I’m excited to share the following links that comprise the coverage of our collaborative project, Heating Up: Artists Respond to Climate Change. These include blogs on the USDAC website, and local press coverage:
I’m excited to share the following links that comprise the coverage of our collaborative project, Heating Up: Artists Respond to Climate Change. These include blogs on the USDAC website, and local press coverage:
Heating Up: Artists Respond to Climate Change — to feature art exhibit, month-long series of educational and cultural events
The exhibit is posted as a Facebook event: http://on.fb.me/1T6XHsn.
All project events are posted on the LETUS website: http://bit.ly/1ngBiuv
LAWRENCE — “Heating Up: Artists Respond to Climate Change” is an art exhibit and month-long series of cultural and educational events scheduled for March and April in Lawrence, Kansas. The project brings together dozens of local and regional artists, poets, educators and performers working on climate change. A panel discussion in April includes a combination of nationally active and prominent local voices.
The exhibit “Heating up: Artists Respond to Climate Change,” opens on Final Friday, March 25, 2016, 5 – 10pm, at the Lawrence Percolator located in the alley east of New Hampshire St. between 9th St. and 10th St., behind the Lawrence Arts Center. The opening will feature three brief performances. At 7 and 9 pm, Robert Baker will read poetry by Langston Hughes and the band Ovaries-eez will perform. At 8 pm, local poets Dennis Etzel, Sandy Hazlett, Denise Low, Topher Enneking, Nancy Hubble, and Mary Wharff will read from their poetry, and Doug Hitt will briefly speak about his co-authored book A Kansas Bestiary. The exhibit runs March 25 – April 23 and is open Saturdays and Sundays, noon – 5pm.
“We hope that the exhibit bolsters a community conversation about climate change and what we can do about it,” said committee co-chair Lora Jost.
The exhibit includes the work of 42 local and regional artists with diverse viewpoints, some working in teams. The exhibit includes art by professionals and non-professionals, among them professors and students alike.
“We wanted to exhibit the work of artists who are already working on climate change as well as to activate others to engage climate change as a new theme in their work,” said committee co-chair Sara Taliaferro.
Art in the exhibit includes paintings, prints, drawings, an artist book, sculptures, and installations. Some of the art pieces concern the roots of climate change and the effects of fossil fuel consumption on the weather, animals, and people. Some of the art pieces convey deep despair. One artist’s work is a metaphor for creativity born from crisis. Additional art pieces offer hope, visualizing ways to work together toward solutions.
Justin Marable’s prints, for example, with images of coal smoke, dinosaur bones, birds and buffalo, illustrate how fossil fuel use and consumerism affect the earth and animals. Damia Smith’s colorful, intricate, enameled copper images reveal how burning coal in the United States brings drought and famine to north Africa. A painting by Haskell Indian Nations University student Geraldine Walsey shows a woman looking to the past through winged eyes, “searching for the beauty of what nature once was, and now is rarely seen today.”
Laura Ramberg’s ceramic cloud vessels evoke sharing food and other resources as a way to reduce the need and greed arising from our reliance on fossil fuels. A team of artists (KU Professor Matthew Burke and then students Samuel Balbuena, Cameron Pratte, Vi Stenzel, and Cortney Wise) contributed a functional beehive that, once launched, offers a home for the dwindling honeybee population. Marin Abell’s whimsical 9-foot long flat-bottomed trolling motorboat, complete with serpent heads, is made with Eurasian Milfoil (an invasive aquatic plant that threatens lakes) and runs on distilled Milfoil ethanol.
Jill Ensley’s interactive board game playfully asks serious questions about our future: “Will the last iceberg melt? Will the pollinators die off? Will you opt to take in those climate refugees? Do you believe we can step back from the edge, or that it’s too late?”
Exhibiting artists include: Marin Abell, Angie Babbit, Rena Detrixhe, Jill Ensley, Neil Goss, Lisa Grossman, Eleanor Heimbaugh, Nancy Hubble, Lora Jost, Dave Loewenstein, Justin Marable, Nancy Marshall, Kaylyn Munro, Molly Murphy, Laura Ramberg, Hirsuta Pilosa, Michelle Rogne, Kent Smith, Damia Smith, Sara Taliaferro, Garret Tufte, David Titterington, Nicholas Ward, Ethan Candyfire, Georgia Kennidee Rikie Boyer, Kyuss Hala, Kayla Kent, Cleta LaBrie, Lori Hasselman, Alyx Stephenson, Geraldine Emily Walsey, Katie Manuelito, and KT Walsh. Three teams of the following artists have created collaborative works: Samuel Balbuena, Matthew Burke, Cameron Pratte, Vi Stenzel, and Cortney Wise; Amanda Monaghan and Pablo Cerca; and Amanda Maciuba, Tim O’brien and Mary Wharff.
The exhibit and related events are sponsored by two Lawrence community groups, the USDAC-Lawrence Field Office and Lawrence Ecology Teams United in Sustainability (LETUS), in collaboration with Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) and the Lawrence Percolator. (See USDAC-Lawrence Field Office at http://on.fb.me/20riNAM, the USDAC national office at http://www.usdac.us, and LETUS at https://lawrenceecologyteams.wordpress.com/about/.)
The “Heating Up” project grew out of a local event in 2014 that brought together these sponsoring groups with leaders from the Haskell Indian Nations University community, on a march and art event against climate change. The success of the 2014 event helped inspire the current collaboration.. (See link for 2014 collaboration http://usdac.us/news-long/2014/10/16/the-peoples-climate-march-makerspeaker-party-lawrence-ks).
“How Can We Work Together on Climate Change?” is a panel discussion that is free and open to the public on Sunday April 10, 3-5pm, Parker Hall, Room 110, at Haskell Indian Nations University. The event includes five prestigious panelists, all local, with an exciting combination of experiences and expertise on climate change, arts and culture, community organizing, and practical steps to a sustainable future. Panelists include Saralyn Reece Hardy, Director of the Spencer Museum of Art; Thad Holcombe, retired Ecumenical Christian Ministries Campus Minister at KU and Moderator for Lawrence Ecology Teams United in Sustainability; Eileen Horn, Sustainability Coordinator for Douglas County and the City of Lawrence and formerly with the Climate and Energy Project and Interfaith Power and Light; Jay T. Johnson, Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Geography and Atmospheric Science at KU and directs KU’s Center for Indigenous Research, Science, and Technology; Dan Wildcat, professor at Haskell Indian Nations University, Director of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center, and Convener of the American Indian/Alaska Native Climate Change Working Group. The panel will be facilitated by Sara Taliaferro with music by Alex Williams and art by Haskell students. The panel discussion is listed as a Facebook event: http://on.fb.me/1L6z6l8
“Mrs. Noah in Poetry and Dance” is a collaborative performance by poet Elizabeth Schultz and dancer Joan Stone, on Friday April 15, 2016, at the Lawrence Percolator, with performances at 7 and 9pm. The collaboration includes Stone’s insightful dance interpretations of Schultz’s poems that reflect on the relationships among humans and animals, examining how catastrophes disturb these relationships, how the resulting tremors connect us, and how we survive together, learning from one another. Elizabeth Schultz, retired from KU’s English Department, has published a large body of scholarly writings, books of poetry, short stories, essays, and a memoir, and is a dedicated advocate for the arts and the environment. Joan Stone taught dance history and choreography at the University of Kansas from 1982 to 2010, and through dance explores nature, dance and politics, women as history makers, and the relationship between gesture and word. The performance is listed as a Facebook event: http://on.fb.me/1njVj3i
“A Change in the Weather: Writing From Climate Change Art,” is a free all-ages writing workshop on Sunday April 17, 2-4pm at the Lawrence Percolator. Please plan to attend the whole workshop to help create a circle of deep sharing and reflecting. Led by former poet laureate Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and naturalist and writer Ken Lassman, participants will consider their own “internal and external weather” in relation to climate change by dwelling among the art exhibit as a key writing prompt. The writing workshop is listed as a Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1Qr1led
Hang12 “Effecting Change” includes art made from repurposed materials by teens, coordinated by the Lawrence Art Center’s youth curatorial board Hang12. The public is invited to the exhibit’s Final Friday opening on March 25, 5-8pm, Watkins Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St. The exhibit runs for a month and is open Tuesday – Friday, 10am-4pm (and on Thursdays in April from 10am – 8pm). “Climate Change is an issue that impacts all of us. To bring awareness to this subject we asked artists to use repurposed materials within their artwork to take a stand on Climate Change and environmental issues.” Watkins website: http://bit.ly/1Rsh4X7
Eco Ambassadors “Haskell Wetlands Restoration Day” invites the public to join this Haskell student-led workday of seeding and planting to help restore the Haskell Wetlands, on Saturday April 16, 2016, 10am-2pm. Bring gloves and gardening/landscaping tools. Directions: Come straight on Massachusetts St. heading S., continue S. past Indian Health Service. Massachusetts St. turns into W. Perimeter Rd. so keep going and follow road around campus until you get to the intersection of W. Perimeter Rd. and Barker Ave. Dr. Then turn right onto Barker Ave. Dr. (you are going south), go straight and you will run right into the wetlands access gate. The workday is listed as a Facebook event: http://bit.ly/1ZtKmuh
Here’s a poster I made for the Kansas People’s History Project coordinated by artist Dave Loewenstein. My poster celebrates the peace vigils sponsored by the Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice (LCPJ), in Lawrence, Kansas, calling for peace in Iraq and Afghanistan. The LCPJ is a community organization that began in the 1970′s to promote education and action for a just world, free of war. Look at the entire poster gallery here. More posters will be added as they are submitted.
11″ x 17″, ballpoint pen
The awards ceremony was on Sunday, November 2, 2014, at the Lawrence Arts Center, Lawrence, KS. Ceramic artist Kim Brook made this year’s awards. I was honored along with Dr. Marilyn Stokstad (Arts Educator), Lauralyn Bodle (Musical Arts), Heidi Raak and The Raven Book Store (Creative Spaces), and the Lawrence Civic Choir (Performing Arts).
Here is a Lawrence Journal World article about this year’s awardees.
My sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project is done! News, Boats, Better Angels: A Visual Journal, along with thousands of other sketchbooks from around the world, will be included in a traveling exhibit of artist books made this year. The project is coordinated by the Brooklyn Art Library, a branch of the Art House Co-op based in Brooklyn, NY. An on-line catalog of this year’s books will be coming soon.
I have long kept sketchbooks to examine my life and creative process, but this is the first time I’ve made one for public view. It is still a process-oriented book like my other sketchbooks, but in this one I focused on several ongoing themes: better angels (a theme I can’t quite explain but it has to do with grappling with what is the right thing to do), paper boats (a symbol for the flow of life), and news (my response to newspaper stories that struck me especially in an election year). I enjoyed the project because it has enabled me to share a looser, more personal kind of art with others, and I’m excited that I will be able to see other people’s sketchbooks, too.
Here is the story of Art Lives!, one of two pieces that I co-created with Erika Nelson for the collaborative exhibit Art Lives!, coordinated by Rachel Epp Buller of the Feminist Art Project. Women artists from across Kansas were paired for this project to make both individual and collaborative artwork addressing the theme “Art Lives!” in light of the elimination of the Kansas Arts Commission a year ago.
Here is the process of how Erika and I made Art Lives! We wrote an artist statement together, trading our writing back and forth to work on in the same way that we worked on the piece itself. I begin:
Stage 1 - Lora:
Erika and I began collaborating on two art pieces after exchanging a couple of emails and talking on the phone. Because we live hundreds of miles apart and still to this day have never met, we decided on a process in which we would each begin making a piece that we would then mail to the other for additional work. We would mail the pieces back and forth until our deadline — one focused loosely on “politics” and the other on “art lives.” The process would be a conversation, a slow-moving, visual-heavy conversation about the state of the arts in Kansas.
I began our piece, that we eventually titled Art Lives!, by painting a baby bird held in someone’s hand. I had toyed with using this image in some of my own art ever since seeing a photo of a baby bird in a National Geographic magazine a couple of years ago that I had made sketches from. I think of the baby bird here as a stand-in for babies of all kinds who are both fragile and yet are amazingly strong and resilient. Was this bird dead or alive? Maybe that would be a good way to start a piece about the state of the arts in Kansas.
Stage 2 – Erika:
I saw the beginning of Art Lives! and thought about some of the conversations that had been occurring throughout the past year regarding the arts – when is it endangered? When is it cared for? Whose hand is that? It brought to mind a Christmas visit to an area racked by the same issues, but with dire results. On the banks of an inland sea, two shores exist. On one shore, bird hatcheries and aviaries, on the other, a mass of death where the wildlife of the sea washes up to become a part of the beach – a beach made only of the remnants of the life that grows just on the other shore. The bird image that makes up the second layer came from this second shore.
Stage 3 – Lora:
I had been curious how Erika would respond to my baby bird image, and getting the package in the mail with her visual response was akin to birthday mail. I immediately liked her overlay of the adult bird image, and read her note about where the image came from. While I hadn’t viewed this bird as death absolutely, the image did remind me of a photography project that had made its way around the internet a couple of years ago with photos of dead sea birds whose decaying bodies revealed all kinds of crazy human-made junk that the birds had eaten.
Already our image was complicated and I didn’t want another layer to visually clutter the piece. So I decided to include simply the outlines of two sets of embracing hands bordered in yellow, an image I had used in some past work to represent interpersonal support. Bringing women artists from across the state together to support each other as artists was one of the goals of the entire “Art Lives!” project. I felt that this goal had taken hold in our collaboration and I wanted to show this with the image of embracing hands.
Stage 4 – Erika:
As with the partner exchange being mailed back and forth, weekly, seeing the slip of paper in the PO box alerting me to a package became an exciting part of the process. This time, in seeing the interlocking and overlapping hands, seeming to strengthen and surround the lil’ bird in the center of the image, I thought about the cycles, the circles of life and death, inspiration and struggle, that were recurring themes in the process.
I added a swirling, emerging set of forms, derived from the same Christmas exploration as the Salton Sea bird. Leonard Knight, a visionary artist working in a destitute and desperate area of the California desert, has created a colorful, playful, powerful mountain in the midst of this hard place – a multicolored mountain of adobe and castoffs and paint. The bird forms used in Art Lives! come from the millions of soaring birds that pepper the mountain, appearing in every surface of Leonard’s work. Their simple innocence of flight, and the marriage of bird-yet-human form seemed to be a connector for the hands and birds in the collaboration, as well as bringing the life/death cycle to the desiccated bird form from Stage 2.
Stage 5 – Lora:
At this point we evaluated our project over the phone and decided that it was at a comfortable stopping point. And our time was up. I liked the way that Erika’s energetic birds-in-robes (maybe even in bathrobes) seemed to come from death and encircle the baby bird giving the whole piece a sense of regeneration. I added some light blue marks into these robed beings to make a visual connection to the original baby bird. It was also time now to glue down “little guy,” a dead baby bird that Erika had found somewhere and painted blue, that we had mailed back and forth a couple of times for contemplation. The real baby bird added something visceral and tangible to the work.
We agreed that I would mount this piece and that Erika would bring our Brownback- collaboration to its conclusion. After casting about for how to mount it (frame it? stretch it?), I decided to simply paint a solid piece of plywood and glue the canvas to the board with acrylic gel medium. I’ll spare you the details of my various mounting missteps and simply note that I am pleased with how the piece came out, and I like the way the canvas is set off visually by the black and stippled background.
On With the Show celebrates the creative expression of children, and is part of the exhibit Art Lives!, a statewide collaborative project coordinated by the Feminist Art Project as a response to Governor Brownback’s elimination of the Kansas Arts Commission (KAC) a year ago.
The Kansas Arts Commission worked hard to support the making of art by children in schools and community centers across the state. When the KAC was cut, these programs were cut too. In addition, the state has cut funding to the public schools and this also means cuts to the arts. What happens when our state decides that we no longer need to nurture the imagination and creative spirit of young people?
Here is the story of Brownback Puppeteer, a piece I created in collaboration with Erika Nelson for the exhibit Art Lives!, coordinated by Rachel Epp Buller of the Feminist Art Project. The exhibit opens on March 30, 2012, at CityArts in Wichita.
Women artists from across Kansas were paired with each other to make both individual and collaborative artwork addressing the theme “Art Lives!” in light of the elimination of the Kansas Arts Commission.
Here is the process of how Erika and I made Brownback Puppeteer. We wrote an artist statement about the piece, trading our writing back and forth to work on in the same way that we worked on the piece itself. Erika begins:
Stage 1 – Erika:
In the collaborative project and exhibition “Art Lives!,” created in response to the cut in Arts funding in the state of Kansas and the elimination of a nationally recognized arts organization, Lora Jost and I have been exchanging two pieces via mail to work on together. These two pieces, Art Lives! and Brownback Puppeteer, reflect two sides to the concept – the politics behind the frustration of the arts community, and the resilience of Art itself.
Brownback Puppeteer started as a simple set of portraits of Gov. Sam Brownback, gleaned from publicly available press photos. The original thought was one of political cartooning, akin to the sort of editorial cartoons that have peppered the conversation on the media front. This was a new realm for both Lora and me, and the collaborative voice changed and evolved through the discussion, reflecting both the urban(ish) and rural impact of Brownback’s policies and actions.
Stage 2 – Lora:
When I received the two portraits of Governor Brownback from Erika, I was perplexed about what to add next. Artists have been satirizing political figures since classical Greece if not since the earliest cave paintings, and given these portraits in this context I had a feeling that our collaboration would go in the direction of satire as well.
I wasn’t a political cartoonist but still I decided to add a cartoon bubble to the governor on the left (that’s how I oriented the two pieces) with him asking, “Art?! What is it good for?!” Maybe the question would read as incredulous on his part but also as a real question I was putting out there to be answered; a question for Erika.
The text that I added to the second portrait is based on a refrigerator magnet that my artist-brother gave to me many years ago that read, “Art can’t hurt you.” I had always read this statement with a certain irony, and it seemed an interesting backdrop from which to view Governor Brownback’s elimination of the KAC. I have always assumed that Governor Brownback was comfortable eliminating arts funding because he didn’t think that the arts community could hurt him politically. So I changed the text in this piece to read, “Art Can’t Hurt Me,” to represent Governor Brownback’s arrogance towards the arts community, first firing the entire staff of the KAC and then line-item-vetoing the organization’s entire budget.
Stage 3 – Erika:
When I got the Brownbacks back with text, I was happy to see the pointed, yet upbeat turn. I didn’t want to demonize BB, but create some sort of commentary on the policies enacted and their effects on the art world in Kansas. Since there were two panels, with two possibilities for related yet complimentary messages, I decided to add both the activist reaction to policies, as well as the continued growth of the Arts in Kansas.
For one, I added a painted paper silhouette scene from one of the Arts rallies held at the Capitol. It was such a powerful coming together of the arts, pleading and empowering the Arts community, I chose some of the messages from the many voices represented. A John Brown that would give hugs for arts, a “Here’s My 29 Cents” illustrating the cost to taxpayers for supporting the Kansas Arts Commission, and an Arts = Business were just a few of the sentiments of the day. I also added string images to Brownback’s hands, opening the question of “who pulls the strings?” For the other panel, I originally envisioned a massive swirl of arts coming up to confront the BB image, but downscaled the addition to a Meadowlark, elevated via tornado to BB’s eye level, singing out for the Arts of Kansas.
Stage 4 – Lora:
As a response to the question “what is art good for,” Erika had painted such a nice protest scene around one of the images of Brownback that I felt that this image was almost complete. And yet there were those silly strings to contend with, and so I decided to do something with them. I tried to use them to illustrate the idea that Brownback appears to be responding not to what ordinary Kansans want but to particular interest groups that are far more ideologically extreme than most Kansans. The Governor’s elimination of the KAC is but one example; rather than responding to ordinary Kansans, many of whom support the KAC, Brownback’s decision to eliminate the agency reflected more the kind of views of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing interest group. I decided to include the logos of five of these sorts of organizations that have ties to Governor Brownback, and to illustrate these connections I attached real strings stretching from the organizations’ logos to Brownback’s hands. As I considered these organizations, I was struck that many of them are considered secretive: ALEC, the Koch brothers, the Fellowship, and Opus Dei. Perhaps the Tea Party, that I also included, is less so. I was curious what Erika would think of these additions.
I didn’t know what to do with the other Brownback image. Erika’s little tornado headed up by a meadowlark was curious indeed, and beyond imagining it kicking dirt into the Governor’s face — which seemed a little mean and not something that nice Kansas meadowlarks would do — I didn’t know what to do with the image. So I added something silly. I shrunk Erika’s drawing of Brownback and gave him the outfit of a stereotypical French artist along with a bad French accent. This was a response to an interview that I had heard in which Governor Brownback was asked, in light of the elimination of the KAC, what he would do to help artists. He said that he’d like to promote art that is based on the Flint Hills in relation to tourism. As an artist who doesn’t paint landscapes, my response was, “Are you kidding?” Without knocking Flint Hills Art (which I greatly enjoy), it seemed to me that this was a pretty narrow range of art. Governor Brownback as a French “arteest” who “lervs the Fleent Heels” evolved into a paper doll. With it I was thinking about what happens when art is subsumed into the commercial realm, which is where I fear that art is headed in Kansas if Brownback has his way. (Brownback paper dolls available for $9.99, outfits sold separately!)
Stage 5 – Erika:
At this point, the artists received an email regarding the show. The gist was that overtly political works may be pulled, which sorta’ threw both of us for a loop. However, in a phone conversation discussing how the pieces should wrap up, we decided not to censor ourselves. When I saw the whimsical additions from Stage 4, I felt pretty good about the collaboration, and the gentle poking that resulted from the exchange. Yes, they are important issues, and yes, the pieces were coming from a place of frustration, but the work evolved into a piece of questioning, rather than demonizing.
Lora added logos to the strings on one hand, leaving the others open to my input. I agreed with the choices, so simply mounted the pieces so that the operators could act on both hands. Suddenly, everything clicked – the paper doll, the puppet, even the puppet-like or paper-doll-like cutouts of the protestors. I composed a set of questions, mounting them with the two Brownback boards, on a background of a Kansas roadmap. The strings, the roadways, the cutouts, the acts on paper, coalesced.
Finally, I thought it’d be a nice gesture to include an Artist Approved Self-Censoring shade, if the piece was still deemed too controversial or pointed for display. I mounted a pull-down shade on the top of the piece, which can be pulled down over the imagery, revealing a large red “CENSORED” stamp applied to the shade.
Note – Lora: While the threat of censorship caused quite a kerfuffle among the participating artists, we are pleased that CityArts of Wichita (a publicly-funded arts center) made no real attempt to take any work out of the show, ultimately honoring their First Amendment obligation not to censor the works on the basis of content or viewpoint.
What should the city do with “This Green Space” — the open lot on 9th and New Hampshire beside the Lawrence Arts Center? A recent exhibit at the Lawrence Percolator put that question to the public. My response: build a playground! On Tuesday, April 27, a procession of Percolator members and volunteers took a model of the hotel proposed for that spot to City Hall, illustrating its large size in relation to other buildings and advocating for alternatives.