• Scott Baker

ViVA presents at The Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS) conference

On July 1, 2021, Dr. Natalie Marsh moderated a panel of four exceptional artists as part of ViVA’s organizational launch. ViVA is a nonprofit education and curatorial platform connecting internationally-recognized artists and projects emphasizing women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and social justice to diverse students, educators, and communities across all disciplines and ages. Dr. Marsh is the Executive Director and Chief Curator of ViVA.

The session brought together four intersectional artists and collectives to discuss how artist-originating community-based environmental work is relevant to interdisciplinary integration, communication, green recovery and environmental justice, diversification of sustainability, and the development of sustainable foodways.

Those artists included:

Des Moines-based artist Jordan Weber, who designed “4M Malcolm X Greenhouse” on a superfund site in Omaha, Nebraska where Malcom X was born. He was inspired by the teachings of the black leader, the greenhouse hosts spiritual and meditation programs, plant distributions, EPA-lead remediation and phytomediation, workshops for urban sustainability, and medicinal food supply, all overlooking 17 acres of native grassland.

The creative team desertArtLAB (April Bojorquez and Matt Garcia, Assistant Prof., Dominican College of CA), who have reclaimed lost native epistemologies through their research about indigenous Sonoran desert food practices. They have extended their research into several community-based practices: a cookbook, distribution of restorative desert cacti and seed mixes, and the ecological restoration of a vacant lot in Phoenix where 40% of urban lots remain barren.

Jane Marsching, Professor and Sustainability Fellow at MassArt, who collaborated with Boston University scientists and scholars in her easily replicable rooftop Carbon Farm project, capturing the “hot air” of academia to grow vegetables.

Kathy High, Professor of Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who brings together science, technology and art in her leadership role with Nature Lab, located in a converted abandoned building and dedicated to grassroots citizen science and home to the Water Justice Lab, People’s Health Sanctuary, and Hudson Mohawk Environmental Action Network.

Each artist and collective shared introductory comments contextualizing their practices, before inviting a conversation about the relevance of the arts to environmental education, particularly through their new partnership with ViVA Virtual Visiting Artists, a national nonprofit serving higher education concerned with curriculum and community teaching about climate change and environmental justice.

Video of the full session is now available:

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