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Green Internode #1

Jonah Jacobs, Green Internode #1, 2016, rolled cardboard, cardboard tubes, paint, dye, salt, plaster, gravel, and cotton swabs, 36" diameter. 18" depth. Image courtesy the artist.

Approaches to Sustainability: A Conversation with Artists Engaging with Environmental Issues

Lecture Environmental Council

As creative thinkers, artists are uniquely positioned to establish a framework for sustainable practices and reflection on the broader systems around us. This panel explores the work of various artists engaging with issues of sustainability through environmental and social justice, community activism, and climate-related content, representing a wide variety of approaches to the broad notion of “sustainability.” The breadth and diversity of their work can help us better understand the nuances of sustainability. Madeline Hollander explores group patterns and behaviors in response to environmental and social crises. Jonah Jacobs uses his art to discuss waste, proposing creative approaches to re-use or up-cycling. Patty Chang considers the intersection of art and science and the possibilities of collaboration to support ecological solutions and protection. Finally, activism is at the core of Andrea Bowers’ work; Bowers is involved in social, environmental, and political activist movements and is currently looking at greenwashing. With their vastly different practices, these four artists demonstrate a handful of the many paths to sustainability, both within the art industry and for all of us as global citizens. The panel is organized by Annabel Keenan, who reports on contemporary art and sustainability for various publications including The Art Newspaper. Keenan will moderate the conversation to shed light on these four artists’ approaches to sustainability.

Museum hours will be extended until 6:30pm. Please arrive early to enjoy the museum before the panel begins.

Los Angeles based artist Andrea Bowers (b. 1964, Ohio) has been recording and amplifying the work of activists present and past for more than two decades. Her multi-media practice includes drawing, video, sculptureLos Angeles based artist Andrea Bowers (b. 1964, Ohio) has been recording and amplifying the work of activists present and past for more than two decades. Her multi-media practice includes drawing, video, sculpture, and installation work that foregrounds the experience of the people who dedicate their time and energy to the struggle for gender, racial, environmental, labor, and immigration justice and those who are directly affected by systemic inequality. Over time, her different bodies of work have become a document of the changing language, prerogatives, and dynamics of social justice movements. In 2021 a major mid-career survey of Bowers' work curated by Michael Darling and Connie Butler opened at the MCA Chicago and traveled to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in 2022.

Patty Chang is a Los Angeles based artist and educator who uses performance, video, installation and narrative forms when considering identity, gender, transnationalism, colonial legacies, the environment, large-scale infrastructural projects and impacted subjectivities. Her museum exhibition and book, "The Wandering Lake", investigates landscapes impacted by large scale human-engineered water projects such as the Soviet mission to irrigate the waters from the Aral Sea, as well as the longest aqueduct in the world, the North to South Water Diversion Project in China. In addition to numerous awards and fellowships, her work has been exhibited at institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim Museum, New Museum, M+ Museum in Hong Kong, and Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden. She teaches at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA.

Madeline Hollander is a choreographer and artist who has always been interested in how individual behaviors adapt to group patterns. She has explored this concern in galleries, on stages, and also on-screen––including her choreography of the zombified Nutcracker sequences in Jordan Peele’s 2019 film Us and performances that deployed the Whitney Museum's flood mitigation system for the 2019 Whitney Biennial. Hollander’s work is rooted in an investigation of movement-based responses to environmental and social crises. The artist's solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Flatwing (2021), explores the emergence of silent crickets in Kauai, Hawaii, and the imminent extinction of their chirping fellows. Hollander received her MFA in Film/Video from the Milton Avery School of Arts, Bard College in 2018.

Jonah Jacobs is a material alchemist who turns up-cycled materials into complex and wondrous organic looking sculptures. His work has won eight awards in the past seven years with the most recent award being the James Renwick Craft Alliance award for excellence. Over the past fifteen years Jacobs’ work has been seen in close to ninety shows across the Midwest and New York. His work has been in multiple publications including recently, art activity books for school children in the United Arab Emirates.

Jonah is a graduate of Antioch college and a former paratrooper in the Army’s 82nd Airborne division.

Annabel Keenan is a writer, art advisor, and independent curator specializing in contemporary art and sustainability. She contributes to The Art Newspaper, Brooklyn Rail, Cultured Magazine, and Los Angeles' own Artillery Magazine, among others. She earned her B.A. in Art History and Italian from Emory University and her M.A. in Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture from the Bard Graduate Center. 

MOCA’s environmental programming series highlights the museum’s work around climate, conservation, and environmental justice. Guided by the work of the MOCA Environmental Council, the first sustainability council at a major arts museum in the United States, this series presents artists, activists, and scholars committed to critical ecological issues in Los Angeles and globally.

The 2022 series is made possible by Nora McNeely Hurley and Manitou Fund.