Eco-art Work: 11 Artists From 8 Countries
Secret Dialogue-I from Mycelial Series will be exhibited in a group show in Various Small Fires gallery in Los Angeles.
Opening Reception: Saturday June 25th, 6-8pm
Salma Arastu (b. 1950, lives and works in Berkeley, California) works to create harmony by expressing the universality of humanity through paintings, sculpture, and calligraphy. Presently she is exploring the realm of the underground life-giving mycelial networks, creating visual images of connections and collaborations hoping to bring humanity together with lessons learnt form Nature. She was invited to Germany twice, as a Resident Artist in 2000 at Schwabisch Gmund and in 2011 at Westphalia Wilhelm University in Münster to publish her paper “Art Informed by Spirituality” in the publication on the International Symposium: ‘God Loves Beauty: Post Modern Views on Religion and Art. She has presented her work and given talks at Stanford University, Commonwealth of San Francisco, Seattle University, Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley, and Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, St. Louis Missouri. She was invited to Morocco for one-month Artist Residency Program in March of 2018 through Green Olives Art Gallery.
After graduating in Fine Arts from Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda, India, she lived and worked in Iran and Kuwait before landing in Pennsylvania, USA in 1987. She has held over 40 solo exhibitions nationally and internationally in India, Iran, Kuwait, Germany and the U.S. Arastu has received numerous awards including the East Bay Community’s Fund for Artists (2012, 2014 and 2020) and the City of Berkeley’s Individual Artist Grant Award (2014, 2015, and 2016). She has written and published five books on her art and poetry including her recent work with ecological consciousness from Quranic verses “Our Earth: Embracing All Communities.”
Brandon Ballengée Ph.D (b. 1974, lives and works in Arnaudville, Louisiana) is a visual artist, biologist and environmental activist based in Arnaudville, Louisiana. Ballengée creates transdisciplinary artworks inspired from his ecological field and laboratory research. Since 1996, a central investigation focus has been the occurrence of developmental deformities and population declines among amphibians and other ectothermic vertebrates. From 2016-2019, he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate Museum of Natural Science at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), studying the impact on fish species from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill with Curator of Fishes Prosanta Chakrabarty. Ballengée was also a 2017/18 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) and Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in Washington D.C. examining species “missing” from the Gulf since the 2010 oil spill. In 2019 he received a Creative Capital Award and delivered a TEDxLSU talk. In 2020, he was included in the 2020 Grist 50 Emerging Environmental Leaders. In 2021, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was appointed Adjunct Faculty of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Tulane University
Ballengée’s artwork has previously been exhibited throughout the USA and internationally in 20 countries, including Canada, Argentina, England, Germany, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Russia, India, China, South Korea and Australia. In the summer of 2013 the first career survey of Ballengeé’s work debuted at the Château de Chamarande (Essonne, France), and travelled to the Museum Het Domein (Sittard, Netherlands) in 2014. In 2016 a 20-year retrospective of his work was held at University of Wyoming Art Museum in Laramie, Wyoming.
Barbara Benish (lives and works in Bohemia, Czech Republic and Santa Cruz, California) is an artist, curator, writer and farmer. She recieved her BA in Ethnography & Art from the University of, Hawai’i and her MFA in Painting from Claremont Graduate University, and at the Royal Academy of Art in Stockholm. She moved to Prague in 1993 as a Fulbright scholar and stayed. Her work has been shown at numerous institutions in Europe and the U.S., including P.S.1 Museum, Queens, New York; the Getty Museum,Los Angeles, California; the Stadtgeschichtliche Museen, Nurnberg, Germany; and the National Gallery in Prague, Czech Rupublic. Benish is Founding Director of ArtMill in rural Bohemia, which is an expansion of her vision of art as social practice working with students, artists, and locals. She has been an Advisor to the United Nations Environmental Program, a Fellow at the Social Practice Arts Research Center, UC Santa Cruz, and co-author of Form, Art, & the Environment (Routledge, 2017). Benish teaches in Prague and at West Bohemian University in Plzen. With co-author Nathalie Blanc she is working on a new book, “Art, Food and Farming” (Routledge, 2021) and continues to create installations, interventions and paintings on environmental and social issues integral to our time.
Nathalie Blanc (lives and works in Paris, France) works as a Research Director at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). She is the Managing Director of the Center for Earth and is based at the University of Paris. A pioneer of ecocriticism in France, she has published and coordinated research programs on areas including habitability, environmental aesthetics, literature & environment, and nature in the city. A founding member of the French Environmental Humanities Portal, she has also been from 2011 to 2015 the French delegate of the European COST research project Investigating cultural sustainability and then is the delegate of the European COST program on New Materialism ‘How Matter Comes to Matter’ (2015-2018). She is an artist and an art commissionner, working on the theme of ecological fragility. In 2014, she was the curator of an exhibition “What makes fragility” at the Galerie Vivo Equidem. Blanc animates and coordinates a project of LABArtSciences devoted successively to urban soils of the Anthropocene SOIL FICTIONS (2016) and sustainable food THE TABLE AND THE TERRITORY that give rise to experiments in writing and exhibition.
Tim Collins Ph.D and Reiko Goto Ph.D (live and work in Glasgow, Scotland, UK) are known for long-term projects that involve socially engaged environmental research and practices; with additional focus on empathic relationship with more-than-human others. Methods include deep mapping and deep dialogue. Recent work involves the cultural meaning of conservation boglands and cutaway peatlands in Ireland Deep Mapping | Lough Boora Sculpture Park (2020). A focus on deep mapping a Caledonian Pine forest in Scotland: Future Forest: The Blackwood, Rannoch Scotland; Sylva Caledonia (2016); Caledonian Decoy (2017). An elucidation of photosynthesis and transpiration in the sculptural instrument, PLEIN AIR presented in North Carolina (2019), Glasgow (2017), and Cologne (2016). They have also developed relational approaches to climate change integrating empathy, science and technology. Earlier work focused on post-industrial public space and ecological recovery Nine Mile Run (1997-2000); and 3 Rivers 2nd Nature (2000-2005). Outputs include artworks, video, exhibitions, seminars, workshops, and publications that embrace an arts-led dialogue and deep mapping methods of research-and theory-informed public practice. They have worked with musicians, planners, scientists, and technologists as well as historians and philosophers to realize work for over thirty years.
The Harrisons Studio consists of Newton Harrison (b. 1932, lives and works in Santa Cruz, California) and Helen Mayer Harrison (1927—2018). Often simply referred to as “The Harrisons,” the husband and wife team are leading pioneers of the Ecological Art movement. During their prolific career, the Harrisons have been the subject of over 100 solo exhibitions, and have been included in over 250 group exhibitions. For nearly fifty years, the Harrisons have produced work across a vast range of disciplines, working in collaboration with biologists, ecologists, historians, activists, architects, urban planners, and fellow artists to initiate dialogues and create works exploring biodiversity and community development. They have shown work at the 2019, 1980, and 1976 Venice Biennales; Taipei Biennial (2018); documenta 8 (1987); the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Tate, London, UK; Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles; The Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois; MoMA PS1, New York; Berkeley Art Museum; Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Massachusetts; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Kunstmuseum Bonn, DE; and Kunstverein Hamburg, DE. Works by the Harrisons are included in many major permanent collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Newton Harrison is a Professor Emeriti at University of California, Santa Cruz, and University of California, San Diego.
Jorgge Menna Barreto Ph.D (b. 1970 in Brazil, lives and works in Santa Cruz, California) is an artist and educator whose practice and research have been dedicated to site-specific art for over 20 years. Menna Barreto approaches site-specificity from a critical and South American perspective, having taught, lectured, and written on the subject; he has participated in art residencies, projects, and exhibitions worldwide. In 2016, he took part in the 32nd São Paulo Biennial with his award-winning project Restauro: a restaurant set up to work with a complex system of environmental restoration in collaboration with settlements of Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement (MST); the project traveled to the Serpentine Galleries, London, in 2017. In 2020, as a resident at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Netherlands, he launched a periodical called Enzyme in collaboration with artist Joélson Buggilla. In 2022, he was commissioned to participate in the 2021 Liverpool Biennial. He is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Art at UC Santa Cruz, currently teaching in their new MFA in Environmental Art and Social Practice.
Aviva Rahmani Ph.D (lives and works in New York and Maine) is recognized as a pioneering leader of and theorist on ecoart, crossing over the environmental sciences and feminism and a co-founder of the ecoart listserv. She is the co-editor of “Ecoart In Action,” the author of “Divining Chaos,”(pub. New Village Press 2022) and is working on an opera based on “The Blued Trees Symphony” (2015- present), which challenged eminent domain land takings for natural gas pipelines with copyright law across North America. Rahmani has received numerous grants and fellowships and has been exhibited, published, presented, and written about both nationally and internationally. Her previous work has been included in exhibitions at the Thomas Erben Gallery, the Independent Museum of Contemporary Art, Cyprus; the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, CO; the Hudson River Museum, NY; the Cincinnati Center for Contemporary Art, OH; and the Joseph Beuys 100 days of Conference Pavilion, for the Venice Biennale, Italy. She is an Affiliate with the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado at Boulder; gained her PhD from the University of Plymouth, UK and her BFA and MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.
Åsa Sonjasdotter (lives and works in Ven, Sweden and Berlin, Germany) is an artist, researcher, writer and organizer. Sonjasdotter engages in processes of rememberance and renarration of livelihood relations. By the cultivation of outlawed crops and close reading of archived matter (dead and alive), lost imagination and knowledge of the past and the present is brought into re-existence. Sonjasdotter’s ongoing artistic enquiry, Cultivating Stories, follows the re-cultivation of grains rescued from the deep freezers of the Nordic Gene Bank. It is to be presented in a collaboration with the farmer/breeder-initiated association Allkorn, the People’s Movements for Art Promotion (Konstfrämjandet), and the Malmö Art Museum, Sweden. Cultivating Stories was initially commissioned by the Bergen Assembly, Norway in 2019. It has been presented at the Biennale of Warsaw in Poland, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp, Belgium; Wuerttemberg Art Association, Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany along other venues.
She is a Doctoral Researcher in Artistic Practice at Valand Academy, The University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Since 2015, she is a founding member of the Neighbourhood Academy, a bottom up learning site growing from the Prinzessinnengarten in Berlin. In 2007, Sonjasdotter co-founded the Academy for Contemporary Art in Tromsø, The Arctic University of Norway, where she was program leader until 2010, and professor until 2014. She took part in establishing the Danish artists’ association Young Art Workers (Unge kunstnere og kunstformidlere, UKK) in 2002. Sonjasdotter is a founding member of Women Down the Pub (Kvinder på Værtshus), a feminist action network initiated in Copenhagen, 1996, who published the antology View, feminist strategies in Danish visual art in 2004.
Ruth Wallen (lives and work in San Diego, California) is a multi-media artist and writer whose work is dedicated to encouraging dialogue around ecological and social justice. After working as an environmental scientist, she turned to art to pose questions beyond disciplinary boundaries, address values informing environmental policy, and contribute to the developing field of ecological art. Solo exhibitions include Franklin Furnace and CEPA, New York; New Langton Arts, San Francisco, California; and many venues in southern California. She has been represented in numerous national and international group exhibitions ranging from Virgin Territory, at the Long Beach Museum of Art, to Weather Report: Art and Climate Change, curated by Lucy Lippard for the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Colorado. Website hosts have included the California Museum of Photography and the Exploratorium, where her work is currently on view. Her current work bears witness to the tremendous loss of trees over the last decade, providing space for both collective mourning and revisioning ways of being and doing that support the flourishing of life web. Active in the border region, she was a member of the multinational artist collective Las Comadres, and a Fulbright Lecturer at the Autonomous University of Baja California, Tijuana. Currently she is core faculty for the MFAIA in Interdisciplinary Arts program at Goddard College and a lecturer at UCSD. In the spring of 2022, she was the Lenz fellow at Naropa University in Boulder Colorado and will be an artist-in-residence at the Santa Fe Art Institute this fall.
Yangkura (b. 1981, lives and works in Seoul, South Korea) received his BA and MA in sculpture from Chung-Ang University, Seoul, South Korea. He has been inventing works that reflect the contemporary world by reinterpreting discarded objects or images that do not receive attention in daily life. Through such a process of reinterpretation, Yangkura is quite naturally drawn to ecology and the environment. His work presents environmental issues and seeks for solutions to address them. Hence, he believes cooperation between various environmental organizations, science and technology, and artists is important. He actively brings overlapping areas of environment and art into his artworks and is showing them in various countries such as East Asia and Europe in many different ways.