I was invited to turn an old violin into a piece of visual art! This mosiac-violin will be auctioned off with other decorated violins at a fundraiser for the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra.
I was invited to turn an old violin into a piece of visual art! This mosiac-violin will be auctioned off with other decorated violins at a fundraiser for the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra.
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 am excited to be a part of the Kansas People’s History Project, a poster project to celebrate the remarkable but little-known stories, events, and people of Kansas. The project is an ongoing effort led by two Lawrence-based artists, Dave Loewenstein and Justin Marable.
My poster represents the peace vigils led by the Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice from the 1990′s to today, and is among twenty posters that were screenprinted for the project by Justin.
The project’s debut exhibit is running now through most of June, 2016, at the Watkins Museum of History (1047 Massachusetts, Lawrence, KS), open Tuesday – Saturday 10am -4pm, Thursday 10am -8pm, and Sunday 1-4pm.
For more information about the project, to see more photos, and to see all of the poster designs, visit the Kansas People’s History Project website and Facebook page. Also read this brief blog about the man who inspired the project, Josh McPhee.
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
Some years ago, my family gathered at a ranch in the Flint Hills to spend a weekend and to celebrate my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary. As a native Kansas from south central Kansas, I’ve always felt at home in open country and the Flint Hills are that and more, representing a spare and exceptional beauty that is unique to its place.
At night, when we walked outside to experience the Flint Hills night, we saw the stars like we’ve never seen them before and the wondrously speckled expanse of light that is the Milky Way.
That moment inspired several mosaics, among them Night in the Flint Hills, a new commission for the design firm Spellman Brady and Company in St. Louis, Missouri for a hospital in Onaga, Kansas. The Piece is 22″ x 22″.
Two mixed-media collages of mine, Sound the Climate Alarm (at left) and an older piece called Laughing and Crying (below at right) are currently on display in a group exhibit exploring issues related to the environment. The exhibit, titled Terra Verde, features the ceramic work of Eleanor Heimbaugh, and can be viewed at NOTO ArtsPlace in Topeka, during Topeka’s First Friday events on May 1, 2015.
Sound the Climate Alarm is an imaginative depiction based on my experience of a significant moment in the movement to tackle climate change. On September 21, 2014, a small group of people in Lawrence, Kansas, gathered for a moment of silence and then tooted party horns, rattled cans of rocks, whooped, hollered and sounded off in any way we could think of to make the loudest noise possible, to “sound the climate alarm,” in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of others at The People’s Climate March in New York City and beyond. Regarding the moment in New York, the New York Times reported,
The climax of the march came in the early afternoon. All along the route, crowds had been quieted for a moment of silence. On Avenue of the Americas at 57th Street, there was an eerie silence as marchers raised their arms and looked down.
Then at exactly 1 p.m., a whistle pierced the silence, setting off a minute-long cacophony intended as a collective alarm on climate change. There were the beats of the drums and the blaring of horns, but mostly it was whoops and cries of the marchers.
At South Park in Lawrence, Kansas, after a simultaneous moment of silence with those in New York, a voluminous sound rang out too. When I first envisioned a collage about that noisy moment, I had wanted the look of the sound to be as big as possible, a visual cacophony. So in the collage I made images of saxophones layered upon bike horns, on top of other horns, and then party blowers. In addition, the repeated words “you and you and you and you” add to the visual confusion and also invite (or implicate) everyone into the meaning of the piece. And yet even with all of that going on, the visual impact is still subtle. The look of the sound is atmospheric and thinly skeletal, a subtlety that happened in the creative process that I decided to keep. And then a bird flew into the piece and I painted it black.
Compared to the climate alarm that I heard, my visual expression is low-impact, and yet I am pleased with it. For me its meaning is enhanced hanging in the exhibit beside Laughing and Crying, another colorful collage that I made seven years ago with an image of a person laughing surrounded by insects, birds, and blossoms. The piece depicts strong emotions and expresses how I feel about the environment today. It is the words in the collage, “I laughed so hard I cried” and “I cried so hard I laughed,” that express the emotional contradictions that I feel each day in our rapidly warming world. For example, a gorgeous spring day in the face of climate change can feel like beauty and terror combined: birds, blossoms, and butterflies along with heat, drought, and tornadoes.
Even so, Laughing and Crying is primarily a visually joyous piece with an orange bird smack in the middle surrounded by lots of activity, full of hope. Sound the Climate Alarm, by contrast, includes the same bird but this time it is painted black and appears on a background full of sunny-yellow energetic emptiness, a warning color scheme. When I see these two pieces together in the context of an exhibit about environmental concerns the alarm in the one piece is for me reinforced by the joy in the other and again I think of spring in a climate-changed world, a feeling of wonderment that is also full of discontent. How many more beautiful springs will there be before all we have left are summers? In a climate-changed world, what will happen to my son?
(The exhibit Terra Verde at NOTO ArtsPlace, 903-5 North Kansas Avenue, Topeka, KS, features Eleanor Heimbaugh’s clay pieces with additional contributions by James Anthony Martin, Betsy Knabe Roe, Ashley Russell, Nicole Wilson, and Hi Stockwell. The exhibit was curated by Michael Lou Bradley with assistance from Drew Douglas Simons, Fine Art Intern from Washburn University. View the exhibit during Topeka’s First Friday events on May 1, 2015.)
I loved making this piece for the Lawrence Public Library’s Banned Book Trading Card Celebration. Mine was one of seven selected for reproduction and handed out to library patrons last week. Card packages are also available for sale through the library. Here’s what I wrote about my entry:
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Harriet the Spy is a classic children’s novel published in 1964. According to a number of sources, it was banned from some libraries and schools for “setting a bad example for children.” In an unsuccessful attempt to ban the book in 1983, critics complained that it “teaches children to lie, spy, backtalk, and curse.” Harriet the Spy has won numerous awards and is often listed as among the best children’s novels. The climax of the book occurs when Harriet’s friends find her spy notebook, read it, and discover that they have been spied on, too. Hurt by Harriet’s harsh words, they retaliate. With the help of Harriet’s nanny, Ole Golly, Harriet eventually learns how to regain their trust.
Harriet the Spy and I share a fiftieth birthday this year. I first read Harriet the Spy in the mid-1970s when I was somewhere around ten years old. The book inspired my friend Anne and me to follow Harriet’s example. We bought notebooks and became spies too, writing in Harriet’s voice and even in all caps as her words are expressed in the book. I just finished re-reading Harriet the Spy for this submission and I loved it again. Harriet is seriously non-conforming and somewhat subversive. The book, too, is deeply unconventional, critical, and emotionally complicated. While Harriet’s notes on her friends and others are painfully frank and merciless, she is also at times reflective and compassionate, especially towards some who do not share her own privileged lifestyle.
The scratchboard drawing I made for this submission portrays a scene from the book that struck me. On Harriet’s regular spy route she surreptitiously watches Harrison Withers, a man who makes elaborate and beautiful birdcages out of wire. He also has twenty-five cats. Harriet is intrigued by Harrison because, although poor, he appears happy. I loved Harriet’s spying notes on this scene where, using advice given by her nanny, Ole Golly, she tries to sort out what makes sense for happiness:
HE LOVES TO DO THAT. IS THIS WHAT OLE GOLLY MEANS? SHE SAYS PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEIR WORK LOVE LIFE. DO SOME PEOPLE HATE LIFE? ANYWAY I WOULDN’T MIND LIVING LIKE HARRISON WITHERS BECAUSE HE LOOKS HAPPY EXCEPT I WOULDN’T LIKE ALL THOSE CATS. I MIGHT EVEN LIKE A DOG
Animals–mostly birds but other critters too–have taken up residence in my art for many years. I didn’t exactly invite them. Like squirrels drawn to my bird feeder, I don’t recall intending to focus on critters but they have been drawn into my art. And yet I did put up the feeder, and I did create these images, and so of course I invited them. Birds, frogs, cats, cicadas, squirrels and other critters are with us in life and so too in my art. In Steamed (2011), a squirrel chatters noisily like so many colicky babies (or whistling teakettles), clamoring for attention. In Stir (2010), birds with human legs spring forth to dance or fly. And in Composition With Goose (2009), a calm cat and a very wound-up goose hold forth and argue.
But more recently, in the past half-year or so, I’ve changed a little. I am thinking more intentionally about critters, my relationship to them, and the impact of human activity and climate change on them. I think of my pictures as a stage and the animals and people in them as characters playing a part. But instead of using birds or squirrels to tell stories that are really about people, the critters I’m drawing now are playing the part of themselves and are part of the story. In Frog, My Friend, for example, a frog, a casualty of the South Lawrence Trafficway, is carried off by “Death.” Or maybe the frog is our pet frog that died because we just couldn’t take care of him right. Either way, the frog in this story is a frog. In Run!, a Prairie Chicken plays its own part, too, on the run from Death due to habitat destruction and Kansas politics. In Passenger Pigeon: Abstract Memory, a cloud of extinct Passenger Pigeons becomes abstract and fades from memory. In Robin, Been and Gone, a robin is depicted along with several robin-silhouettes, symbolizing presence and absence, a reminder of what pesticides can do to birds. These are of course my images for my very human purposes, too. But I hope that by thinking more about the role of animals in my work, I can remind viewers that we have a relationship with animals, and that this relationship is fragile.
Making work about the negative impact of humans on critters is a new direction in my art, the beginning of a
larger body of work. I was moved to think more about animals in the broadest sense of the word after reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction. Her book includes story after story of scientists worldwide documenting the process of animals becoming extinct because of human-caused global warming. Animals are leaving us now, and they are never coming back.
In my new work I am guided too by collaborating with my composer-friend Lynn Gumert, of Hightstown, NJ. Lynn and I have talked on the phone and we have exchanged emails, images, and sound. We are working together on loosely-related themes in our work, themes that include the impact of climate change on weather, animals, and us. Lynn is working on a series of related short saxophone quartet pieces, and eventually our work will be presented together. Her first notes to me depicted a river. Building on her compositions I am also playing with images of saxophones and literally drawing their “sound,” as in River Song. In this piece, a Mourning Dove plays a saxophone-river. This, too, is another experiment in visual storytelling.
Please join Karen Matheis and me for our two-person show at the Phoenix Underground, opening Final Friday, June 27, 2014, 5 – 9 pm, from June 27 – July 23 at the Phoenix Underground (825 Massachusetts, Lawrence, KS). I’ll show these works and others too, and almost all of them include animals.