| May 17, 2022|
|900 Fallon Street Oakland, CA|
Art that Addresses Environmental & Social Justice Issues
ECOART MATTERS CLASS-Spring 2022
Santol Abi | Ash Cable | Vivien Feyer | Victoria Gongora | Naomi Kushins | Jessica Kwok
Francis Sutphin | Noah Tenney | Lisa Zebrack
EcoArt Matters students have chosen the title Earthcult: Activate as a light-hearted metaphor where we identify as a cult that loves Earth, with a sarcastic nod to a dystopian, robotic world where this cult of Earth lovers takes creative action, as part of our ecoart practice. Several of the students in our EcoArt Matters class, Santol Abi, Naomi Kushins, Jessica Kwok, and Yuko Leong made installation-based artwork that critically responds to our crisis levels of consumption and the resulting plastic pollution proliferation and solid waste production, while creatively reusing those materials. Vivian Feyer’s mask project takes practical action to re-create protective face masks during a global pandemic, or help broken succulent plants to regenerate and proliferate, while offering a simple action of repair. Some students in the class have made kinship with our relatives with better-than-human beings. Ash Cable connects us to her old friends, the Joshua Trees, Leslie Plato Smith’s paintings illustrate the interconnection of sentient human beings with sentient animal beings and makes homes for bees. Lisa Zebrack makes paper cuts to celebrate her love of Mother Nature in her illustrations of trees, flowers, butterflies, and animals. Francis Sutphin has created a research-based digital art game that examines our connection to the urban energy grid, making visible that is a constant part of our lives. Victoria Gongora’s sculpture and performance work makes space for loss and grief in the face of endless war, species extinction, and cascading climate catastrophe. Paloma Pavel has concentrated on community engagement, disability access in a public park, and its intersections with ancestral Indigenous land. Noah Tenney has done past projects on bleaching of coral reefs, and disability access in a changing climate, and has kept us guessing about the focus of his current project this semester. Finally, Michelle Miller Phelps has acted as our EcoArt Matters class reporter, faithfully creating images and text informed and inspired by the weekly guest artists, scholars, and activists who have visited our hybrid Zoom classroom this semester. Our guest presenters deepened our understanding of prisons and restorative justice, homelessness and tiny homes, refugee communities, ecological grief, decolonization, rematriation anf Indigenous resurgence, environmental justice and Black wellness, food security and local food gardens, local natural history, species extinction, ocean health and coral bleaching, plastic pollution, restorative justice, disability arts, arts activism, and the role of art as a powerful tool for transformation and change.
EcoArt Matters artworks have been informed by a full semester of educational and emotionally charged discussions, site visits, guest speaker presentations, films, readings, artmaking, and ending the semester with attending the three-day Bioneers Conference. Every EcoArt Matters class develops a group personality depending on the individuals involved. This group was unique, made of especially compassionate, questioning, and creative spirits, who were willing to go deeper into art making that allows spaces for grieving, as an important component of our personal and global resiliency. We, as instructors, are proud of this group, and each individual student that helped to create Earthcult: Activate. At a time when the political atmosphere is volatile, the environmental future is uncertain and frightening, we are in need of such intelligent, compassionate, and creative artists to give heartful voice to the urgent issues we face.
Minoosh Zomorodinia & Sharon Siskin, Co-Instructors/Co-Conspirators,
Andrée Singer Thompson, Guest Artist, EcoArt Matters, Laney College, Oakland, CA