Two exhibitions presented by 516 ARTS deepen relationships to life, death and the fragile ecosystems we inhabit.
“Generally, the idea of death makes people slightly, if not wholly, uncomfortable,” writes curator Mary Anne Redding, “especially when it’s the intimate idea of human death… or the mass destruction of life and landscape after a devastating fire. Yet many artists explore the shape of loss as a meditation on the landscape of death, whether contemplating their own or through a more universal meditation on loss and grief.”
This month presents an important opportunity to look at and deepen our relationships to life, loss, death and the fragile ecosystems we inhabit. From May 27 to July 22, 516 ARTS hosts two concurrent exhibitions: Fires of Change, exploring the social and ecological issues behind the rise of catastrophic wildfires in the western United States through collaboration between scientists and contemporary artists, and Landscapes of Life & Death, examining life, loss, death and the fragile ecosystems we inhabit. Both exhibitions explore our intimate connections to nature through contemporary art, begging us to investigate our individual relationship and responsibilities to the natural world.
Fires of Change, in the downstairs gallery, is a traveling exhibition launched by the Flagstaff Arts Council and curated by Shawn Skabelund. It features sculpture, photography, video, mixed media and installation by 10 artists from Arizona and across the country.
In late 2014, as a precursor to the exhibition, the artists attended Fire Science Bootcamp with a team of nationally regarded fire scientists and forest managers. During the weeklong, educationally immersive trip through the forests of northern Arizona, the artists explored the impact of wildfire in the region. The resulting works comprise this exhibition.
Landscapes of Life & Death, in the upstairs gallery, is a group exhibition guest curated by Mary Anne Redding. This exhibition poses a unique opportunity to look at loss, extinction, death and renewal, spanning emotional landscapes of human death as well as environmental landscapes of destruction. Contemporary photographic artists address the nuances of loss and grief for themselves and the planet.
These exhibitions come to Albuquerque at a critical time to explore these conversations around the future of our environment and, ultimately, our own self-preservation. It is becoming increasingly clear: We need a whole sea of change. Exhibitions like these are an opportunity to shape new ways of thinking and inspire action.
The exhibitions are accompanied by public programs:
Thursday, June 22, 6:30 pm
TALK: Fire & Water
Join New Mexico scientists for a discussion about fire management in the mountains of northern New Mexico and how it is connected to the Río Grande and drinking water in Albuquerque. Presenters include Collin Haffey and Dr. Ellis Margolis of the U.S. Geological Survey, Dr. Zander Evans of the Forest Stewards Guild, and Sarah Hurteau of The Nature Conservancy.
Thursday, June 29, 9:30-11 am
Kids and adults are invited to join ecologist Krista Bonfantine, watershed ecologist with Arid Land Innovation, as she demonstrates strategies for managing local forests for fire. Participants will design and test their own matchstick forests and tour the Fires of Change exhibition to see how artists have responded to issues of climate change and forest fires in the Southwest. Space is limited. Register: email@example.com
516 ARTS is an independent, nonprofit contemporary arts organization, operating a museum-style gallery in the center of Downtown Albuquerque. All events are free and open to the public. An online guide to the programs is available at www.516arts.org