A Wilderness Science and Art Collaboration

Aldo & Leonardo, a partnership between Colorado Art Ranch and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, is a project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The project is inspired by the scientific wisdom of Aldo Leopold and the artistic genius of Leonardo da Vinci. Our endeavor is an interdisciplinary collaboration of artists and scientists designed to celebrate the lands, resources and opportunities protected by the Wilderness Act. In 2013, we are hosting one-month residencies in six diverse wilderness areas. Artists will work alongside wildland research scientists and gain firsthand knowledge of the wonders, complexities and challenges of our nation's wildest places. The result will be a body of work that creatively illustrates the value of wild areas and honors the scientific efforts to preserve wilderness for the next fifty years.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Upcoming Collaborator Introduction: Katherine Ball


 Hello blogosphere,

I will be one of the art collaborators for the upcoming Aldo and Leonardo Wilderness Art+Science Collaboration in the Boundary Waters Canoe and Wilderness Area on the border of Northern Minnesota and Canada from September 15 to October 15.

I am writing to you from Vienna where I am collaborating with the Refugee Protest movement here to create some visual imagery for their efforts to address how migration—spurred by globalization, capitalism and genocide—is complicated further by a biased asylum system. I didn't really understand what the words "Refugee Protest" meant until I got here and saw how the refugees have come together to stand up for their right to have rights. Many of the refugees are from Pakistan, Kashimir, Waziristan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They have left their home countries because of US drone attacks bombing their villages or because they were politically active in their countries and were listed on hit lists for organizing against the Taliban or state repression. Yesterday, I was talking with a student activist from Kashmir, listening to his stories of his political organizing at his university and thinking how similar his stories are to my stories of the organizing I was doing at my university in the US—and yet I am not in jeopardy of losing my life, but he is. Oh this game of life we are playing depends so much on chance. The luck that I was born in the US and he was born in Kashmir. As I look up and thank my lucky stars, I wonder if their constellation will shift its form if the US government continues to construct a modus operandi to assassinate US citizens...

Beyond the borders of countries, I am looking forward to exploring the permeability of the borders of my body and the wilderness during this art+science collaboration. After all, I am a habitat for fungi and bacteria located on planet Earth. Just as waves move an ocean, our collective movements swirl with experiments in alternatives to the dominant discourse, which have included: bicycling across the US to interview Americans working on small-scale solutions to the climate crisis, living in an off-grid floating island building mushroom filters to clean a polluted lake, and studying the behaviors of various species acting as the ecological counterpart to civil disobedience.

Here is the proposal I made to the Aldo and Leonardo Wilderness Art+Science Collaboration — I would also love to hear your ideas for what kind of artwork I could make in the BWCA! Just comment to this post if you have any or email me at kb@katherineball.com —

I would like to create a series of two-dimensional works that address challenges specific to the Boundary Waters, such as sulfide mining, logging, roadless areas, and climate change. The works would incorporate hand-cut paper, pen and ink drawing, botanical illustrations and text. Ideally, I would like to be able to research these issues during the residency, or if that is not possible then I will do it in advance of the residency. If accepted for this residency, I will contact local environmental organizations in advance, such as Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, to see how works of art could be useful for their efforts, such as how the imagery could be used in talks they give, on their website and printed matter. I will incorporate their input into how I design the works of art. I will create an installation of these two-dimensional works and objects from to the Boundary Waters and my research that can be photo documented. Ideally, I would also like to exhibit this installation in the Twin Cities, but that would require further outreach and planning. 

Here are some questions I have.:

What would be a good organization to work with?  I typically like to work with smaller, but extremely engaged community groups rather than large nonprofits, but I am flexible.

Is there one issue in particular that is the most pertinent challenge to the BWCA at this moment?

Where and how I can I research BWCA's challenges, such as sulfide mining, logging, roadless areas, and climate change, as I mentioned in my proposal?

How do these issues link up to larger ecological and hegemonic issues?

How can artwork serve as a corresponding poetry to scientific research?

Other ideas?

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