Rachel Havrelock is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where she directs the UIC Freshwater Lab. The Freshwater Lab generates research on transboundary water systems and policy on climate change adaptation; trains a new generation of water leaders; and creates public-facing media like the Backward River and Freshwater Stories digital platforms.
Dr. Coté is the author of Spirits of Our Whaling Ancestors: Revitalizing Makah and Nuu-chah-nulth Traditions (UW Press, 2010). Her other publications include, “Indigenizing” Food Sovereignty. Revitalizing Indigenous Food Practices and Ecological Knowledges in Canada and the U.S.,” and “Food Sovereignty, Food Hegemony, and the Revitalization of Indigenous Whaling Practices” She is currently completing her next book that focuses on the revitalization of Indigenous food traditions and ancestral ecological knowledge.
People often think that nature ends where the city begins. My projects are designed to allow a site within the built environment to tell its ecological story to the people that inhabit it. As a sculptor, my interest in the natural world rests both in art and science. I use art as a vehicle for translating the patterns and processes of the natural world.
In my practice, I search for sites that provide the opportunity to make visible some of the forces at work on the site. Interested in watersheds, tides, growth and erosion, I make projects that show how nature functions in an urban setting. My previous projects have been about invisible microorganisms and their complicated relationships of eating and being eaten; spiraling hydrological patterns of a stream, mosaic of growth in a vacant lot, prevailing winds and their effects on vegetation, the flow of rainwater through a building.
Subjectivity and objectivity oscillate in interesting ways when one looks closely at the natural systems that make up our world. Aspects that may at first appear fixed and unchanged by the human world take on personal and fungible features when closely observed. This has been my experience in my investigations of trees, wind and most significantly, water.
Much of my artwork begins with a quasi-scientific approach. I measure volumes and speeds and depths and so on, creating lists of data from which I build projects. That information, which is for the most part taken as objectively as possible, gives shape to my sculptures, drawings, videos and photographs.
Lisa Reindorf combines knowledge from architecture and environmental science in her artwork. Her paintings examine the environmental impact of climate change on water. In aerial view landscapes, she creates interpretations of coastal areas – in particular rising seas and sinking cities.
There is an inherent conflict between nature and building. Built architectural systems are often intrusive and not in harmony with the environment. Nature responds with floods, storm surges and rising seas. Although this presents a pessimistic commentary on global warming, the artist feels that building more in harmony with natural water systems can ameliorate the deleterious effects on both systems.
As a writer for art publications she comments on art and environmental issues. She is also a visiting artist at universities and frequent lecturer on how artists interpret climate change.
Painting, using tools of color and composition, can be an aid to societal change. Art accesses another way of knowing, and it takes both rationality and emotional connection to create lasting change. I have been painting the surface of moving water for years; fascinated by its infinite variety; and its centrality to all of life. Visual art can bypass linear thinking. Color directly affects the unconscious mind, and our emotions. Game makers know that images are a form of direct mental targeting. When the subject is water, that target can be our heart, our sense of connection, and our intuition.
Our bodies are mostly water, and we are an intimate part of the hydrological cycle. Think about this when you first awaken – we are all water filters. We intrinsically know this, and that all life depends on water. Looking at water, or a painting of water, resonates emotionally in our bodies and minds, offering the possibility of thinking as water.
what is ecoartspace?
ecoartspace has served as a platform for artists addressing environmental issues since 1999. Patricia Watts and Amy Lipton have curated over 60 art and ecology exhibitions combined, and have organized, as well as participated in, over 100 ecoart programs and events.
Starting 2020, Watts decided to transition to a membership-based organization. Students, artists, advocates, professionals, galleries and institutions are invited to join who are concerned about the natural world. Together, we as a community can both imagine and help make real, a healthy future.