting 2020, ecoartspace became an LLC membership organization based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

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Member Spotlight: Betsy Damon

This week we recognize the work of artist Betsy Damon.

“Our world’s living systems are endlessly exciting and constantly humbling in their complexity. My skills as an artist allow me to center water as the foundation to all life. In my journey to understand water, my partner is science and my driving purpose is curiosity. I look through the mist to examine the vast expanse of interconnected living systems that contains you and me.”

In 1985, after a cross-country camping trip with her children, Damon found herself reconnected to the primal elements of the natural world –the sound of wind, the flow of water, the forest, the rain. This initiated the casting of a 250-foot dry riverbed, “The Memory of Clean Water,” which brought her attention to the invisible destruction that development was having on water sources. In the early evening, while casting the riverbed, Betsy looked up to realize that the stones of the riverbed were patterned like the stars of the sky, that everywhere were the patterns of water. She committed herself to learning everything about water, little did she know that 27 years later she would still be deeply entrenched.

Beginning with the creation of Keepers of the Waters in 1991, Damon has continued to work towards creating community-based models of water stewardship. Her work includes sculpture, teaching, lectures, and workshops. In China, she created the nation’s first public art event for the environment, and most notably the Living Water Garden, a world-renowned public park and natural water filtration model. In the US, she is continuously working with communities and grassroots groups, as well as completing art and design commissions.

Betsy Damon’s inspiration comes from extensive research of sacred water sites, and her curiosity for the biology and earth sciences that compose living systems. Always seeking new ways to articulate the complexity of water and engage communities in caring for this precious resource, Damon continues her passion.

Betsy Damon is the founder and director of Keepers of the Water, a nonprofit organization that encourages art, science and community projects for the understanding and remediation of living water systems. Forty years ago, Damon stepped outside her traditional art training and carved a unique path to work with the environment, communities, science and art. She was engaged in the women’s movement of the 1970s, where she founded No Limits for Women Artists, a network to join and support female artists. In 1985, while making a cast of a dry riverbed in Castle Valley, Utah, she decided to devote the rest of her artistic life to water. She started Keepers of the Waters in 1991 with the support of the Hubert Humphrey Institute. Damon received an MFA from Columbia University in 1966. www.betsydamon.com www.keepersofthewater.org

Featured Images (Top to Bottom): Â©Betsy Damon, “Mist Rising,” “A Memory of Clean Water” (1985), “Living Water Garden” (1998), “Principles of Water” (2019), “Sounds of Water” (2004).

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ecoartapace was conceived in 1997 by Patricia Watts in Los Angeles. In 1999, Watts partnered with east coast curator Amy Lipton, operating as a nonprofit under the umbrella of SEE, the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in California. 2019 marked twenty years that Watts and Lipton have curated art and ecology programs, participating on panels and giving lectures internationally. Combined, they have curated over sixty art and ecology exhibitions, many outdoors in collaboration with artists creating site-specific works. They have worked with over one thousand artists from across the United States, and some internationally. Starting 2020, ecoartspace became an LLC membership organization based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

Powered by WPeMatico