Archives for category: engaged art

The Mobile Garden Dress, part of the Urban Foragers series, participated in the first Eco Art Fest in Toronto during the summer of 2014. This new outdoor festival situated at Todmorden Mills is presented by No 9 Contemporary Art and the Environment, an arts orga­ni­zation that uses art and design to bring awareness to envi­ron­mental concerns. It featured 8 public art installations hidden throughout the site, live music, homemade organic dishes, beer and wine. Plus Public Art tours, Watercolour Painting Workshops, Sustainable building workshops, and Clay Stein Making. The Mobile Garden Dress was on hand at all the events onsite and she also traveled around the city to the Brick Works Farmer’s Market, the Taste of the Danforth and to Queen Street. It’s been a busy summer for this Urban Nomad! The dress was worn by several models whom i met and trained at the beginning of the project. Special thanks to horticulturalists Deena Del Zotto, Rachel Kimel and Wendy Woodworth for growing and taking care of the plants!

Mobile GArden Dress hits the streets of Toronto

Mobile Garden Dress roams the streets of Toronto

MGD on site near the stage at the Eco Art Fest

MGD on site near the stage at the Eco Art Fest

 

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artecology15

Art And Ecology Now is a new book written by Andrew Brown and published by Thames and Hudson. My work is featured among 95 creators in a compendium of ecologically responsive work. Art and Ecology Now is the first in-depth exploration of the ways in which contemporary artists are confronting nature, the environment, climate change and ecology. As Brown argues in the introduction, “Once an area of interest for a relatively small group of people, art that addresses environmental issues has in the last five years become part of the artistic mainstream.” He adds that “there has been a growing tendency in contemporary art to consider the natural world not only as a source of inspiration or subject to represent, but also as a realm to influence directly — a sphere of action to transform and improve through creative means.”

My work is listed as 1 of 12  best artists in the book  in an article by The Guardian. I also read a review of the book in the print edition of the Art Newspaper while sitting in a café during my visit to Art Basel in Switzerland in June 2014. After working in relative obscurity for years it is nice to know that the art and ecology movement is gaining some legitimacy in the art world and that my work is being counted among these amazing artists worldwide. My work is featured on pages 198 and 199 in the Re/Create section plus there is also an image of View in the introduction on page 7.

pages 198 and 199 in Art and Ecology Now

pages 198 and 199 in Art and Ecology Now

The book moves through the various levels of artists’ engagement, from those who act as independent commentators, documenting and reflecting on nature, to those who use the physical environment as the raw material for their art, and those committed activists who set out to make art that transforms both our attitudes and our habits. It includes at 10 page introduction: ‘At the Radical Edge of Life’ by Andrew Brown, 6 chapters: Re/View, Re/Form, Re/Search, Re/Use, Re/Create, Re/Act plus a Further Reading list. Finally a book that deals with the complex breath of the environmental art movement by adding fresh voices to the topic.

 

The Ego Eco, environmental art for collective consciousness exhibition was curated by Allison Town and Emily Tyler for the Begovich Gallery at California State University Fullerton, which featured to work of 13 artists. I participated on a variety of levels during my 5 week residency there. During the first 2 weeks i completed the Traveling SeedBomb dress and assembled the Urban Foragers series and staged a public intervention which was filmed and shown along side the Traveling SeedBomb dress in the gallery. The 3 Urban Foragers were at the opening reception and i was also on hand to talk about my work at the opening preview earlier in the day. During the evening, Juliana Rico made seed bombs with the public, people signed adoption paper for Vaughn Bell‘s Pocket Biospheres and i was delighted to meet artist Esther Traugot and her delicately crocheted seeds. Here is an excerpt from the Curatorial Statement.

Disconnect between real actions and real-time becomes increasingly evident in our fast-paced, technologically saturated urban environments. Selected artworks in ego|eco: environmental art for collective consciousness aim to confront traditional notions of “spectatorship,” promoting involvement over complacency through the inclusion of engaged public art practices and environmental art conveying a collective call to action. Juxtapositions of mediums, content, scale, forced perspectives and changes in cadence and flow will encourage viewers to become both physically and psychologically aware of their own roles as “spectators”—symbolic of a greater need for action and social reform in the pursuit of sustainability.

A 100-page catalogue including a scholarly essay by CSUF Exhibition Design alumna and founder of ecoartspace.org, Patricia Watts will be published in early 2014. See more of the exhibition HERE.

Gallery entrance view with title wall, Traveling SeedBomb dress and dress form with vest and hat and Urban Forgers video beside it. Photo: M.O.Quinn

Gallery entrance view with title wall, Traveling SeedBomb dress and dress form with vest and hat and Urban Forgers video beside it. Photo: M.O.Quinn

The Urban Foragers got together for the first time as a group to share a communal meal made from the food sources they each carry in their self sufficient dresses. The Mobile Garden Dress, aka Madame Jardin, The Nomadik Harvest Dress, aka Miss Cornucopia and the new kid on the block, The Traveling SeedBomb Dress, aka Agent SeedBomb got together at California State University Fullerton for the Ego Eco exhibition at the Begovich Gallery. The day began with the dresses walking around campus and interacting with students about sustainable food practices and also promoting the exhibiton. They then settled into the courtyard in the Visual Arts Department where they set up camp for the day. Madame Jardin and Miss Cornucopia helped Agent SeedBomb set up her teepee and then they began preparing the meal. They traded foods to enhance each others recipes and each created a dish to be shared. The Mobile Garden Dress made a salad from the veggies in her over 40 potted plants hanging from her hoop skirt  and added pomegranate seeds from the NomadiK Harvest dress. The Harvest dress in turn borrowed fresh herbs from the Garden dress to add to the soup she made from the many vegetables harvested from the Fullerton Arboretum. She also made a tasty fruit salad topped with Coconut from the SeedBomb dress. As it was her first time making food, the SeedBomb dress prepare a simple dish of energy snacks by crushing nuts and seeds with a mortar and pestle and rolling them into balls. She also shared some of her fresh sprouts for the salad. After inviting friends to join them in their communal meal, they told stories while soaking their feet in the pool and then later retired, each to it’s own comfy little shelter to bed down for the night. The event was held beside  Richard Turner’s “Wall Gazing Gallery”, a open structure with a corrugated roof with water falling from it into a pool surrounded by peach coloured Bougainvillea trees.

The whole process was filmed and is now available to view here or click on the You Tube icon to watch in your browser.

The Urban Foragers camp

The Urban Foragers camp

Credits:
Agent Seedbomb: Alice Tokunaga
Ms Cornucopia: Andrea Harris-McGee
Madame Jardin: Megan Eras
Artist and photographer: Nicole Dextras
Videographer: Kirk Dickinson
Curators: Emily Tyler, Allison Town
Makeup: Dusty Germano
Support crew: Gaby Castillo, Marty Lorigan, Martha Rocha, Mark Uspon
Special Thanks to the Fullerton Arboretum Staff and Lou Arnwine

Agent SeedBomb is the name of the character who wears the Traveling SeedBomb Dress; an eco agent-provocateur with good humour and style, advocating for self-sufficiency through food independence and sustainable practices.

The dress houses 50 glass vials filled with enough seed to plant over an acre of vegetables, grains and herbs to feed a family for one year, which were purchased from the Sustainable Seed Company in California. In this role, Agent SeedBomb aims to inform viewers on the identification and preservation of seeds while also engaging the community in activities such as seed bomb making and sidewalk stenciling with grains. In addition to being and avid sprout grower, he or she prepares delicious protein snacks from recipes using mostly seeds and nuts.

This piece was developed for the Ego Eco exhibition at Cal State University in Fullerton California during the month of August 2013 and it was joined by its sister pieces for the first Urban Forager communal meal. The Foragers set up camp beside Richard Turner’s “Wall Gazing Gallery”, an environmental sculpture reminiscent of Asian shrines found along country roads and they prepared dishes with produce supplied by the adjacent Fullerton Arboretum. The dress was then installed in the Begovich Gallery for the duration of the exhibition. On opening night Agent SeedBomb, played by Alice Tokunaga  gave out Seed Money (seed embedded paper coins by Leafcutter Designs) to the public. I love their thoughtful designs and was very happy to incorporate it into the project.

View full Art Statement: The Traveling Seedbomb Art State

This dress is made for traveling and throwing seed bombs.

This dress is made for traveling and throwing seed bombs.

The Traveling SeedBomb Dress is the third instalment in the Urban Foragers series. Like its predecessors, the Mobile Garden Dress and the Nomadik Harvest Dress, it functions as a garment, a shelter and a food source. As this series is about self-sufficiency, each new piece refers to a nomadic structure and for this one i chose the teepee because the shape resembles a Pine cone.  I am fascinated by the ingenious ways that plants propagate their seeds and so i have tried to incorporate this into the design as much as possible. There are cone shaped pockets all around the edge, which hold seed bombs, which were placed within easy reach of the wearer so they could be thrown while moving about.

The structure is based on a series of hinged cedar pieces, which when folded down make up the skirt and when extended they form the teepee shape. I have used metal bolts and wing nuts as a means to hinge and tighten the segments. My intent is to someday replace these with a more organic material but for now they at least only require a small screwdriver to assemble. The skirt is covered in heavy duct canvas hand painted with a dandelion motif, a symbol of highly effective plant survival and endurance. Our agent of propagation also wears a secondhand vest adorned with épaulettes of fresh Wheat Grass and a hat formed from a bamboo birdcage with birdseed.

I looked at many options for displaying the seeds and finally decided on the glass vial because I want the public to be able to see the seeds clearly so they can learn to identify them. I created a wire cage for each one, 50 in all and hung them between the struts with linen thread. I also attached some glass globes and green cans, which have holes in them to facilitate the daily rinsing of seeds for sprouting.

Traveling SeedBomb dress set up in Begovich Gallery

Traveling SeedBomb dress set up in Begovich Gallery

I am happy to share with you a new short documentary about the StoreFront, objects of desire project at the Lansdowne Centre in Richmond BC by Michael Sider . This video captures the performance and audience engagement parts of the project as they occurred in the mall;  intersecting consumer culture and artistic interventions with gentle prodding and good humour. And of course the kids are so darned cute! Special thanks to Elisa Yon of the Richmond Public Art Program for supporting the creation of this video. Performers include, Nita Bowerman, Billy Marchenskie and myself. enjoy.

StoreFront, objects of desire was  an installation at the Lansdowne Shopping Center in Richmond BC that blurred the line between consumer culture and art by displaying ephemeral objects in a retail window setting. Here dresses made from live flowers and shoes made of leaves are presented on mannequins as if for sale. By presenting simulated fashion articles within an existent shopping experience the viewer was confronted with having to negotiate the space between desire and ownership. I was on site at the mall periodically preening and adding new elements to the window displays. There were also public interventions in the shopping centre on weekends: The Mobile Garden Dress made a salad and shared it with the public, Sir William the Explorer went looking for gold and timber in the mall and Madame Nicole came out of her nearly 30 year retirement to do Extra D’Extras MakeOvers with shoppers.

StoreFront window display with signage

StoreFront window display with signage

Dates: July 1st to the 31st, 2013
Location: Lansdowne Shopping Center in Richmond BC
Store #960, Kiosk Court, see directory here

This project was presented as part of the inaugural artist residency at the Lansdowne Shopping Centre and supported by the City of Richmond’s Public Art Program.
Lansdowne Centre
City of Richmond Public Art
 

 

The Nomadik Harvest Dress, part of the Urban Foragers series was part of the Flatlanders and Surface Dwellers exhibition at 516 Arts in Albuquerque New Mexico. Curator Lea Anderson invited me to come down and give a talk about my work and so I took the opportunity to also have the Ms Cornucopia, this time embodied by Korie Tatum, cook up a dish of Cholla cactus buds. I met with local native plant forager, Amy White, who took me out to gather plants, which was the highlight of my trip. We also went out to the desert to take some photos of the dress in it’s natural habitat. Special thanks to Rhiannon Mercer Simpler and her husband Trent for having us in their home and also to Marge and Wolf for letting us onto their land. I had been to ABQ a few years ago for the Land Art Symposium and since then i had imagined one of my pieces in this sparse but rich landscape. Thank you to all who helped make this vision possible. Go to this Flickr page to see more photos and Special thanks to gallery assistants Teresa Buscemi and Claude Smith, who took photos and brewed up a large pot of Navajo Tea for the event. View video of the Tohono O’odham picking Cholla, one of the desert’s super foods.

Nomadik Harvest Dress in the Desert

Nomadik Harvest Dress camping and foraging for local native plants in the New Mexico desert

Cholla buds taste like a cross between and artichoke and asparagus. They have a slippery texture like okra or aloe verra.

Cholla buds taste like a cross between and artichoke and asparagus. They have a slippery texture like okra or aloe verra.

Cholla stir fry with veggies. Local and nutritious.

Cholla stir fry with veggies. Local and nutritious.

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The Little Green Dress Projekt was an outdoor installation in the Earth Art Exhibition at VanDusen Botanical Garden in the summer and fall of 2012. For a full description of the project and to view photos please visit the LGD blog. I was on site for 2 months creating these pieces and installing them one at a time in the perennial garden. They were left to change and decompose over time to emphasize the process of nature. Each dress was made for an individual woman who supplied the leaves and flowers for her dress. Four women worn their dresses for the exhibition opening  on August 2nd. In attendance were the curator, John Grande and artists Nils Udo, Urs Twellman, Chris Booth and Michael Dennis. Many thanks to my helpers Nita Bowerman, Martin Borden and Ruth Wolf who made the armatures for each dress. Also special thanks go to garden director, Harry Jongerden who was responsible for the exhibition and his tireless assistant Tracee Jung. The exhibition was well received in the press thanks to publicist Nancy Wong.

composite of 21 dresses

composite of 21 dresses

 Martin Borden created a short video of the dresses worn on opening night.

Raymond Chan also created a video of the project

made from Magnolia leaves, Hydrangea flowers and Globe Thistle.

made from Magnolia leaves, Hydrangea flowers and Globe Thistle.

Barbara's dress after 2 months outdoors, turned a golden brown patina from sun wind and rain.

Barbara’s dress after 2 months outdoors, turned a golden brown patina from sun wind and rain.