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Art for the Earth Project

It has been awhile since I posted because I have been working on the Art for the Earth Project as the Artistic Director and Producer. Originally it was intended to be a live performance but because of Covid-19 it evolved to a two-part video program which includes a variety of art forms exploring environmental problems and some resources for solutions in support of a healthy, regenerative, just, biologically diverse and vibrant earth. The project includes opera, dance, poetry, visual arts, performance, music, video and information about local resource and opportunities to take action. Here is a link to a virtual program with detailed information about the videos which are available free of charge. The Art for the Earth Project embraces the arts, culture, community, and science working together to take care of the earth who takes care of us. Part l and Part ll premiered on MCAT Channel 189 in Missoula, Montana and the links are posted on the Art for the Earth Project Facebook page and listed below.

Part l here is the link (1 hour 9 minutes)

Part ll (1 hour 22 minutes)

Emily Clubb who wrote “Going…Going,..Gone: Last Call for Five Birds.”

One of the pieces that premiered with the Art for the Earth Project is “Going…Going…Gone: Last Call for Five Birds”  by Emily A. Clubb with Amy Ragsdale – a suite of five poems, songs and dances telling the stories of five extinct or endangered birds.

From “My History of Trees” by Leslie Van Stavern Millar,

Visual artist Leslie Van Stavern Millar’s piece “My History of Trees” a personal story about trees, illustrated with photographs and artwork is another piece that premiered as one of twelve different art explorations in the two-part project. Participating Art for the Earth Project artists and volunteers include Asher Barnes, Camilo Cárdenas, Corwin (Corky) Clairmont, Emily Clubb, Katie Conrad, Daniel Cook, Linda Eichwald, Cecelia Elizabeth, Joy French, Brit Garner, Tyson Gerhardt, Linda Helding, Charlie Janson, Lizzi Juda, James Kay, Moira Keefe , Naomi Kimbell, Caitlyn Lewis, Romy, Salome, Olive & Selah McGahan Daniel, Patrick Marsolek, Ravi Topp Marsolek, Craig Menteer, Leslie Van Stavern Millar, Lori J. Mitchell, Faith Morrison, Eileen Rafferty, Molly Stark Ragsdale, Amy Ragsdale, Matt Olsen, Caroline Patterson, Logan Prichard, Scott Ranf, Ron Scholl,  Laurel Sears, Karen Sippy, Karl Stein, Youpa Stein, Jasmine Woods, Lara Tomov, Rickie Van Berkum, Janaina Vieira-Marques  and Ashley Zhinin.

Participating Art for the Earth Project non-profit organizations, businesses, foundations and sponsors include: Clark Fork Coalition,  Green Source, the Good Food Store, Climate Smart Missoula, High Stakes Foundation, Home ReSource, L.E.A.W. Family Foundation, Inc., MCAT (Missoula Community Access Television), MEIC (Montana Environmental Information Center, Montana Arts Council (an agency of state government), MUD (Missoula Urban Demonstration Project), 1000 New Gardens, Soil Cycle, Recycling Works, Stories for Action, Trees for Missoula and  ZACC (Zootown Arts Community Center), Linda and Paul Eichwald and Beth Ferris.

While the resources that are shared are generally local to the Missoula, Montana area the work has relevance where ever you live. Please see the virtual program for more information about all the performances and resources.

Lori J. Mitchell in a plastic dress by Youpa Stein

The piece I wrote for the Art for the Earth Project, “Plastic= A Life Cycle of Harm” evolved from wanting to create something from my collection of non-recyclable plastic from my home use and the articles and research about plastic pollution I have been saving. I made this plastic dress (above) and Lizzi Juda made a plastic bird costume (below) that are part of the piece.

Linda Eichwald in a Plastic Bird Costume made by Lizzi Juda

These costumes and some of my research come together in a video experiment. The medium of video is new to me and my fellow artists and I created it with no budget. I see the video as part of an exploration in its early stage.

What I have been learning about our relationship to plastic led to me to ask what is more absurd, saving and making weird stuff out of plastic or the normalized production and everyday bombardment of  single use plastic and plastic packaging when we know how the material pollutes at every stage of the its life cycle?”

The video “Plastic = A Life Cycle of Harm” doesn’t make sense in perhaps the way we are use to making sense of the world but what we are doing with plastic doesn’t make sense either. I am exploring what happens when we see people wearing plastic costumes move in the Montana landscape and we hear this information about some of the impacts of our plastic use while we see these images. How does this incongruent pairing of seeing and hearing fit together? Is it too odd? Can we hear the information in a new way or is it just confusing?

In general, I keeping wondering, how can we absorb the growing body of knowledge about the life cycle of harm caused by plastic and at the same time live with the pervasive integration of plastic in almost every aspect of our lives? We have very few ways to have a responsible relationship with plastic. Reducing our use of plastic is an important step, when possible, but for the vast amount of plastic being created there are so many problems throughout the life cycle that have no good current solutions. What do we do with that awareness?

What do we do with the desire to protect the planet and our current seemingly inescapable relationship with plastic? Even working hard to avoid plastic I am still accumulating plastic that can’t be recycled (and wow our current so called “recycling” is a topic onto itself). I keep saying to myself, “This is ridiculous.” In this video I am exploring the ridiculousness of my personal and my species’ relationship to plastic. I don’t claim this video “makes sense” but what sense is to be made and how do we find our way to solutions?

It is going to take all of us being more conscious about our everyday choices. We need to change from a life taking to a life giving way of living. We have to design packaging and products so they are zero waste through their whole life cycle. The producers of plastic need to be accountable and we need some governmental regulation and we each need to do what we can because change happens when enough people demand change.

David Marinelli wrote, “Waiting for that law to be passed or for that person in power to take the right decision could be a way to go. Research has however shown that that is not how change happens – that is top-down thinking. The reality is that each one of us makes tens of decisions daily on all sorts of matters and that is where change happens – that is bottom-up thinking. Sometimes politicians are compelled to make choices by public demand – that is still a bottom-up process.”

Stay safe and do what you can.

Please join us for the Art for the Earth Project two-part video. I will update this post with links when they are available or you can look for the links on the Art for the Earth Project Facebook page .