The new EcoArt in Action (2022) book is highly recommended for creative practitioners, educators, curators, art historians and cultural policy makers – who are recognising the enormous cultural shift that ecological priorities bring to creative practice, arts education and cultural policy. EcoArt in Action is an essential, accessible text for art college libraries, art galleries and art museum shops.
During my oral exam for my Creative Practice-led PhD in 2016, I was surprised to learn from my examiner about the International EcoArt Network established in 1999. While I had known of the website for this network and that it listed leading international ecoartists’ work (ecoartnetwork.org), I was completely unaware of the extent of behind-the-scenes activity of its members. Durning my exam I was asked if I wished to be nominated to this important group and be part of a private listserv email group that allows members to keep up-to-date and post developments to other members across the world. You can imagine how working for many years without many colleagues in Ireland, what my response was 🙂
When I became part of the EcoArt Network I was able to look over the shoulders of many leading ecological art practitioners, educators, curators, researchers and policymakers from around the world and share my work to an interested professional community. I was heartened and simply astonished by the wealth of experience and researched gathered and developed by members since the early 1970s, especially as I had struggled to develop my durational ecological art practice despite attending a leading art college in Ireland.
So I was delighted that not long after I had joined that there was an invitation to all international EcoArt members to contribute to the first ever comprehensive Ecological Art Practice book.
Now in 2022, after 5 years of dedicated work by four ecoart members who helped organise and edit all the contributions: Amara Geffen, Ann Rosenthal, Chris Fremantle and Aviva Rahmani, this significant book, Ecoart in Action (2022) is now available from New Village Press, New York and as an ebook version. It is a joy to see the final print version and have to hand the deep experience, insights, tried-and-tested ecoart learning exercises, conceptual ideas and case studies.
To my mind EcoArt in Action is a seminal text for the emergent and essential ecological art field. While developed ecological art practices were apparent in the late 60s, such work has long being marginalised in contemporary art until the last few years (I cover the historic reasons for this in my Haumea Ecoversity Essential Ecoliteracy course but in brief, ecological insights radically challenge the intentions and form of creative practice and have significant import for the creative sector overall).
My contribution to the book is in the ‘Provocation’ section and centered on my work as at that time. My head was still very much in sharing how my Hollywood Forest Story and review of the Harrisons’ Serpentine Lattice forest work could be clarified by the Guattari ecosophy – action research method framework that I had developed during my doctoral research. I’m also delighted that my colleague at the Burren College of Art, Co. Clare, Dr Eileen Hutton, contributed to the ‘Case Studies’ section – ‘Beyond the Pale: Ecoart Pedagogy at Burren College of Art’.
I’ll leave you with the final paragraph of the EcoArt in Action book’s introduction:
“Ecoart has emerged from a long and deep history, integrating methods and theories from the visual arts, sciences (hard and soft), and environmental, social justice, and community-based movements. Responding to the urgencies of the Anthropocene (and I would add to envision the Symbiocene), ecoartists apply traditional, novel, and emerging technologies, practices, and knowledge to address the challenges of our uncertain future.
We invite you to join us in the “Work That Reconnects,” which Joanna Macy tells us is designed to “help people uncover and experience their innate connections with each other and with the systemic, self-healing powers of the web of life, so that they may be enlivened and motivated to play their part in creating a sustainable civilization.” – EcoArt in Action (2022) pp.6-7.
Each member’s contribution provides models for ecoart practice that are adaptable for use within a variety of classrooms, communities, and contexts. Learn more about the authors here.
Please do feel free to share this post, as this topic is beyond urgent for the creative sector. Do let me know if you have got a copy or have suggested it for your college library or museum. Thank you!