John Sabraw

John Sabraw’s Toxic Sludge Paintings, 2015

He works with scientists in Ohio to remove the iron from the water collected in abandoned coal mines and through a drawn out process, creates oil paint and acrylic paint by mixing toxic iron pigments with binders.

Article: “The Principles of Sustainability in Contemporary Art”

In this article, Maja and Reuben Fowkes, elucidate the differences between environmental and sutainable art, discuss the origins of and departure from 1970s Land Art movement, and present artwork examples of grass-roots democracy coincidng with social responsiblity.

A summation of their main point:

“Sustainable art is arguably a wider concept than environmental art, which is primarily focussed on remedying ecological problems, recycling, and the healing of nature. While in contemporary living we have a greater understanding of sustainability in our everyday choices (or the lack of them), contemporary artists increasingly take on the role of alternative knowledge producer, involved in ‘producing, mediating, and exchanging alternative models and dealing with issues that are marginalised in mainstream culture and politics.’ [10] The artistic engagement with sustainability entails an understanding of ecological equality, a shift from the anthropocentric model to include the non-human world in our moral universe, a renewed sense of social responsibility, as well as a concern for grassroots democracy, and draws on radical critiques of art and society and the dematerialised practices of conceptual art to offer sustainable alternatives in art and life.

Fowkes, Maja and Reuben. “The Principles of Sustainability in Contemporary Art.” First published in Praesens: Contemporary Central European Art Review 2006/1

Helen Mayer and Newton Harrison

“Widely known as the parents of the eco-art movement, the Harrisons have become world-renowned for using art to tackle environmental problems on a massive, global scale. Over more than four decades, the Santa Cruz-based husband-and-wife team have inspired the public to get behind environmental issues, from climate change to the impact of urbanization on the ecosystem — and on occasion have even successfully helped to bring about high-level environmental policy change.”

Among the amny projects is a 50 year long environmental art collaboration between the Harrisons, scientists, and members of the Washoe Tribe at UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field Station in the Eastern Sierra Nevada.  It involves moving groups of plant species to hibernate in an effort to increase resiliency to the rising temperatures of climate change and higher altitudes.

Felix’s colleague, Jeff Brown, says the Harrisons’ art — for instance, the huge, colorful, topographical maps they create for many of their projects — helps transform cold science into a meaningful story. “They’re allowed to get visceral,” Brown says. “They’re allowed to get emotive. They’re allowed to connect with people in ways science just can’t.”1


Continue reading “Helen Mayer and Newton Harrison”

Eve S. Mosher

Seeding the City, “A Plan for Greening the Urban Expanse”

IMG_3167-1From the proejct asks: “Why have just one roof with 1,000 square feet of green, when you can have 1,000 roofs with 1 square foot of green? (Or in this case, about 4 square feet and a flag!) The project is about POTENTIAL. Each installation is a seed of potential – potential for community action, potential for more green space, potential for change!”

Seeding the City is a large-scale public art project that capitalizes on community building to introduce urban environmental issues and remediation tools. It attempts to make more green the urban fabric and more environmentally-savvy the city inhabitants.