Land Arts of the American West 2017

Page 1

Land Arts of the American West 2017




with texts by

Adele Ardent Viola Arduini Issy Arnold Jeanette Hart-Mann Amy Catherine Hulshoff Alex Kinney Ruby Pluhar Paul Ross Mikala Sterling 4

Land Arts of the American West 2017


Acknowledgments Land Arts of the American West at the University of New Mexico began in 2000 as an alternative studio arts program based in place of the American Southwest. Forging new directions in experiential learning, creative field-based practices, and Art & Ecology, its spirit is bound to the many hands who have contributed to its relevancy and potential by putting it into action and keeping it moving with the needs of our times. This does not mean moving faster or pressing towards some ultimate ideal of this pedagogical practice. Rather it is about being nimble, experimental, responsive, and at times slow. It is about being on the edge of knowledge with openness, yet digging deep into the here and now. It is cultivating new possibilities for art, learning, teaching, and ecocultural applications within our bioregion. There is an urgency at stake that demands this move into the rooted and into the local. Recently in the US, we have witnessed the expansion of extractive industry, deregulation of environmental protections, deprivation of public education, erasure of climate change data, and looting of both indigenous and public lands. This while a great number of people directly affected by these oppressive policies voice opposition. Not to mention global rising temperatures, massive wildfires, floods, hurricanes, the 6th extinction, and staggering numbers of refuges fleeing increased violence. It is all happening out there. But there is also an important question to ask here. What is happening locally, in our backyards, in our bioregion, and with our neighbors? What are these voices declaring? This is where Land Arts of the American West now finds itself. Deeply entangled in cultivating critical and empathetic relationships with people, lands, plants, and animals in order to take up some of the most pressing issues of our times. Environmental justice is at stake and our intention is to nurture this experimental process in order to catalyze art with education, art with action, and art within a community of relations bioregionally. We could not do this without help. Many thanks go out to all the generous people who guide us along this challenging path and teach us new ways of perceiving, thinking, learning, teaching, and creating in this diverse community of bioregional roots. Thanks go out to our 2017 teachers in place: Ron Boyd, Daniel Tso, Sunny Dooley, Jonah Yellowman, Borderlands Restoration Leadership Institute, and Orien MacDonald. Also thanks go out to colleagues in Art & Ecology and the Department of Art at UNM. And finally, a very grateful thank you for the continued programmatic funding support from Lannan Foundation. Jeanette Hart-Mann, Director, Land Arts of the American West + Assistant Professor Art & Ecology


Contents 06 Acknowledgments 08 On Methane Flares On Northern New Mexico 11 In Relation to Place 20 2017 Itinerary + Artists 21 2017 Guests, Partners + Faculty 22 Santa Fe Art Institute Partnership 24 LAAW + SFAI140 28 2017 Exhibition 30 Adele Ardent 32 Viola Arduini 34 Issy Arnold 36 Amy Catherine Hulshoff 38 Alex Kinney 40 Ruby Pluhar 42 Paul Ross 44 Mikala Sterling 48 Foundations for Breath 50 Photo Captions 54 Credits


On Methane Flares On Northern New Mexico They say that when it rains, it rains around it. An inverse to the pet thunderclouds that follow the glum and unlucky in the world of cartoons. A howling field, which pushes all good things away, such as the rain. What a preposterous sin, to banish this connection between earth and sky They cannot touch each other. Rifted by and angled iron arrow, Loosing the daemons safe beneath earth’s skin As odorless, insatiable flame. Two kinds of pumps I wanderwalk along the badland valley floor, amongst dwarf cottonwoods and natural gas pump stations. I think of the ‘bad’ in ‘badlands’ as less of a negative term and more in the way that skater kids in high school say ‘bad.’ Impressive. Sort of scrappy, and capable. Sounds of my heart and the stations comingle… Two kinds of pumps

Paul Ross Angel Peak, Greater Chaco Region, Eastern Navajo Agency, NM September 22, 2017 Land Arts of the American West blog:





In Relation to Place Jeanette Hart-Mann Land Arts of the American West (LAAW) is a semester long, field-based, Art & Ecology program at the University of New Mexico. It is organized as a student-centered learning experience grounded in creative arts practices and critical inquiry, while focusing on the ecology of place throughout our Southwestern bioregion. The semester is organized around a series of field investigations, research, creative workshop seminars, independent studio, and a final public exhibition. Structured as a framework for professional practice, students are mentored one-on-one and within their collective cohort to transform deeply held questions and creative processes into art to share with others. Embodied logic, interdisciplinary experimentation, diverse cultural perspectives, and environmental literacy are all catalysts for this experience. Unlimited by the walls of studios or classrooms, this creative inquiry is made possible by stepping into context, dwelling in place, and being in relationship with other: human and more. This is what happens when LAAW heads out into the field. During field investigations students and faculty travel for up to 50 days throughout the Southwest living and working across environmental econiches, cultural sites, and contentious spaces. Locations include: sub-alpine tundras, high-desert scrub and grasslands, riparian corridors, public lands, historic farms and acequias, ranches, villages, urban water utilities, dams, hydroelectric power plants, superfund sites, oil and gas development, Federal Monuments and Wilderness areas, and border walls, to name a few. Falsely listed as taxonomic, these sites are not bound to their names as delineated objectifications, rather they are complex, alive, and rife with conflict and care as people, histories, ecologies, plants, animals, and others struggle to make these home. Likewise, the role of local residents, artists, activists, scholars, and organizations play a significant role in animating these spaces, sharing their stories, and stretching our awareness of these places and the issues present.


The field itinerary is organized around a series of engagements including independent, investigative, and collaborative work sites. In 2017, independent work sites included the Rio Grande Headwaters, Wild Rivers/Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, Muley Point/Bears Ears National Monument, the Gila Wilderness, and White Sands providing LAAW artists with multiple days and nights to explore these places and experiment with creative ideas. Self-organizing principals are instrumental in these locations where artists determine their own independent work flow throughout the days, exploring and working on projects inspired from the environment, local guests, critique, phenomenological embodiment, and of course play. In these sites, collaborative and solo processes incite both discursive and wholly realized works generating new forms of knowing, question, and creative value. Our 2017 investigative sites: Mergirl Gardens, Oil and Gas Fields at Angel Peak and in the Eastern Navajo Agency, Chaco Canyon, Glen Canyon Dam, and Borderlands Restoration/US-Mexico Border, brought us in contact with local farmers, activists, artists, ecologists, and long-time residents as guides to develop relationships with these sites/issues and learn about their significance in shaping ecocultural relationships in place. During these intensely scheduled (and sometimes deeply traumatic) investigations, we embrace traditional ecologic knowledge as a primary source for our learning in place. We travel with our guides to specific sites, work side by side with them experiencing alternative creative land-based practices, and attend workshops, lectures, and screenings privileging local perspectives and the wisdom of place. Because of our limited time-frame and highly programmed itinerary there is little time for extensive, individual creative response. Instead the group focuses on documentation, journaling, and informal discussion while allowing these experiences to embed themselves and simmer within. In some cases, investigative sites also double as collaborative project sites where LAAW artists work together to create performances, events, or interventions on location with partners. At Mergirl Gardens, La Villita, NM, we worked with farmer Ron Boyd to learn about the state of food, agriculture, economics, and climate change, all while camping on his farm. We wandered the cornfields and acequias, gleaned fresh




produce, prepared atole, weeded, squashed bean beetles, and scythed and threshed rye. We then hatched a plan to prepare a creative feast using only local foods to honor the farmers, land, and water surrounding us. We foraged the local farming community for ingredients to make the meal, laid out a spread, and presented a video montage of our experiences from the farm. At our last investigative/collaborative site, Borderlands Restoration Leadership Institute in Patagonia, AZ, we explored the concept of re-weaving degraded landscapes, ecologies, borders, and communities back together as a counter punch to the current political trend of building walls, marginalizing other, and exploiting land (resources) for accumulated power and wealth. Together, as a collective body, we moved massive quantities of stone from hand to hand as a participatory earthwork to slow water runoff, mitigate soil erosion, and regenerate plant and animal communities in an abandoned housing project and migration corridor. All these experiences generate a myriad of emotional, physical, perceptual, and uncanny responses from these artists, who, in turn, transform these into highly performative, interdisciplinary, and experimental processes in the field and for exhibition. Since our time out is situated as a collective incubator, these experiences also incite collaboration, skill sharing, and discourse situated as synergistic creative actions. All of this comes together to kindle ideas, processes, and projects that are visceral, messy, playful, ephemeral, participatory, and relational. Yet, far from what most people know art to be. Nevertheless, affect is at the core of this as process over product becoming ripples of an embodied creative practice in life. This points to what guest artist and DinĂŠ storyteller, Sunny Dooley, described to us at Angel Peak in the midst of hundreds of oil and gas rigs spewing toxic fumes into the air, while chemical concussions split the earth underfoot. She said, “I am the story, story is happening.â€? What she meant by this was a call to action, to make art not as imitation, representation, metaphor, narcissism, monetary gain, and/or anything less than reality. Instead and enacted, creativity, story, and art generate resistance, possibility, growth, healing, and life. They are real, animating and interconnecting people, land, and the more-than-human.


By the end of October, early November, we return from the field and locate our creative process in reflection, dialogue, and action through collective workshopping, independent studio, public exhibition, and final artists’ writings. Reflection is instrumental at this time with a multitude of concepts and experiments to wrangle. Drawing the field closer from a distance, artists review their journals, photographs, videos, raw materials, and the body itself. Following emergent processes, projects take shape over the next several weeks through series of iterations, group feedback, and final articulation. These are never one-to-one translations of fieldwork, neither are they documents. Instead, these artists grapple with the formation of new works that demand a relationship between concept, context, and audience. LAAW is never static. It changes from year to year following the movement of bioregional issues while re-engaging with familiar and changing contexts. This small book offers a glimpse into 2017 LAAW programing, experiences, and culminating creative work. The intention here is to give readers a current framework for exploring bioregional arts education, the field of Art & Ecology, and more particularly to seed a critical context around the creative processes, works, and words of this year’s participating artists. It does not intend to be comprehensive. Instead it lays out multiple paths as intertwining engagements connecting people, place, and creative practice to our bioregion. Following are details from 2017 programming including our schedule, artist cohort, guests and partners, public events, and writings and images from the LAAW artists. If anything, LAAW is all about these. The entwinement of creative process, the many voices and stories of people and land, and the hours being together as a group of artists sharing both humor and distress over what we bear witness to. Relationships are ecological and this is truly where we have been as artists. Not in one particular location, but rather in relation, rooted to one and another, cultivating empathy, creative empowerment, and new forms of knowledge in action, in place.





2017 Itinerary August 21 – 24 // Seminars, UNM, Albuquerque, NM August 25 // Biocultura + Lannan Foundation Gallery, Santa Fe, NM August 28 – September 1 // Rio Grande Headwaters, CO September 2 – 5 // Mergirl Gardens, La Villita, NM September 6 – 12 // Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, Wild Rivers, NM September 18 // Creative Workshopping, UNM, Albuquerque, NM September 20 – 26 // Fracking Angel Peak + Eastern Navajo Agency + Chaco Canyon, NM September 27 – 28 // Glen Canyon Dam + Lake Powell, AZ September 29 – 5 // Bears Ears National Monument, Muley Point, UT October 11 // Creative Workshopping, UNM, Albuquerque, NM October 15 – 21 // Borderlands Restoration + US/Mexico Border Wall, AZ October 22 – 27 // Gila River + Gila Wilderness, NM October 28 – November 1 // White Sands National Monument, NM November 9 // Creative Workshopping, UNM, Albuquerque, NM November 9 // Santa Fe Art Institute Potluck with Equal Justice Resident Artists, Santa Fe, NM November 17// Creative Workshopping, UNM, Albuquerque, NM November 17 // SFAI140 Public Presentation, Santa Fe, NM November 22 // Creative Workshopping, UNM, Albuquerque, NM December 1 // Creative Workshopping, UNM, Albuquerque, NM December 4 – 14 // 2017 Land Arts of the American West Exhibition, UNM, Albuquerque, NM December 8 // Exhibition Discussion, UNM, Albuquerque, NM December 15 // LAAW Artist Presentations, UNM, Albuquerque, NM

2017 Artists Adele Ardent, University of New Mexico, BFA Candidate Viola Arduini, University of New Mexico, Art & Ecology MFA Candidate Issy Arnold, Glasgow School of Art, Sculpture & Environmental Art Candidate Amy Catherine Hulshoff, University of New Mexico, Ph.D. Candidate Alex Kinney, University of New Mexico, BFA Candidate Ruby Pluhar, Glasgow School of Art, Fine Art Photography Candidate Paul Ross, University of New Mexico, MLA Candidate Mikala Sterling, BFA Colorado College


2017 Visiting Guests and Partners Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM Biocultura, Santa Fe, NM Museum of Southwest Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM KB Jones, Brooklyn, NY Amy Pilling, Santa Fe, NM Bobbe Besold, Santa Fe, NM Subhankar Banerjee, Art & Ecology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM Ron Boyd, Mergirl Gardens, La Villita, NM Melisse Watson, SFAI Equal Justice Resident, Toronto, ON Syrus Marcus Ware, SFAI Equal Justice Resident, Toronto, ON Asha Canalos, New Mexico Story Power, Albuquerque, NM Gil Ngolé, SFAI Equal Justice Resident, Memphis, TN Daniel Tso, Dooda Fracking! Torreon, NM Sunny Dooley, Chi Chil’Tah, NM Jonah Yellowman, Utah Diné Bikéyah, Tselakai Dezza, UT Su-Ying Lee, Feminist Art Museum, Toronto, ON Xenia Benivolski, Feminist Art Museum, Toronto, ON Borderlands Restoration Leadership Institute, Patagonia, AZ German Quiroga, Patagonia Museum, Lochiel, AZ Orien MacDonald, Gila, NM Carolyn Strauss, Slow Research Lab, Amsterdam, NL Nina Elder, Albuquerque, NM

Faculty Jeanette Hart-Mann, Director LAAW, Assistant Professor Art & Ecology Ryan Henel, Field Coordinator, LAAW


Santa Fe Art Institute Partnership Land Arts of the American West and Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI) began a partnership in 2016 during the SFAI Water Rights Residency. Our partnership has been forged through our shared commitment supporting experimental, interdisciplinary, and collaborative spaces of creativity and the belief that socially and environmentally engaged artists and art create change. It is also founded on the idea that partnerships encourage diversity and strengthen community, while cultivating mutual support and expansive opportunities. In 2017, we continued our work together under the new SFAI thematic residency Equal Justice. LAAW sent out a call to all SFAI Resident Artists and selected three artists/collectives to participate in Field Investigations with LAAW. This opportunity provided these residents with the time/space to conduct bioregional research and work side by side with LAAW artists in the field. Later in the fall, LAAW artists presented at SFAI140, an evening of 20 artists talks, each 140 seconds in length. The culmination of this year’s partnership with SFAI will take place on Earth Day (April 17- 22) with the presentation of a collaborative public project. 2017 SFAI Visiting Resident Artists Syrus Marcus Ware, Melisse Watson, Gil Ngolé, and the Feminist Art Museum Syrus Marcus Ware and Melisse Watson are artists and performers with a history of collaborative practice. Syrus is a Vanier scholar, a visual artist, activist, curator and educator. He is a facilitator/designer at The Banff Centre and is the inaugural Daniel’s Spectrum Artist-in-Residence. Syrus is a core-team member of Black Lives Matter - Toronto. He uses painting, installation, and performance to explore black activist culture. Melisse is an activist, earthworker, and multidisciplinary artist, utilizing performance, visual, aural, and installation art to provoke socio-political change and thriving imagined futures for Black and Indigenous bodies. Melisse wrote, directed and performed in the award-winning show I Was Born White at the Toronto Fringe Festival in 2014. She has presented solo and collaborative visual and performance work at The Art Gallery of Ontario, The Gladstone Hotel, The Theatre Centre, The Drake Hotel, Harbourfront Centre, Daniel Spectrum, Buddies In Bad Times Theatre and at Pride Toronto. Gil Ngolé is a Memphis based artist, born in the Republic of the Congo-Brazzaville during the postcolonial era, a social and political environment that is an important source of inspiration. He got his BFA in painting and installation at Rueil-Malmaison’s College of Art in France and his MFA at the Memphis College of Art. His works have been shown at Musée du Mac-Val, Crosstown Arts Memphis, the Memorial Art Gallery, Season Moved Tops Gallery, and Midnight Walks Sumter Art Gallery. He is currently collaborating with Oxford University Department of Law, on the Border Criminologies project.


The Feminist Art Museum (FAM) secures space for women (women-identified and gender non-binary people) in contemporary art. Conceived of by Toronto based curators Xenia Benivolski and Su-Ying Lee, the project is currently in the research and development phase. “We are prioritizing feminist spatial practices that take responsibility to the land into account and will be foundational to our approach in working with organizations and artists to produce exhibitions, discursive events, and land-based art.� Xenia Benivolski is the founder of several collective art spaces, an international artist-in-residency program and sits on the curatorial committee for the 2017 Beijing Biennal. Su-Ying Lee is an independent curator. She has worked in a curatorial capacity in Canadian institutions and curated exhibitions across Canada and in Hong Kong.




SFAI140 We want to use this time to bring to you words that have been told to us. These words will be neither ours, nor someone else’s. They belong to the land around Angel Peak, New Mexico, where oil and gas extraction disrupt the health and relationships of all who live there.


Speaking plants seeds in the universe. When you speak it, it becomes real. This is real. Where does our breath go? Daniel said his Grandfather once walked him around a Hogan and told him the name of every single piece of wood used to build it. Sounds of fracking have concussed through my body on the walk here, but my heart beats back... After you left the dance continued and that night we had a beautiful dream. Marrow by Ursula Le Guin “There was a word inside a stone I tried to pry it clear, Mallet and chisel, pick and gad, Until the stone was dripping blood, But still I could not hear the word the stone had said. I threw it down beside the road Among a thousand stones And as I turned away it cried The word aloud within my ear And the marrow of my bones Heard, and replied” Feel the sinews in your feet, binding bone to flesh. Feel them knit your shins together.Your knees.Your hips and spine and ribs and your neck. Feel your hairs sprout from your head and each reach to touch its own star. What you do, do It fully. It may make you feel foolish but it will become your deepest wisdom. And it will be always yours. “you know better now” We just keep on going, because that’s what you do “It won’t happen tomorrow if it doesn’t start now, from this place” when it rains, it rains around it Viola Arduini, Issy Arnold, Paul Ross, Mikala Sterling. This text was performed as spoken word with the visual accompaniment of infrared video of oil and gas industry from Angel Peak, Greater Chaco Region, and Eastern Navajo Agency, New Mexico, 2017. 27


Land Arts of the American West Exhibition 2017

Adele Ardent Viola Arduini Issy Arnold Amy Catherine Hulshoff Alex Kinney Ruby Pluhar Paul Ross Mikala Sterling

December 4 - 14, 2017 Gallery Hours 9:00am - 4:45pm John Sommers Gallery University of New Mexico Albuquerque, New Mexico


Adele Ardent

I come back again and again to the places of tension in relationships, which is another way of saying that I come back to places of movement—places where needs and desires conflict or coalesce, where the thread of connection may snap entirely, or perhaps, where living beings may be knit into tighter interdependency. Over the course of the trips “out,” I’ve looked for ways to insert myself into the lives of the plants I’ve encountered, oftentimes in ways that were mutually uncomfortable. In Bears Ears, I delivered scarce water to desert plants by mouth, exposing their leaves to the enzymes in my saliva, and my tongue to cactus spines. In the Gila, my human collaborator Paul Ross and I carried the weight of a Leyland Cypress on our bodies: disrupting this plant’s desire for stable conditions, we alternated between animal action and plant rootedness. And although she was a tourist within the ecosystem of the Gila, “Tufty” served as our guide to the experiences of organisms alive in ways so different from us that their very aliveness is often invisible to humankind. Back in Albuquerque, Paul and I are developing creative experiments and performances that will allow us to build relationships with plants native to the banks of the Rio Grande. By inserting ourselves into the lifecycle of Coyote willows, we hope to reveal spaces for greater connection between human and non-human members of our local community: even a point of conflict holds the potential to become a touch point for compassion as jagged edges are worn down to softness through mutual action. We can see this at work in our relationship with other plants: corn, beans, squash, and others all sleep as we sleep. Our mutual history is one of control, as humans shaped these plants to our use, yet, because our predecessors bred them to thrive by spending the winter inside a cool, dark, and dry place, we may now tenderly share the intimate familial space of the bedroom. The Seed Quilt contains the germ of plants that will grow to feed family, friends, and myself next season. It provides a comfortable resting place for these seeds, close to the hands of the companions that will bear them into the damp sun-warmed ground in spring. I likewise will repose warmly through the winter, sheltered under the protective ground created by this fabric, with the comforting weight of the seeds on my body. 30


Viola Arduini I use digital photography, video, and installation to investigate the triadic relationships formed by humans, animals, and technology. In this, I aim to examine how human relations with animals and the environment are shaped and formed, and to question the position of power that we, as species, have given to ourselves. My engagement with the more-than-human starts with a deep sense of empathy, a powerful feeling that drives me both as an artist and individual. Empathy is the ability to connect the one with the other, to make one feeling within the skin of who is not self. Starting from this personal process of embracing the other, my work attempts to question the structures of relationships that we, as human, privilege when relating to other species. In particular, each of the works I developed during Land Arts represent an element of reflection on these broader ideas. It is an attempt to put skins in contact. Icarus is part of an ongoing project on animal vision, in particular avian perception of ultraviolet light. Using the camera as a prosthetic eye, I question the role that human vision has in controlling and categorizing the world and the more-than-human. The language I use in this work lies between opposites: personal sense of empathy and fascination with birds, science-based research in sensory ecology, and artistic representation as video and performative embodiment. I use elements usually perceived as contradictions, creating tensions and narratives in order to question the role we - as species - give to ourselves. The way humans perceive and think in the world has vision at its core; based on the Western idea that seeing is knowledge, and knowledge is control. Using my own body, visual technology, and ideas of the non-human, I want to blur the binary of human/animal, as well as doubt the very structure of the humanist world. Beauty Needs Protection, started as an emotional and physical reaction to the suffering and destruction we experienced in the Four Corners extraction zone. Looking at the bower bird ‘s action, aesthetics and logic, I question ideas such as protection, agency, self-determination, and intelligence in the non-human, and how humans relate to them. In front of the human failure in protecting individuals from their own and other species, I wonder if the more-than-human aesthetics and ethics could become an inspiration. How can humans intersect with different kinds of wisdom and learn from these? My last piece, For Those Who Can’t Escape, is a reflection on the ongoing loss of species in our current epoch. Studies on climate change reveal astonishing numbers of species, both vegetal and animal, that would be lost in the next few decades. In addition, almost 2 billion humans will be displaced. Using the space blanket as a symbol for both, the refugee and the impossibility of space travel, my aim in this work is to raise awareness and ask how we can save the only planet we have. 32


Issy Arnold

My work always comes from time spent playing and experimenting. For the last three months, this has meant a lot of walking around, following the sun, picking up rocks, sniffing leaves, dancing with the wind and sand, and singing to caves. The sky is so big here, it creates more space than I ever knew existed. At times I felt like a little grain of sand rolling around the vast open spaces of this place. Letting the wind carry me, sometimes into rivers and hot springs, sometimes over rolling rocks like the surface of the moon, into caves, and into the paths of wild hops and javelina. All these experiences inform my work equally, alongside videos of synchronized swimmers and people twirling signs by the side of the road. As an artist, I work in response to the saturation of information we live in, exploring the role of art as an antidote to this constant barrage of images and information. I try to absorb all these images and all of the information I get, from overhearing conversations on the bus to watching the moon set from atop a mesa. I value the importance of fun, togetherness, and shared experience and use my practice as a chance to create spaces that encourage people to play through interactive performances and installations. I created Rock Serenade as an exploration of these ideas, using the communal and easily recognizable language of the karaoke booth to create a moment of connection between the two people occupying the booth. I hope that bringing these ideas into a familiar context also offers the viewer a different way to communicate with the natural world, in this case, a rock. At the same time, it pokes fun at the unnatural relationship we have with our natural environment - the only natural thing in the installation being the rock itself. Travelling around the American Southwest over the course of this semester, I have witnessed the destructive power that this relationship has on our environment - from the old abandoned mines in Colorado to fracking in the Four Corners region to being at the site of the first atomic bomb detonation at White Sands - all the while passing billboards advertising McDonalds’ and stopping at gas stations selling three hotdogs for a dollar. Rock Serenade is a culmination of these experiences, inspiring me to create an absurd, but joyful work for the age of absurdity we find ourselves living in today. 34


Amy Catherine Hulshoff

This sculptural installation, titled Resource Privilege: A Product of My Environment, is a cast iron tub fashioned to function much like a traditional fountain. Recycling three gallons of water every two minutes, it simultaneously demonstrates the functionality of a check dam to slow and trap soil in the tub being eroded by running water. Check dams are man-made structures built from rocks and sticks within degraded environments to slow the erosive properties of fast moving water and counter desertification. This allows soil to resettle in place, repopulate vegetation, and increase local biodiversity. This piece works to embody and even essentialize how I have come to understand irrigated water as a privileged resource, the green washing power of terms like recycling, and creative problem solving between human intervention and ecologic agency. The fountain itself is constructed out of a plaster casted version of my own head and upper arms. A half-inch black rubber hose directs water through the back of my head and out of the mouth, irrigating four cactus plants. The water then runs through the soil and down the check dam to the drain. The reservoir under the tub houses and recycles the water back through this system. I have inserted myself in this bath to visually embody a structural path for water as an intimate place of privacy and privilege. It is no coincidence that the inclusion of my own female body is both personally and intentionally part and parceled. My body is commercially commoditized, not unlike water, as a privileged resource in a colonial paradigm. To embody water in a self-reflexive figural structure is not to decolonize it, just as I cannot decolonize my own body. Rather, it is an attempt to insert myself into a normally one-sided conversation: who and what has the “right� to natural resources? 36


Alex Kinney

When we returned to Albuquerque, I turned my attention toward collected materials from the field and how I could either alter or interact with them. These materials included bones from Muley Point, Utah, my field notes, and yucca roots from Angel Peak, New Mexico. Most important were the Travelin’ Bones, which seemed to take on a life of their own since I took them from Muley Point. The bones are beautiful. They each have personalities and their own energies. It wasn’t until one late night, in the Gila, that I woke up and realized I shouldn’t have stolen them from their final resting spot—an impulsive and inconsiderate act that haunted me. From then on, I paid more attention to the bones and tried listening to them. As I carried them around Albuquerque, I developed a relationship with them. My time in the field encouraged me to be more present with the things I collected and I promised the bones and myself that I would return them to Muley Point one day. The Land Arts experience also allowed me to work with digital media in ways I had not thought of before. Most important was my exhibition piece From You, To You. During my time in the field I began creating a large bank of images taken on my iPhone from each site. During our one-week breaks between field excursions, I would collage images between and within sites. The compositions of these collages were simple because I wanted to almost force a direct relationship between two or three photos or photos of text. At the time, these collages lived purely in the digital world until I began to question how I wanted them to exist as final pieces. Ultimately, they became postcards, which brought them outside the digital world and made them autonomous, tangible objects as opposed to being glued to the objectivity of a phone or computer. By doing this, the images have a more personalized presence because they inhabit a physical space separate from our digitized worlds. From You, To You is an interactive installation that allows viewers to write and submit postcards to be mailed by me. The printed collages interact with the U.S. Postal Service and are physically altered through the process of being mailed (stamped, scratched, bent, touched, printed on, etc.). I want the collages to inhabit the homes of viewers in a somewhat intimate manner (laying on a countertop, hanging on a refrigerator) so they might contemplate the relationship of the images and the life of the postcard during a more personal time. The back of the postcards have typed personal anecdotes written by me that are in relation to the images on the front and the sites they reference, so that viewers have the opportunity to investigate or relate to the places these images were taken. 38


Ruby Pluhar

My practice involves a range of materials and works across sculpture, photography, moving image, and installation. These processes enable much creative exploration when working in my desired workplace: out in the landscape. The landscape offers spatial potential and sensory experience which was influential to my practice while on Land Arts. I am particularly interested in the relationship between the human body and space. One project I have been working with involves an image of the body submerged in water printed onto a Plexiglas sheet. The Plexiglas allows light to pass through it, causing a striking reflection. I was drawn to bring this out into the landscape and play with it against a number of varying landscapes and watch how it transformed against different light and matter. This led to making a number of durational works, combining light, colour, and motion. At White Sands, I stabilized the Plexiglas upright and documented the passage of the reflection over a twelve hour period, documenting the passage from light to dark and the transition between colours when different intensities of light passed through it. This experiment allowed me to sit and dwell with the work, watching the Plexiglas relax and contract with the wind causing the reflection to bend and move. This motion enhanced the effect as the figure began to appear as if it were dancing or floating in the huge white expanse of space. At the Gila, I stabilized the Plexiglas between rocks and documented the reflection passing over water. Again the figure began to float in and out of focus as the winds caused rippling of water and erasure of the reflection. As it calmed again, it would come sharply into focus. In this work, I am interested in negating and registering time. I also have an infinite interest in people and their relationship to place, especially those that see place as something very fragile and desire to preserve it. Through portraiture, I translate a sensitivity to colour and texture to show my subjects rooted in place and sculpt stories that my subjects have to tell. During my time on Land Arts, I took portraits of most of the people that we worked with and tried to create a visual narrative of their story. For example, while working with Navajo storyteller Sunny Dooley and fracking activist, Daniel Tso, I took their portraits and then took photos of the landscape where I noticed symbols in the sky and rocks which give metaphor of the land being blown up to give context of the atrocities of oil and gas extraction happening to indigenous sacred lands. v 40


Paul Ross

My work has revolved around questions of lived relationships as they are manifest physically and systematically. I have tried to examine how living things move; that motion results in the collision of the physical, embodied, animate, intimate, and sentient. I have phrased these questions with my body, asking about the places and forces characteristic of these collisions by sitting, walking, crawling, building, and breathing. Simultaneously, I dipped my head into the concussive, corporeal world of sound as a tool for documenting, supplementing, and speaking to these bodily experiences. Different recording schema have guided my movements and my stillness. I have attempted to locate and magnify the limits of human experience, perception, and understanding by operating near these thresholds. Muley Point, Utah, is perched along the edge of a wide, thousand-foot-tall mesa. The mesa’s border outcrops are textured by a pattern of rectilinear cracks, reminiscent of a vast, sandstone ice cube tray. At the edge, the massive cubes of rock are hewn from their fellows to cascade down the mesa face, one every thousand years or so. This motion is driven by the cyclical freezing and thawing of water within the stone; ice expands with enough force to form fissures, widening the gap for more water to freeze there next year. I found a crack just large enough to permit my body entry, and I slid along it, exhaling to move forward, inhaling to push and to pause. In my small, fleshy way, I was asking about this cycle of freezing and thawing. Of expanding with stillness, pressure, persistence, and contracting with fluid grace. A dual screen video and audio piece communicates this experience. As an extension of investigations that took place in the field, Adele Ardent and I are enacting slow experiments to foster physically empathetic relationships with plant creatures. These have taken form as a series of performative vignettes centered around a set of textile tools for exploring both tenderness and competition within gestures of breath, repose, and soil-building during the winter dormancy period. Each vignette focuses participant attention on a handful of exchanges that we see as core to these relationships. These also hold potential to refer to the messier, non-linear tangle of real lives and how lives hold space for one another. 42


Mikala Sterling

My work in Land Arts began with a meditative practice: experiencing a space over prolonged periods of time. This resulted in video explorations of small-scale environmental changes over the course of a day as a series of sun maps. Resting on the idea of mapping the sun on a micro scale within a vast landscape, these videos give recognition and time to smaller systems that are equally present, active, and valuable. During our second field investigation, I began working with time-lapse as a means for capturing the changing and layered nature of light and shadow more consistently. Time-lapse became a way to highlight spatial and temporal shifts in time and existing routines of the micro that are perhaps seemingly inactive, leading to an understanding that plants exist in a differing time-process to humans. The practice of creating time-lapse videos became a tangible space for the ephemeral nature of a shadow to exist in an alternate manner, making these intimate time moments tangible, with intentions of initiating a pause within the viewer. The final film project titled, plant-time, attempts to present a non-human narrative by asking viewers to challenge or question their understanding of time. The film has two videos running simultaneously, sideby-side. The left window shows a compilation of time-lapse videos created throughout the semester with a focus on shadow revealing a passage of time from Muley Point, White Sands, and Albuquerque. The story arc travels from sunrise to sunset with repetitive shadow stories of midday time frames. It questions a linear understanding of time. The right window acts as a relative constant, featuring a “real-time� video with emphasis on surface reflection and moving light as a point of comparison. 44




Foundations for Breath Everything is breathing its way into everything else. Breath: oxygen and carbon and water. This process cannot be stopped. Winds and hands and words thrust through the border wall at nearby Nogales. Water penetrates rigid lines of earth, brushes its fingers across the undersides of roots and rocks, works curious fingers into every open place. A few days ago, some of us gave our breath to a mesquite tree rooted on the “Other Side” of the border wall, the delicate fronds draping down across the barrier into mouth’s reach… carbon and water free to travel their accustomed route into root. Yesterday, here, I lay with my back against eroding soil that used to be a road, a way for vehicles, now coming apart under the restless roaming of rain, a loose thread that the persistence of storms will pull until it unravels. I lay there with three stones on my belly, and when I started to giggle at the absurd sight I must have made, the water in my flesh (little rivulets of myosin) laughed them off, sent them tumbling back to the ground: The stones we placed today are not barriers, but the foundations for a home made entirely of doors, where the water can laugh itself, breath itself, back into vivid soil. Any attempt at impermeability will be torn apart. The things that want in, that need in, (And there are many things that want in: air, water, love, pain) will find a way in, will find a way to insinuate themselves into the larger body of the world, as each breath panted today in exertion will find its way through air into root. Our work here was in easing the passage of breath, of living things growing one into the other. Adele Ardent Wildlife Corridor, Patagonia, AZ October 20, 2017 Land Arts of the American West blog: 48


Photo Captions Page 1 Jeanette Hart-Mann, Highland Mary Lakes, CO, 2017 Page 2 Ruby Pluhar, Muley Point, UT, 2017 Page 3 Amy Catherine Hulshoff, White Sands, NM, 2017 Page 4-5 Sunrise Sunset, Bears Ears National Monument, Jeanette Hart-Mann and Ryan Henel. HD Video, projection, digital photograph, 2017. Photo - Jeanette Hart-Mann Page 8 Adele Ardent, Fracking Truck, Eastern Navajo Agency, NM, 2017 Jeanette Hart-Mann, Angel Peak, NM, 2017 Jeanette Hart-Mann, Fracking Site, Eastern Navajo Agency, NM, 2017 Page 9 Issy Arnold, Fracking Site, Eastern Navajo Agency, NM, 2017 Page 10 Adele Ardent, Mikala working at Cunningham Gulch, CO Page 11 Jeanette Hart-Mann, KB Jones presenting at Biocultura in Santa Fe, NM, 2017 Ryan Henel, Cordage workshop with Orien MacDonald at the Gila, NM, 2017 Adele Ardent, Perspective Maps at Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, NM, 2017 Page 12 Jeanette Hart-Mann, German Quiroga discussing the border wall at Lochiel, AZ, 2017 Jeanette Hart-Mann, Glen Canyon Dam, Page, AZ, 2017 Jeanette Hart-Mann, Ron Boyd discussing corn development at Mergirl Gardens, La Villita, NM, 2017 Page 13 Jeanette Hart-Mann, Fracking Site, Eastern Navajo Agency, NM, 2017 Page 14 Jeanette Hart-Mann, Feast, LAAW Collaborative Project at Mergirl Gardens, La Villita, NM, 2017 Page 15 Jeanette Hart-Mann, Gleaning at Mergirl Gardens, La Villita, NM, 2017 Jeanette Hart-Mann, Feast Mosaic, Mergirl Gardens, La Villita, NM, 2017 Jeanette Hart-Mann, Ryan Scything Rye, Mergirl Gardens, La Villita, NM, 2017 Page 16 Jeanette Hart-Mann, Collecting Giant Sacaton Seed with Borderlands Restoration Leadership Institute, AZ, 2017 Jeanette Hart-Mann, Agave Field, Patagonia, AZ, 2017 Jeanette Hart-Mann, BRLI Native Plant Nursery, Patagonia, AZ, 2017 Page 17 Jeanette Hart-Mann, Earthwork, LAAW Collaborative Project with BRLI, Patagonia, AZ, 2017 Page 18-19 Jeanette Hart-Mann, Fractivist Daniel Tso and SFAI Visiting Artist Gil NgolĂŠ, Eastern Navajo Agency, NM, 2017


Page 23 Jeanette Hart-Mann, SFAI Visiting Artists Melisse Watson and Syrus Marcus Ware, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, 2017 Page 24-25 Jeanette Hart-Mann, LAAW artists presenting at SFAI140, Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM, 2017 Page 26 Viola Arduini, Video still from SFAI140 performance, Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM, 2017 Page 28-29 Icarus, Viola Arduini. UV and visible light video projection on acetate, 2017. Photo - Jeanette Hart-Mann Page 31 Seed Quilt, Adele Ardent. Recycled fabric, earth pigment dyes, seeds from Glass Gem corn, Rio Zape beans, gray zucchini, Lucid Gem tomatoes, Tesuque chile, dark purple opal basil, Red Aztec spinach, and magdalena acelgas, 2017 Page 33 Viola Arduini, Still image from video, interaction with the bower at Angel Peak, Four Corners, 2017 Page 35 Rock Serenade, Issy Arnold, Rock. Karaoke videos, space blanket, neon rope light, microphones, curtain hooks, 2017. Photo – Jeanette Hart-Mann Page 37 Resource Privilege: A Product of My Environment, Amy Catherine Hulshoff. Cast iron tub, plaster, silicone, plastic refuse, rubber hosing, water, soil, rocks, cactus, motorized pump, 2017 Page 39 From You, To You, Alex Kinney. Digital images on postcards, 2017 Page 41 Emerald and Gold, Ruby Pluhar. 120mm film scan, Gila, 2017 Page 43 Splitting Stone - Muley Point, Utah (video still), Paul Ross. A performed inquiry into the process of freeze-thaw erosion that drives the formation of mesas in Southern Utah. My body, bedrock, crack in the rock. Video footage - Viola Arduini Page 45 plant-time (video still), Mikala Sterling. HD video, 00:05:28, 2017 Page 46 Paul Ross, Mikala sketching, Angel Peak, NM, 2017 Page 47 Jeanette Hart-Mann, A poem gifted to us by German Quiroga, Lochiel, AZ, 2017 Page 49 Adele Ardent, Mesquite tree rooted on the other side, Lochiel, AZ, 2017 Page 52-53 Jeanette Hart-Mann, 2017 LAAW Exhibition, John Sommers Gallery, UNM, Albuquerque, NM, 2017 Page 55 Issy Arnold, Ruby and Alex working at the Headwaters of the Rio Grande, CO, 2017 Page 56 Jeanette Hart-Mann, Highland Mary Lakes, CO, 2017





Editor, design, and production: Jeanette Hart-Mann Printer: Starline Printing INC, Albuquerque, NM Land Arts of the American West 2017 is copyright Š 2018 Land Arts of the American West / UNM All images and texts copyright Š 2018 the artists, authors, and photographers Production of this catalog was made possible through contributions from Lannan Foundation Land Arts of the American West: to inspire and support environmentally and socially engaged art practices through field-based bioregional teaching, collective learning, interdisciplinary research, community collaboration, and creative forms of publication and exhibition. Website: Blog: Email:

Land Arts of the American West University of New Mexico Department of Art, Art & Ecology MSC 04 2560 1 University of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 87131-00011 01-505-277-5861 54



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