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.
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.
From its founding in 2009 by Maddy Rosenberg, CENTRAL BOOKING has focused on the exploration between art and science with emphasis on aspects of the environment and social justice issues. In many collaborative projects with organizations such as the New York Academy of Medicine and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, artists researched their work in the collections, libraries and grounds of these institutions and exhibited the resulting work in several venues. Rosenberg says that after years of living along the Brooklyn waterfront of Buttermilk Channel and incorporating the imagery into her own work, she sensed it was time to take a deeper dive into the ecosystems of the Brooklyn waterfront and the last surviving section of functioning port within New York City’s boundaries. The life along the harbor integrates the wildlife, land and neighborhoods of human-made architectural elements seemed to her like “a perfect barometer for exploring climate change”. A collaboration with the New-York Historical Society was a natural step, as their collections preserve many of the earlier roots along the way to the transformations we live with today. Rosenberg says that in addition, by forging partnerships with other area organizations such as Kentler International Drawing Space, Pioneer Works and the RETI Center, the project became truly emblematic of the Brooklyn Waterfront.
Izabela Gola is an artist, curator of visual arts and design, and climate activist through her cultural programs. She was born in Poland and her background is visual arts, art history, and interior design. She came to the US to study art, and graduated with an MFA Degree from Hunter College in New York. She joined the Polish Cultural Institute New York in 2016 and has collaborated with Wanted Design since 2017. Her own art practice is multidisciplinary and she says this approach is important also in her curatorial capacity. She investigates structures of memory and identity as mediated through porcelain sculpture, video, and installation art. She also co-hosts a podcast called I Art New York on Radio Free Brooklyn.
Eva Davidova makes new media works that focus on ecological disaster, our interdependence as a species, and the political implications of technology which she unpacks with performative works rooted in the absurd. She imagines the paradox that one day our descendants–human or cyborg–will be constructing our reality as a simulation, and asks: “If we are the games our children will program one day, can we influence the code they are writing?”
In the fall of 2019, Meagan Woods, an interdisciplinary artist working in dance, theatre and costume design, attended an arts/science event at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada where she was an MFA student. She was both alarmed and inspired by what she learned about the critical condition of coral reefs around the world caused by climate change. In response, she assembled a team consisting of four colleagues in the MFA Interdisciplinary Arts program and a New-Jersey based visual artist to create what eventually became an innovative, experimental opera/installation called Once She Dries. Besides Woods, the collaborative includes pianist and composer, Casper Leerink; filmmaker, photographer and installation artist, Xinyue Liu; violinist and composer, Kourosh Ghamsari-Esfahani; musician and actress, Amanda Sum; and sculptor and installation artist, Nancy Cohen.