In the heart of Sunset Park, within the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, BioBAT Art Space stands as a pioneering gallery that blurs the lines between art and science. The current exhibition, Embodied Futures & the Ecology of Care, Curated by Elena Soterakis & Eve Barro, showcases eleven artists whose work merges research methods and materials from scientific practices such as genetics, mycology, microscopy, and bacterial cultivation with artistic creation. By using living yeast as their palette and mushrooms as their sculpting medium, these artists challenge conventional artistic norms.
Susan Hoffman Fishman and Leslie Sobel met in 2019 at a virtual “mixer” sponsored by SciArt Initiative for artists and scientists who either were already working together or who wanted to work together collaboratively. Hoffman and Sobel quickly determined that their mutual interests in water and the climate crisis overlapped. Looking for ways to collaborate, they applied for and were awarded a joint residency in 2021 during the height of the COVID pandemic at Planet Labs, a global satellite imaging company based in San Francisco. Planet had created its residency program to see what happened when artists were given access to their scientists and satellite resources. Because of COVID, the three-month residency ended up being entirely virtual.
Grace Mitchell-Eternal Return IV, Oil on panel, 30”x30”, 2022
The deep, rich colors and textures of Grace Mitchell’s oil paintings will draw you in, but it’s often the title that sets you thinking. Interweaving layers of color glow through the marsh grasses in her newest series, Watershed Assessment. You could get lost in the sheer beauty of these paintings with their glints of tidal water and shadowy mountains looming in the distance, all saturated with a moist, misty atmosphere that seems to glow with fecundity. But the title gives pause. These lush, luminous landscapes are meant to be “assessed,” and careful observation finds them full of scars and flaws.
Rachel Frank is a Brooklyn-based artist whose practice includes sculpture, video, and performance. Her art explores our shifting perspectives towards natural history, climate change, and relationships with non-human species. She grew up near Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, the birthplace of American paleontology, where large mammoth and other megafauna fossils were found, altering Western views on extinction and evolution. She works as a staff wildlife care manager at The Wild Bird Fund, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Manhattan.
Donna Zarbin-Byrne, Like Water from a Rock. Here Once Was Ocean, still image from augmented reality animation. Photo courtesy, Donna Zarbin-Byrne
In her installation-based exhibition, Like Water from a Rock, at Arts Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX, Donna Zarbin-Byrne responds to the landscapes of the Chihuahuan desert of West Texas and the West Maui mountains, connecting material sites with an internal process. Western art traditions often portray the landscape as an idealized place to conquer and expand. Zarbin-Byrne frames the landscape as a place to experience the sensate.
With her public sculptures, Jean Shin makes powerful statements about the climate crisis out of discarded and obsolete materials. She often engages communities in her materials sourcing, mixing social practice into her public sculpture practice to create platforms for discussion. Ingenious and esthetically considered, her works show novel ways to engage with the climate crisis.
A founder of Rhizome, Mark Tribe is known for his early contributions to the field of new media art and his socially-engaged performances and installations. His current practice engages the power of aesthetic experience to illuminate the challenges we and future generations will face in the climate crisis. Since 2012, he has made landscape pictures that unpack American ideas about nature and land, from Manifest Destiny to contemporary environmentalism. In this interview, Mark talks about his views on the climate, his landscapes, and his integration of machine learning tools (AI) into his latest project Learning to Love the Future.
On April 23rd, Earth Day, 2023, at the Catskill Art Space in Livingston Manor, NY, I moderated a panel on artists’ responses to the climate crisis titled “Envisioning Adaptation.” The panel was one of the many events the director of the CAS, Sally Wright, has hosted at the arts and performance space newly refurbished in 2022. The concept for the symposium was to create a forum of artists whose practices addressed the idea of adaptation to, as opposed to mitigation of, the climate crisis. The panel participants included David Brooks, Simone Couto, Alexandra Hammond, Brian Kelley, and J. Morgan Puett.
It consists of nature walks and community interventions in the gallery and various locations throughout the Bay Ridge community from April 15 through June 17, 2023. Art Spiel will feature a series of interviews related to this project throughout its duration, here with artist Nancy Nowacek.
It consists of nature walks and community interventions in the gallery and various locations throughout the Bay Ridge community from April 15 through June 17, 2023. Art Spiel will feature a series of interviews related to this project throughout its duration, here with artist Peter Edlund.