7.01.2017

Re/Imagine: How Artists Interpret the World


  



Curator Amy Lipton was invited to present on the work of ecoartspace at the The Brown Arts Initiative (BAI)  re|ACT: symposium on arts and environment March 3 & 4, 2017 at the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, Brown University.

The symposium initiated the BAI and brought together cutting edge artists, curators and scholars whose work engages with the multiplicity of environments in which we live. From the natural environment to data mediascapes to sonic ecologies, re|ACT showcased the latest arts practice and research that reacts to and with the environment.

A consortium of six art departments and two affiliated programs representing the performing, visual and literary arts at Brown University, the BAI is designed to foster an interdisciplinary environment where faculty, students, artists and scholars in a wide range of fields from across the campus and around the world can learn from and inspire one another.

Lipton was invited to participate on a panel titled, re|IMAGINE: How Artists Interpret the World. Visual artists and curators who respond to the world around them, whether they view environments as politicized, natural or social.

Each panelist discussed their individual practices, which had a common theme—how the making of art can be a tool for social and cultural change. David Buckland described his organization, Cape Farewell, which has sponsored expeditions involving more than 350 artists calling attention to climate change. Seitu Jones shared his public installation work in his hometown of St. Paul, MN, including The Community Meal, a mile-long, outdoor dining experience that connected over 2,000 residents through locally sourced, healthy food. Amy Lipton related how she and Patricia Watts, co- founders of the ecoartspace gallery without walls, have paired artists with scientists, engineers, architects and botanists, using “art as a pathway towards a more sustainable and resilient future.” Paul Villinski spoke of repurposing the detritus of his neighborhood into artwork evocative of flight and building a self-contained ecosystem in his studio that nurtured live butterflies, recurring imagery in his work.

Asked by moderator Anne Bergeron if artists have a responsibility to engage in political or social action, the panelists agreed that responses will vary by individual, but each must reflect on this personally. “It takes time to come to that place [of artistic activism],” said Lipton, “but it’s urgently needed.” Villinski invoked President Barack Obama: “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change, and the last to be able to do anything about it.”

“Leave your community more beautiful than you found it.” —Seitu Jones

See Panelists page for more information on the individual panelists. #BAI2017









2.27.2017

Care as Culture: Artists, Activists and Scientists Build Coalitions to Resist Climate Change


On February 12, I participated as a panelist/respondent on “Care as Culture: Artists, Activists and Scientists Build Coalitions to Resist Climate Change, A Convening Around the Peace Table.” This event was held at the Queens Museum in conjunction with the exhibition Mierle Laderman Ukeles: Maintenance Art and took place at the large circular “Peace Table,” a centerpiece of her large retrospective exhibition. Our afternoon of discussion brought together a group of artists, activists, and scientists. One goal of the roundtable was to brainstorm methods for coalition building across these disciplines, to effectively multiply the power to confront an environmental, political, and spiritual crisis in our increasingly antagonistic time. Questions posed were;  “How can we create a broad cultural movement to combat the policies of a new administration intent on dismantling many of the safeguards that reduce the effects of climate change?” “How can successful coalitions be introduced, and the urgent ways artists can begin the process of coalition building” and “what prevents us from working together and how can we advocate for change?”

The presenters included Newton Harrison, The Natural History Museum, Natalie Jeremijenko, (absent) and Mary Mattingly. Respondents included Carol Becker, Francesco Fiondella, Allan Frei, Hope Ginsburg, Alicia Grullon, Klaus H. Jacob, Amy Lipton, Lisa Marshall, Jennifer McGregor, Aviva Rahmani, Jason Smerdon, and Marina Zurkow. Newton Harrison presented on the concepts, outcomes, and collaborations that were part of “A Vision for the Green Heart of Holland” 1995. The Harrison Studio consists of Helen Mayer Harrison (b.1929) and Newton Harrison (b.1932) who are among the earliest and the best known ecological artists. Working with biologists, ecologists, architects, urban planners, and other artists, the Harrison Studio initiates collaborative dialogues to uncover ideas and solutions that support biodiversity and community development.

Speaking on behalf of the collective The Natural History Museum was co-founder Beka Economopoulos. In her presentation “Tactics for the Trumpocene” she addressed the museum’s latest work to build coalitions between scientists, Indigenous communities and museum professionals. The Natural History Museum’s mission is to affirm the truth of science. The museum is a project of Not An Alternative, a collective of artists, scientists, historians, theorists, and activists. Launched in 2014, The Natural History Museum is a mobile and pop-up museum that offers exhibitions, expeditions, educational workshops, and public programming. Unlike traditional natural history museums, it makes a point to include and highlight the socio-political forces that shape nature.

Artist Mary Mattingly presented “Swale,” an experiential public space and artwork on New York’s waterways that provides access to free food through perennial urban agriculture along with coalition members Lindsay Campbell, Dariella Rodriguez, Bram Gunther (Co-Director of the NYC Urban Field Station), and docents from the Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice: Brandon Kane and Anthony Lespier. Mattingly is an artist who takes societal consumption and ecological crisis as points of inquiry. Working with community members ranging from scientists to engineers, students, and neighbors, she co-creates sculptural ecosystems in urban spaces. Mattingly is engaged in questions about how art can influence policy and strengthen the commons.



Panelist/Respondents included Carol Becker, Professor of the Arts and Dean of Faculty at Columbia University School of the Arts; Francesco Fiondella from the International Research institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University’s Earth Institute; Allan Frei, climatologist and Deputy Director of the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities; Hope Ginsburg, artist; Alicia Grullon, artist and founder of Percent for Green, Bronx, NY; Klaus H. Jacob, geophysicist and Professor of Environmental Science at Barnard College; Amy Lipton, Director/Curator at ecoartspace; Lisa Marshall, community organizer for Mothers Out Front, NY; Jennifer McGregor, Director of Arts and Senior Curator at Wave Hill, Bronx, NY; Aviva Rahmani, artist and visiting professor at Stony Brook University, NY; Jason Smerdon, Associate Research Professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and Marina Zurkow, media artist and faculty member at ITP/Tisch School of the Arts.

The convening took place over the course of 3 plus hours and gave time after the presenters for respondents to speak, address the posed questions and add to those questions. It was a day where dire concerns for the future were expressed, while simultaneously the uplifting wit, energy, knowledge and spirit of the participants proved to be an affirmation of like-mindedness and shared ideas towards coalition building, which had been expressed as a goal of the gathering. Having participated on many such panels, my hope is for continued dialogue. The group resolved to stay in communication beyond the event.


Amy Lipton

2.26.2017

Curator-in-Residence, St. Mary's College of Maryland


This is not my first residency, however, curators are not often invited to occupy space that is traditionally made available to artists. Last year, visual artist Sue Johnson, Professor of Art and Director of the Environmental Studies program and Artist House Residency at St. Mary's College of Maryland, sent me an email and invited me to come out for a week, a month, or as long as I needed/wanted. I had included Johnson in an exhibition over a decade ago titled Bug Eyed: Art, Culture, Insects (2004), and was flattered that she invited me. This seemed like a great opportunity to spend time on a campus, interacting with college students, to give a lecture and a workshop, and possibly teach a summer session. We hammered out some dates, titles, and descriptions for my programs, and here I sit now at the Artist House on Mattapany Road in St. Mary's City, home of Maryland's first colonial settlement and the first capital of Maryland. 

I arrived on February 6th and started prepping for an Art & Ecology lecture and an Art & Food workshop, creating Keynote presentations and curating video clips to share. I could tell right away that the students here--being embedded in a farming culture in rural Maryland, and with environmental science and biology programs on campus--were naturally interested in the interstices of humans and nature. For my lecture on Feb. 22nd, I presented Windsock Currents, an installation I produced on Crissy Field in the Presidio in 2005, and Cloud House, my more recent curatorial public art endeavor in Springfield, Missouri. I presented the evolution of ecoartspace and our activities such as the video archive (presented interview with Buster Simpson) and Action Guides (presented Eve Mosher's HighWaterLine). I also shared a short video on painter John Sabraw, providing an example of the remediative art that will be the focus of my Summer session I've proposed titled Debris Fields: Aesthetic Solutions to Industrial By-products. Attendance was over 100 including students and community members who stayed seated until the end; a resounding success as I am told!


On Saturday Feburary 25th, I presented a six-hour workshop on art and farming, starting off with performative artworks from the 1970s including: FOOD restaurant in Soho by Gordon Matta-Clark and Carol Goodden; Making Earth by Newton Harrison; and The Farm an alternative school by Bonnie Sherk. I also presented Exchange Values by Shelley Sacks, an artist from the UK whose work inspired me to focus on art and food production after meeting her in 2005. And, I presented works by a few of the artists in my 2006 exhibition Hybrid Fields presented at the Sonoma County Museum, including: Susan Steinman's Sweet Survival; Laura Parker's Taste of Place; Temescal Amity Works Sonoma Preserves; Wowhaus' Tree, Trust, True; and Matthew Moore's Green Roof. More recent works that were shown included: The Waffle Shop in Pittsburgh; Lauren Bon's Not-A-Cornfield; Amy Franceschini's This is Not a Trojan Horse; and Matthew Mazzotta's Harm-to-Table. We discussed how food miles are calculated and the challenges that this model presents. And, before breaking into two groups to brainstorm potential projects for St. Mary's City, I took them down a "darker" path to examine the work of Hugh Pocock, MyFoodMyPoop, and Jae Rhim Lee's Mushroom Burial Suit. We also watch segments of the documentary The Real Dirt on Farmer John an artist/farmer who comes close to losing the family farm, and excerpts from the play Map of My Kingdom about the transfer of farm land. 



I've been here three weeks now, with five more to go. I'll be giving a talk to an environmental economics class February 27th (tomorrow), and another talk to a sculpture class on March 22nd. I've also been invited up to Baltimore to speak to an Urban Farming class taught by Hugh Pocock at the Maryland Institute of Contemporary Art on March 20th, as part of his Sustainability and Social Practice program. Looking forward to experiencing the change of season, from winter to spring, here in the land of oysters on the Potomac River in the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the USA

Patricia Watts