My capstone topic has shifted significantly over the past few years. Originally, I planned on writing about and researching regenerative agriculture and other tensions between the pursuit of an ecologically sound agricultural system and the necessity for high crop yields. This year, I decided to focus more on synthesizing what I learned through my studio art major with ENVS. A majority of the classes I took outside of the ENVS department were art or art history classes and I wanted to practice synthesizing my two majors.
During my time in college I witnessed a shift towards environmental art entering more mainstream circles. There is an interesting activist thread that runs through this trend which sparks my interest. I am drawn instances of artists creating prototypes under the guise of artwork that change the landscape of what is perceived to be important and plausible. Examples of this include Mary Mattingly’s floating food forest in New York City, Swale, 2013 which inspired the creation of the first public food forests in the Bronx. Mel Chin’s Revival Field, 1991-present is a well known example of artwork that becomes a demonstration of possible ways of remediating polluted land by removing heavy metals such as cadmium, zinc, and nickel through the root systems of plants. The metals are then extracted from the incenerated plants for future use.
Interest in these experiments at the intersection or art and science led me to explore different theories related to activist art, symbolic action, different materialisms, and artistic expression in the Anthropocene. At first, I places focus on narratives of the Anthropocene and how artists were engaging in discussion about it as a concept. As I researched and interviewed more artists, my interest shifted towards how the spaces artists were working in. I was interested in how the accessibility of these spaces and how these spaces are seen and experienced contribute to the possibility for an artwork to translate into concrete social action. I thought this was one of the most intriguing patterns I came across in my reachers and decided to shift the focus of my capstone slightly to focus on this topic. As of now my current framing question is: What are the spaces for art in the Anthropocene? My curent focus question is: How are gallery and public art spaces effective in setting a precedent for environmental action?
I am looking foreward to continuing my capstone development as I restructure and focus my current draft.