EcoArtSpace

Documenting the Desert

mojaveproject.org

Written by Genie Davis

Captivating and inclusive, artist Kim Stringfellow’s latest documentary work, The Mojave Project, takes viewers on a compelling ride into the Mojave desert. Evocative images show us beautiful and lonely places, tourism in off-beat locations, the people who inhabit those locations, and the culture they create. It is both intensely real and dream-like, inviting us to step inside a world we might not otherwise see.

I’ve long visited many of the desert locations Stringfellow explores, and met some of its denizens. Her evocation of place is dazzling; it’s both a return for me and a deep dive.

According to Stringfellow, The Mojave Project “pretty much continues my interest in documenting culture, history, environment and geography of the American West’s arid regions.” However, she says it differs from past bodies of work because this time around she shared her documentation as she researched and produced it via a long-form blogging platform. That platform “allowed my audience to suggest tips or subjects for upcoming field dispatches or comment on past ones.” Prior to this project, she conducted and complete her research before releasing a finished project, whether that was an audio tour, a book, or exhibition. But the “open format” this time around worked well for the artist, who also began creating short documentary films.
 
She says “Another difference with Mojave Project is it is open-ended. Greetings from the Salton Sea, which was an overview of its environmental and cultural history from 1905, when the sea was last ‘created,’ concluded at its centenary in 2005. I did do an afterword for the second printing of the paperback in 2009, but kept the story to those 100 years.”

Stringfellow’s work serves as a connector between social and environmental practice, documentary work, and art. This coalescence came about when she realized that her interest “in human-induced climate chaos and other troubling environmental issues were just as, or more important than, the ‘art’ I was making.”

During graduate school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she recognized this impetus, and advisors encouraged her documentary work. “The writing came about because I realized that the photographs I was making required further and deeper explanations than what could be provided in a wall caption or even an artist’s statement. I felt that both my audience and I needed background info that was detailed and well-researched.”

The rise of the Internet’s research capabilities allowed Stringfellow to research from her office, rather than traveling to various archives, she relates. “Being able to easily work across digital multimedia also transformed my practice. The digital audio format is something I really enjoy, as it allows participants to multi-task while listening…I’ve always been interested in getting my audience out of the confines and limitations of the traditional museum into the field, so creative and critical audio mapping is a medium I continually return to.”

Her first such project was collaborative in nature. “Amy Balkin and I envisioned Invisible-5 (Amy was the lead artist for this project) as a self-guided critical audio tour along Interstate 5 between San Francisco and Los Angeles using the format of a museum audio tour to guide the listener along the highway landscape. The project investigates the stories of people and communities fighting for environmental justice along the I-5 corridor, through oral histories, field recordings, found sound, recorded music, and archival audio documents.”

The direct documenting of the project for participants has carried over, as has her continued collaboration with sound designer Tim Halbur, in projects such as the Jackrabbit Homestead audio tour as well as There It Is—Take It: Owens Valley and the Los Angeles Aqueduct, 1913-2013.
 
According to Stringfellow, more recently she’s hosted multiple field tour events for the Mojave Project, including a three-day bus tour for some 40 participants to locations in the northern Mojave Desert and Death Valley, as well as a single-day tour in the Morongo Basin/Joshua Tree. “I really enjoy bringing people together as a ‘tour guide’ to experience places I really love or feel outsiders need to be present in physically to gain a fuller, deeper understanding.” She adds, “The emerging conversations and interactions between participants that occur over the course of the tour become the art.”
 
The artist had also planned a collaborative performance event for the project, but it is currently on hold due to the pandemic. But, looking toward the future, those interested should sign up for the project’s e-mail list on the Mojave Project website.

Despite the variety of activities around The Mojave Project, Stringfellow finds the writing and researching perhaps the most personally meaningful, as well as her reason to spend more time in the region.
 
The Mojave Project is best if you spend some time with it. The idea is that you will begin to make connections across the diverse subjects that my contributors and I are delving into…I feel that a place can’t be truly understood by scratching its surface, it takes time and energy to do so.” She has spent almost six years on the project so far. “I am attempting to distill my first-hand experience and knowledge of this extremely complex landscape—The Mojave Desert—into a form that will allow the casual visitor to have a deeper and more nuanced understanding of this unique and varied ecotone,” she attests.

As both a Guggenheim and Warhol fellow, receiving both awards opened some doors for Stringfellow, she relates. “The Mojave Project was included in my Guggenheim statement of plans, so the foundation very directly supported this particular project. I teach full-time as a Professor at San Diego State University so having the time to focus on my research and work during a year-long sabbatical supported, in part, by the Guggenheim really helped a lot. It was great to be fully immersed in my subject both physically and mentally without distraction. Keep in mind that the Mojave Desert covers land in four states, so a lot of traveling is involved.” Additionally, the AWF funded the large 2018 exhibit at LACE and the two desert tours. Stringfellow also relies on grant funding through sources such as California Humanities, and she credits them as the reason she can do the work she does without commercial support such as advertising.
 
While she has a great deal of empathy for her subjects, she notes “I feel that my job is to provide a conduit or platform for sharing these stories. I simply enjoy doing so. The quiet images that reveal subtle details are what interest me the most now.”
 
One such example is a recent photograph taken at Gypsum Cave just east of Las Vegas. “This is a very sacred cave of the ancestral southern Paiute and contemporary Indigenous people of the region. Gypsum Cave was first excavated during the 1930s by a well-meaning but culturally destructive archeologist. More recently, it has been overrun and destroyed by thrill-seeking recreationists due to its proximity to Sin City. Ancient ground sloth remains dating back to 33,00 BP have been recorded here, as has the oldest fragment of a 9,280-year-old basket that is one of the oldest of its kind ever located in in North America.” But despite the preciousness of these finds, her photo also reveals “very contemporary Halloween decorations—a common RIP Styrofoam grave marker, a fake spider web that really makes that photograph work but also says a lot about how non-Indigenous users/observers of that space value or devalue it.” The photo itself can be viewed here.
 
Stringfellow’s work creates an encompassing view, wherever she goes. Prior to the Mojave Project, as she explored the Salton Sea, she spent time with Leonard Knight, the creator of the folk-art masterpiece of Salvation Mountain. “What I loved best about him was that he equated what he was doing as something for everyone and anyone—regardless of your religious orientation, or lack of it in my case. He said to me once that certain Christian denominations would try to get him to represent their “brand” and belief system solely. Leonard would have nothing to do with that. He said, ‘I don’t care if you are Baptist, Isalm [sic] or Buddhist, the Mountain is for everyone.’”

Similarly, Stringfellow’s own work is for everyone – everyone who wants insight into a rich world beyond their own, and an involving understanding into ecosystems, social constructs, and pure beauty.

mojaveproject.org

(Top photo: Kim Stringfellow, The Mojave Project; Image courtesy of the artist)

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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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The Ministry For The Future

submitted by Aviva Rahmani

Kim Stanley Robinson’s new book is, The Ministry For The Future. It is a long utopian novel that begins in our collective immediate future by tracking the consequences of environmental neglect. Starting from the Paris Agreement, he then tracks one woman’s life as the minister of the Ministry of the Future on a wild ride through economics, animal corridors and decreasing populations. Because it is a novel, he doesn’t need to be realistic as he meticulously details decades of work trying to salvage not only a manageable but a celebratory future. His initial view is dire. As the book progresses, he gathers momentum for vastly optimistic possibilities. I admire his writing, which combines solid science, flights of poetry and trenchant insights into human nature. He is less convincing in character development for me but more than makes up for that weakness with a lively thread of dialog which unspools as continual exposition. The most delightful aspect of his writing is not just the ease of his discourse between people but clearly with himself, as he pursues an imaginative line of possibilities only to crash back to Earth with a caveat.

It happens that much of the action unfolds in Switzerland, where I lived for several years and particularly Zurich where I completed my PhD so I found myself visualizing many of the locations he references. He seems enamored of all the good qualities of the Swiss, whom I found to be somewhat more complex and often problematic, much as the world he foresees turning to willingness, might be critiqued as a view through rosy glasses. The Switzerland I know, for example casts a blind eye on xenophobic racism. The scale of discrimination is comparable to the United States. The glaring connections between racism, immigration miseries and capitalism aren’t even mentioned in this book. The relative facility with which immigration is solved in his story lines, albeit it takes many years, is a noticeable reflection of glossing over those reflections.

The area of environmental science that gave me most pause was in his references to oceanic habitat, which doesn’t seem to interest him as much as the resurgence of land mammals, especially charismatic fauna. This bias creates a very photogenic backdrop for the narrative but in the context of his ecological arguments is a more serious elision than the dark side of Zurich. These elisions may be nitpicking because it is all written so beautifully. Publication was timed before the American presidential election, which I presume was deliberate and the opening passage is a horrific account of the consequences of American withdrawal under Trump, from the Paris Agreement.

It also happened that while I was working on my own work memoir, I carefully studied the structure of his earlier novel, 50 Degrees Below Zero, noting how he meticulously builds his arguments for how consequences unfold. He has a phrase in that book, that I’ve often quoted, to the effect that, ‘we are terraforming the Earth but we don’t know how.’ That is a good example of his astute observations. Both novels are heavy on good science, light on realistic solutions but they both effectively employ art to draw attention to the role of discourse in finding solutions to climate change. Both are good reads.

But neither one has noticeably moved a critical mass of the mainstream to budge the dial towards adequately shifting public opinion, as the Earth’s clock ticks down. If it had moved the dial in October 2020, 46.8% of the American electorate would not have voted for oligarchic fascism.  What is my takeaway from that observation? The world needs a lot more brilliant art to break through the media gatekeepers and entrenched confirmation bias before we are safe from the warning of his opening scenes of disaster. Still, this wonderful book will encourage the faithful and intrigue the skeptical and that will help. It is such a good piece of writing that it stands alone as a literary masterpiece and that alone may create a megaphone for his message: ‘act now. It is almost too late.’

©Aviva Rahmani, Red Sky, 2010, digital image, 48 x 48 inches

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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

tree talk: artists speak for trees

Thursday, January 28
10am PT, 11am MT, 12pm CT, 1pm ET

EUROPE: Scotland/Ireland/England: 18:00GMT, Belgium/Germany/Spain: 19:00UTC

Dana Fritz, Laurie Lambrecht, Louise Russell, Stuart Rome
For our first Tree Talk of 2021, four photo-based artists will share their stunning and thought-provoking tree and forest imagery. Dana Fritz will present her work in progress, entitled Field Guide to a Hybrid Landscape from the Nebraska National Forest, the largest hand-planted forest in the western hemisphere. Laurie Lambrecht will speak about her current work combining photography and textile arts that is a response to her observations of nature and her felt intimacy with trees. Stuart Rome will discuss his decade long project photographing from with-inside Redwoods and Sequoia Trees in the remnants of old growth forests. Louise Russell will show work from her series Oak Air and Ways of Knowing, combining writing and botanical specimens with her photographs made on her family property in the high desert backcountry of San Diego, California.

Tree Talk is moderated by Sant Khalsa, ecofeminist artist and activist, whose work has focused on critical environmental and societal issues including forests and watersheds for four decades.

Co-sponsored by Joshua Tree Center for Photographic Arts

Did you miss TREE TALK on December 17? Watch it now on VIMEO 

Thursday, January 28
10am PT, 11am MT, 12pm CT, 1pm ET

EUROPE: Scotland/Ireland/England: 18:00GMT, Belgium/Germany/Spain: 19:00UTC

Dana Fritz, Laurie Lambrecht, Louise Russell, Stuart Rome
For our first Tree Talk of 2021, four photo-based artists will share their stunning and thought-provoking tree and forest imagery. Dana Fritz will present her work in progress, entitled Field Guide to a Hybrid Landscape from the Nebraska National Forest, the largest hand-planted forest in the western hemisphere. Laurie Lambrecht will speak about her current work combining photography and textile arts that is a response to her observations of nature and her felt intimacy with trees. Stuart Rome will discuss his decade long project photographing from with-inside Redwoods and Sequoia Trees in the remnants of old growth forests. Louise Russell will show work from her series Oak Air and Ways of Knowing, combining writing and botanical specimens with her photographs made on her family property in the high desert backcountry of San Diego, California.

Tree Talk is moderated by Sant Khalsa, ecofeminist artist and activist, whose work has focused on critical environmental and societal issues including forests and watersheds for four decades.

Co-sponsored by Joshua Tree Center for Photographic Arts

Did you miss TREE TALK on December 17? Watch it now on VIMEO 

Members and one guest are free. General Public can attend for a $10. Capacity is 100 participants. All participants MUST REGISTER.

REGISTER

Memorial Event for Amy Lipton (1956-2020)

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

10am PT, 11am MT, 12pm CT, 1pm ET

EUROPE: Scotland/Ireland/England: 18:00GMT, Belgium/Germany/Spain: 19:00UTC

Please join us for a Zoom Memorial event honoring Amy Lipton with guest speakers: 

Mel ChinMierle Laderman UkelesBrandon Ballengee, Sue Spaid, Jennifer McGregor

ecoartspace members who have worked with Lipton on exhibitions will also share their stories including Chrysanne StathacosRoy Staab, Marion WilsonLinda WeintraubSusan Leibovitz Steinman, Diane BurkoStacy LevyFredericka FosterBasia IrlandPatricia Miranda, David Rothenberg, Lenore Male n, Aviva Rahmani, Xavier Cortada, and E.J. McAdams

Amy’s sister Jane R. Lipton will be joining us. 

This event will be recorded. If you would like to contribute, please email info@ecoartspace.org.

REGISTER

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Interview with Sarah Hearn

Lessons From Other Life Around Us

Sarah Hearn works at the intersection of science and science-fiction by studying environmental creatures and phenomena. In this interview, Hearn discusses her process and inspiration for works that involve the largess of the sky to the tiniest most incredible beings.

Interview conducted by Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

You describe your work as hovering between “studies of life on planet earth” and in a “hazy atmosphere of science fiction.” Where do you experience the break between the two?

I believe this boundary between factual understanding of science and visionary predictions of science fiction sometimes collide and the various breaks between these two worlds are constantly shifting.  Our understanding about the universe around is forever bombarded with new knowledge. At times, these moments force us to shed previously held beliefs sometimes about the core of our beings, or types of matter lurking in our universe. These uncomfortable places of limited human knowledge are infinitely interesting.

Although I have several projects that are science fiction in nature, Symbiotic Cooperation, the Lichen Field Guide and and the Lichen Study Guide collaborations are examples of projects with the goal of scientific accuracy. I enjoy working in a variety of ways, so being able to tax both sides of my brain keeps things interesting. Having a range of projects in my practice feeds a strange creative/detail obsessed cycle.

I believe if we can be open to other kinds of intelligence, we could learn lessons from other life around us, about how to better adapt- even during something as extreme as climate collapse. These types of studies sound worth our time.

Parmotrema hypotropum, Urban Colonization, Colony 11, 15″ x 28″ hand-cut vinyl photographs for site-specific installation at Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discover Center, Summer 2015

Have there been discoveries you have made that have seemed like science fiction, but were real to earth (ex. Your work with Lichens)?

Yes, all the time. It’s true that the more you know, the more you realize how limited your knowledge is—you know?  But in general, I am so amazed by how weird tiny things are. I get excited thinking about the measurable electric current that pulses through all living things, and by the ability of microbes to survive a 120 million year deep freeze and come back to life in a lab over a few weeks (proof zombies are real). Lichens are excellent examples of alien-like terrestrial life. They cover an estimated 8% of the planet with an estimated 4,000-6,000 species in North America alone. We still have so much to learn from them. Lichen even survived space travel and intense exposure to the atmosphere. I have been working with them closely for 9 years now and I still learn new things from them all the time. They marvelously demonstrate how tiny life forms contain multitudes of power and different kinds of intelligence. The recent project, Astrobiological Futures has me thinking about potential space life forms and lichen like organisms don’t seem that far-fetched.

Staying connected to my natural environment is crucial for my creative and spiritual wellbeing. This work promotes learning to see beyond the human limits and reconstructing our ways of living with nature. When we feel more connected to our living environment, we tend to take better care of it.  I guess you could classify it as microactivism? Tiny changes with big impact.

Cumulus and Stratocumulus, 2016

What revelations did you have about the stratosphere while looking at so many images of clouds?

I grew up landlocked in Oklahoma—a place where homes and towns are frequently wrecked by the fickle mood of the weather. I remember learning how to tell a wall cloud from other cloud types at an early age. Ultimately this project grew out of a desire to know more about all the other clouds that appear and disappear so quickly above us. The world is constantly changing and observing clouds is a wonderful immediate reminder of this. Mamatus clouds are universally fascinating.

In “Above” you use frescos to present images of cloud types on their international weather systems symbols. Can you explain the choice of using frescos (an earth medium) to present the atmospheres and clouds?

The choice to transfer the images into fresco slurry was very intentional. I have roots in traditional photography and love darkroom printing. Making the switch to digital printing didn’t fill my personal need for a tactile, messy process. I had been using the symbols to code the project, but the work needed to exist beyond square or rectangular frame boundaries- suddenly I knew the symbol shapes were the solution. I developed the installation idea to hang them at different heights depending on where the clouds would occur in the atmosphere, ultimately these organic configurations feel like a weather system passing through a gallery space. Because I am using a fresco transfer process, no two are the same—a perfect analogy for clouds. For the frescos to set, I am dependent on the weather, I can only make them on drier days with mild temperature and low humidity. I love this need for cooperation to make this work- a beautiful reminder of our small place within an expansive universe.

Untitled drawing #6, 2016

Can you describe your process when creating an artwork? Do you collect things out of initial interest and then wait for inspiration through research or do you gather materials with a project in mind?

Well, there isn’t a single answer for this- ideas for projects come in different ways. I think of my art practice as a living breathing thing that changes, expands and contracts. I think I am always in conversation with the work I am researching and making; I am also receptive to new ideas as they come, but recognize they sometimes take years to come to fruition. So working with lichen came about from discovering it along the coast while working on another project focused entirely on ocean life. That was in 2009. It took me three full years before I began focusing on it and truly working with it. The first project working with it- the lichen was the conceptual framework- I set out to behave symbiotically, like lichen. I asked the public to mail small  samples of lichen to me. I photographed them, identified and cataloged them and donated them to a university herbarium. Each person who contributed lichen (or at least what they thought was lichen) received a small work of art, public recognition for their contribution and regular project updates on the project. Sometimes I set up the art making practices as a formula with strict rules—this was the case for an Unnatural History. The drawings where a strict size, all were printed in the color darkroom, each was mounted to a 8” x 8” plate and all were presented with their elemental symbol and atomic number. Many creatures in the catalog were real, and many were fictional, but the set of rules, leveled the viewing field and viewers start to make assumptions about the veracity of information in front of them. Other times, I just make art—I don’t think, I just let myself be creative and respond to the things I am currently thinking about.

Many of your works use bright colors on dark or black backgrounds. Can you talk about this choice and its relationship to both color theory and the scientific process?

The color choices are definitely influenced by my roots in the color darkroom. For years I was drawing negatives and printing them- so the drawings were always the color reverse of what I wanted the prints to be and because they are photograms—they float in a dark background. It seems as I’ve continued to make new work, much of this same color palate and aesthetic prevails. As for the choices for black backgrounds, and stark white backgrounds: yes, they are visually connected to darkroom photograms, but this choice also mimics formal scientific illustration where the subject presented by the artist is often isolated from its surroundings.

Artificial Colony #11, 2015

For many, including myself, the pandemic has brought us to spend more time in natural environments. How do you feel like the lock-down situations has affected your practice and goals as an artist?

Well, like many, my life has changed dramatically during the pandemic. I wish I could say the first 6 months were positive, but I was living in some kind of hyper-excited-over-tired state working full time (not from home!), managing a four-year-old whose child care went “online” and trying to stay on top of my art practice. Needless to say, it wasn’t sustainable. Spending time in nature, cooking and baking have gotten me through the difficult days, weeks, and months. In September, I made the decision to step down from my full-time position as an arts administrator and focus on my personal art career and my family. My goals for my art practice have come into full focus again and it’s feeling wonderful to give the work the time and space it needs grow.  As someone who has juggled a little too much for far too long, I am so thankful for this transition.

Sarah Hearn is an interdisciplinary visual artist and citizen researcher. Through explorations of biological life and natural phenomena, her work inhabits two realm; one grounded in studies of life on planet earth, and another hovering in a hazy atmosphere of science fiction. Hearn’s work was presented in the 2018 exhibition, Big Botany: Conversations with the Plant World at the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kansas. Recent solo exhibitions include: Microtopia and Accumulation at Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in Kansas City; An Unnatural History at Art Center of the Ozarks in Springdale, AR; and Invisible Landscapes at University of Notre Dame. Hearn earned a BFA from the College of Santa Fe, and an MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology.

(Top photo: Foliose Fruticose Reconsiliation, 2018)

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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

Amy Lipton: 1956-2020

ecoartspace would like to honor and express sincere gratitude for Amy Lipton and her sustained efforts over the last two decades, working with artists on behalf of nature. Through her curatorial practice, she helped make visible to the larger public the unique artistic approaches in the fields of environmental art, ecological art, art for nature, enabling them to flourish, as such innovative practices gained traction across the globe. The art and ecology community will be forever grateful for her pioneering contributions.

Amy Lipton (1956-2020)

Amy Lipton, gallery director, curator and ecoart pioneer based in New York’s Hudson Valley, passed away on Sunday, December 6, 2020 due to complications from ovarian cancer. She was laid to rest two days later in the Riverview Natural Burial Grounds at the historic Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. During her career as a curator, Lipton organized dozens of exhibitions and programs, gave lectures and participated on panels, and worked with hundreds of artists engaging ecological issues.

From 1986-1990, Lipton was co-owner and co-director with Barbara Broughel of Loughelton, the pioneering East Village gallery where Mel Chin had his first New York solo exhibition, “The Operation of the Sun through the Cult of the Hand” (1987). She next owned Amy Lipton Gallery on Prince Street at Crosby in Soho, which evolved into Lipton Owens Gallery through 1995. In 1999, Lipton was introduced to Patricia Watts, founder of ecoartspace, through independent curator and former Los Angeles gallerist Sue Spaid. Lipton was preparing to travel to Aachen, Germany to install art works for her good friend and artist Chrysanne Stathacos in the exhibition “Natural Realities: Artistic Positions Between Nature and Culture,” curated by Heike Strelow based in Frankfurt. Lipton invited Watts to join her in Aachen for the opening reception in June where they met for the first time in person. The exhibition featured artworks by Robert Smithson, Helen and Newton Harrison, Mel Chin, Ana Mendieta, Ulrike Arnold, Eve Andree Laramée, hermann de vries, Mark Dion, Henrik Håkanson and more. It was an important gathering of like minded artists and curators who all shared a deep interest in the relationships between art and nature. Lipton and Watts each had young children at the time and were keen to work with artists addressing environmental issues, primarily for the sake of their children’s future. They decided to partner as a bicoastal curatorial team and in 1999, applied for nonprofit status under the umbrella of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE) in Los Angeles.


In 1999, Sue Spaid and Amy Lipton coined the term ecovention (ecology+invention) to describe artist-initiated projects that employ inventive strategies to physically transform ecosystems. In 2002, Lipton and Spaid co-curated “Ecovention: Current Art to Transform Ecologies” for the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, an exhibition that included artworks by AMD&Art (Stacy Levy), Brandon Ballengée, Betty Beaumont, Joseph Beuys, Jackie Brookner, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Mel Chin, Betsy Damon, Agnes Denes, Georg Dietzler, Tera Galanti, Hans Haacke, Harrison Studio, Lynne Hull, Basia Irland, Patricia Johanson, Laurie Lundquist, Kathryn Miller, Nine Nile Run Greenway Project (Reiko Goto and Tim Collins), Viet Ngo, Ocean Earth, Aviva Rahmani, Buster Simpson, Robert Smithson, Alan Sonfist, George Steinmann, Susan Leibovitz Steinman, Superflex, Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Shai Zakai. International in scope, the exhibition and its accompanying catalog (the first online for free) aimed to show that despite artists’ practical goals, their artworks remained open-ended in scope. For the artists ideas to come alive, five of them were commissioned to produce new ecoventions, six others produced in situ ecoventions, and Jackie Brookner worked with the Mill Creek Restoration Project to create Laughing Brook (2002-2009/present), a permanent ecovention in Cincinnati.

Select exhibitions which Lipton curated after 2002:

Imaging the River, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY

Alexis Rockman: Human/Nature and the Environment, Carriage House Center, NY

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine), Ramapo College Art Galleries, Mahwah, NJ

Nuturing Nature: Artists Engage the Environment, Concordia College, Bronxville, NY

Beyond the Horizon at Deutsche Bank on Wall Stree, NY

Down to Earth: Artists Create Edible Landscapes, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Philadelphia, PA

Silent Migration: Brandon Ballengée, Central Park Arsenal Gallery for Human/Nature: Art and the Environment Series, Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, NY

E.P.A. (Environmental Performance Actions), Exit Art, NY (curated with Watts)

Into the Trees, The Fields Sculpture Park at Omi International Arts Center, Ghent, NY

Out of the Blue, Bergen College, Paramus, NJ

BioDiverCITY for 5×5 Project in Washington D.C. presented by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the National Cherry Blossom Festival in 2012

TRANSported for the New Museum’s Ideas City Festival and Arts Brookfield at the World Financial Center Plaza and at Sara D. Roosevelt Park in New York City.

FOODshed: Agriculture and Art in Action, Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY

Tipping Points: Artists Address the Climate Crisis, Bergen College, NJ

In 2016, Lipton with Jennifer McGregor co-curated the exhibition “Jackie Brookner: Of Nature,” a retrospective of the artist’s work at Wave Hill in the Bronx. Brookner (1945-2015) was a good friend and mentor to Lipton, and Lipton was an impassioned proponent of the artist’s work whose focus was healing, whether purifying air, water or memories. Adamant that science matters, Brookner stressed the importance of scientists evaluating the efficacy of her projects, which left a lasting impression on Lipton.

Amy Lipton was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated from California Institute of the Arts in 1980 with a BFA in Art and Design and worked as an art director for the publication WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing founded by Leonard Koren before moving to Manhattan, New York in 1982. In 2001, after many years working as a gallery owner and director, and two days before 9/11, Lipton moved with her family upstate to Garrison. She commuted for a few years while staff curator at Abington Art Center and Sculpture Park in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and for a couple years while director at Fields Sculpture Park at Omi International Arts Center in Ghent, New York. Lipton lived in the Hudson Valley for almost twenty years and was married to composer and musician Ben Neill. Their daughter, Kadence Luella Neill, lives and works in New York City.

Additional artists with whom Lipton worked include (not a complete list): Lillian Ball, Joan Bankemper, Vaughn Bell, Dove Bradshaw, Michele Brody, Jackie Brookner, Diane Burko, Nancy Cohen, Xavier Cortada, Elizabeth Demaray, Steffi Domike, Simon Draper, Leila Nadir + Cary Peppermint (EcoArtTech), Peter Edlund, Fredericka Foster, Matthew Friday, Futurefarmers, Joy Garnett, Fritz Haeg, Ruth Hardinger, Kimberly Hart, Susan Hoenig, Katie Holten, Natalie Jeremijenko, Patricia Johanson, Nina Katchadourian, Eve Andree Laramée, Rapid Response, Robin Lasser, Stacy Levy, Lenore Malen, Mary Mattingly, Sarah McCoubrey, Maria Michails, Alan Michelson, Jason Middlebrook, Kristyna and Marek Milde, Patricia Miranda, Eve Mosher, Itty Neuhaus, Lucy and Jorge Orta, Joan Perlman, Andrea Polli, Andrea Reynosa, Alexis Rockman, Ann Rosenthal, David Rothenberg, Christy Rupp, Carolee Schneemann, Steven Siegel, Brooke Singer, Rebecca Smith, Jenna Spevak, Roy Staab, Tattfoo Tan, Joel Tauber, Sarah Trigg, Linda Weintraub, Marion Wilson, Elaine Tin Yo and Andrea Zittel.

You are invited to leave comments below in her memory HERE

(Image: Brandon Ballengée, Motel for Insects, 2012, Smithsonian National Zoo)

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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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art and earth justice: legal strategies to protect nature

Thursday, December 10
10am PT, 11am MT, 12pm CT, 1pm ET

EUROPE: Scotland/Ireland/England: 18:00GMT, Belgium/Germany/Spain: 19:00UTC

Hugh Pocock, Eliza Evans, Kim Stringfellow, Aviva Rahmani

In this Zoom Dialogue we will hear from four member artists who have researched legal strategies around land use which has informed long term art projects created to protect nature. Hugh Pocock is currently working on a project that will designate lands as “off limits” to humans, essentially a non-human park titled No Mans LandEliza Evans created a project last summer titled All the Way to Hell in which she has distributed shares in her mineral rights in Oklahoma to monkey wrench oil and gas interests. Kim Stringfellow has been working on a multi-year documentary titled Mojave Project where she’s exposed the land use strategies of developers and miners in the desert Southwest. And, Aviva Rahmani whose work titled The Blued Trees Symphony includes live trees which she has copyrighted to prevent the construction of a pipeline through her work.

Members and one guest are free. General Public can attend for a $10. Capacity is 100 participants. All participants MUST REGISTER.

REGISTER HERE

tree talk: artists speak for trees

Thursday, December 17
10am PT, 11am MT, 12pm CT, 1pm ET

EUROPE: Scotland/Ireland/England: 18:00GMT, Belgium/Germany/Spain: 19:00UTC

Shannon Amidon, Pamela Casper, Jeanne Dunn, Greg Rose 
For our December Tree Talk, four member artists will share their unique tree and forest imagery articulated through a range of artistic approaches and styles. Shannon Amidonwill speak about the symbolism and science of trees in her encaustic paintings. Pamela Casper will share her paintings of imagined underground worlds of roots and organisms and their mysterious communication and coexistence. Jeanne Dunn will present her paintings and photo-collages depicting trees that are simultaneously life-giving, life-preserving, and deadly; seen as metaphors of our collective fate. And, Greg Rose will discuss his ongoing project of documenting conifers in the Angeles Forest, including the 100,000 acres burned in the recent Bobcat Fire in the San Gabriel Mountains above Los Angeles. 

Tree Talk is moderated by Sant Khalsa, ecofeminist artist and activist, whose work has focused on critical environmental and societal issues including forests and watersheds for four decades.

Co-sponsored by Joshua Tree Center for Photographic Arts

Did you miss TREE TALK on November 19? Watch it now on VIMEO 

Members and one guest are free. General Public can attend for a $10. Capacity is 100 participants. All participants MUST REGISTER.

REGSITER HERE

Greetings to the Natural World

Happy Giving Thanks Day!

Seems we have lots to be thankful for this holiday season, a new incoming President and a first woman and woman of color as Vice President. We have many new leaders, including more women elected to Congress than ever before.

Thanksgiving is a day that some Indigenous people celebrate their gratitude with the tradition of feast days, and recognize that their people have persisted through the centuries despite the impacts of settler colonialism, including acts of genocide.

Below is a translation of the Mohawk version of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address that was developed, published in 1993, and provided, courtesy of Six Nations Indian Museum and The Tracking Project.

Let us show thanks for the lands where we reside here on Turtle Island, and may we see plant life here for many generations to come.

Greetings to the Natural World

Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address

The People

Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.

Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother

We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Waters

We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms- waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.

Now our minds are one.

The Fish

We turn our minds to the all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Plants

Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants

With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs

Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

Now our minds are one.

The Animals

We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.

Now our minds are one.

The Trees

We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.

Now our minds are one.

The Birds

We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds-from the smallest to the largest-we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds

We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers

Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We are thankful that they keep those evil things made by Okwiseres underground. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

Now our minds are one.

The Sun

We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.

Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon

We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.

Now our minds are one.

The Stars

We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to the Stars.

Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers

We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.

Now our minds are one.

The Creator

Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.

Closing Words

We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

Now our minds are one.

English version: John Stokes and Kanawahienton (David Benedict, Turtle Clan/Mohawk) Mohawk version: Rokwaho (Dan Thompson, Wolf Clan/Mohawk) Original inspiration: Tekaronianekon (Jake Swamp, Wolf Clan/Mohawk)

Image above: Chrissie Orr and Seed Broadcast, Glass Gem or Rainbow Corn grown by Carl Barnes, included in SEED: Climate Change Resilience at the Albuquerque Museum, New Mexico, 2019.

———-

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

ONLINE Essential Ecoliteracy course

February 17 through April 17, 2021

Wednesdays: 17 Feb, 24 Feb, 3 Mar, 10 Mar, 17 Mar, 24 Mar, 31 Mar, 7 April

7-week ONLINE Essential Ecoliteracy course

Guided, self-paced learning + one-on-one virtual studio visits

Dr. Cathy Fitzgerald (Ireland) along with Dr. Nikos Patedakis (California) will present their Essential Ecoliteracy course for ecoartspace members in 2021! Ecoliteracy and ecophilosophy can assist arts practitioners in developing impactful creative practices, exhibitions, events, community art programs, and insightful cultural leadership policy for these urgent times. Each week participants will have access to online video lessons that can be engaged independently. There will be weekly meetings via Zoom on Wednesdays at Noon (Mountain Standard Time). Artists will have the opportunity to do a one-on-one virtual studio visit with Patricia Watts (New Mexico). From this course, you will gain greater confidence and competence through engagement with Indigenous wisdom traditions, ecological ethics and the sciences. Includes readings and writing. 

20 Participants Maximum

Inquire: tricia@ecoartspace.org