Edge of Life will bridge the fields of forestry and art. Forest pathology is an important aspect of forestry, especially now with the influx of invasive species, activity in the ecotones, and spread of pathogens. Artists naturally gravitate to contemporary concerns and socially conscious issues. Each artist will be assigned a forest pathology specimen to use as the impetus for creation. Participating artists will include 22 artists in Stephen F. Austin State University’s School of Art and 13 professional artists in the field whose work deals with ecological issues. The project will highlight the talent housed within the School of Art. Our diverse and active faculty showcases the diversity of contemporary art practices and concerns. Media will range from pin-hole photography, hand-felted wool sculpture, wood cut printmaking, to digital media mapping.
This exhibition will provide the catalyst for discussion over pathogens and invasive species affecting the health of our forests, as well as how artists communicate concerns about contemporary ecological issues, translating their ideas through their artistic media. Pathogens and invasive species have an inherent allure that calls for attention. The forms can be beautiful and repulsive, elegant in simplicity and complex. Awareness of pathogens leads to understanding their mechanics, which leads to cognizance on how our actions affect global, natural health. Humanity has planted non-native trees that are harbingers of disease to the native woods. These diseases mutate and spread. Forest pathologists study the unseen microscopic diseases through the visible symptoms – such as shelf fungi, known as conks – learning to read the health of a forest ecosystem through the health of individual trees. The disease triangle shows the intrinsically linked co-dependency of Host, Pathogen, and Environment. Pathogens can transfer between and depend on host/s for survival and reproduction. Environment can enable rapid spread of pathogens. Transference of pathogens is fertile ground for lessons of human behavior through artistically illuminated metaphor.
Forest pathology, as a field of study, has declined across the United States. Universities often house forest pathology in the departments of biology or agriculture as a sub-category. As the educational programs wither so will the number of minds that store the knowledge needed to protect the health of the forests. Despite its decline, this field is still pertinent to today’s ecosystems.
The project will culminate in both a traveling exhibition, pairing specimen and artwork, and a book. This book will contain full-color reproductions of the artwork in the exhibition, including an artist statement and short biography of each artist, as well as full-color images of the specimens and writings from forest pathologists explaining each pathogen and its significance to their ecosystem.
Edge of Life will provide the impetus for conversations over pathogens affecting the health of our forests.
To allow adequate time for curatorial preparations, all art must be completed and submitted by September 15th, 2010.
Artwork will travel for approximately 2 years.
We will need permission to reproduce and distribute images of your work in print and electronic media for publicity, documentation, publications, and educational purposes, though copyright for the work will remain in your name. A contract will be sent at a later date.
Specifications for artwork:
- Open media, in direct response to selected Forest Pathogen
- 24” x 24” x 24” maximum for 3D work, including base if specialty base is needed, which must be provided
- 24” x 36” maximum for 2D work, including frame
- 2D work must be framed and hang ready, plexiglass glazing only
- 10 pound maximum
- Special hardware needed for installation must be included
- No complicated installations or delicate work that cannot withstand travel