UCCS-VAPA: Visual Art

Environmental Performance Agency (EPA)

From September 26 through October 3, New York City based artist collective Environmental Performance Agency (EPA) will engage with the Colorado Springs public to educate, explore, and visualize complex webs of connections. These connections relate to “undesirable plant species” within Colorado Springs.

The EPA will also display an exhibition at the downtown Gallery of Contemporary Art (GOCA), consisting of two activated spaces. The first, EPA Archive Space: the Multispecies Care Survey, is a public engagement and data gathering initiative that aims to cultivate the co-generation of embodied, localized plant-human care practices. Visitors can learn and teach methods for attuning oneself to a multispecies perspective – moving, breathing, listening, and working with spontaneous urban plants and other organisms as guides, collaborators, and mentors.

The second space, the Participatory Community Space, also housed with the downtown gallery, will consist of a participatory relationship mapping work that invites the public to explore and visualize complex webs of connections via maps and mandalas displayed on the gallery floor, windows, and walls.

Key Dates:

Visiting Artists & Critic Series talk:
Tuesday, September 28
5PM-6PM
Chapman Foundations Recital Hall, Ent Center for the Arts
Register for Tickets

Opening Reception for Exhibition Undesirable Plants Declare:
Friday, 10/1 from 5-8PM
GOCA Downtown
121 S. Tejon

Exhibition:
Undesirable Plants Declare
Friday, 10/1 – Friday, 10/29
GOCA Downtown
121 S. Tejon

Painted Banners at EPA Headquarters, 1067 Pacific Street, Environmental Performance Agency, Brooklyn, NY, 2017.
Deep Time Seed Burial in Mugwort Forest (with Next Epoch Seed Library), Environmental Performance Agency Summit, EPA Headquarters, Brooklyn, NY, 2017.
Suit Up! Join the Emergent Plantocene Clean Up, installation view, The Department of Human and Natural Services Exhibition at NURTUREArt curated by Mariel Villeré, Environmental Performance Agency, Brooklyn, NY, 2019.

Biographies

The Environmental Performance Agency (EPA) is an artist collective founded in 2017 and named in response to the ongoing rollback of Federal environmental policy at the US Environmental Protection Agency. Appropriating the acronym EPA, the collective’s primary goal is to shift thinking around the terms environment, performance, and agency – using artistic, social, and embodied / kinesthetic practices to advocate for the agency of all living performers co-creating our environment, specifically through the lens of spontaneous urban plants, native or migrant. Current EPA Agents include Catherine Grau, andrea haenggi, Ellie Irons, Christopher Kennedy, and the spontaneous urban plants of New York City.

In 2020, their virtual participatory artist project The Multispecies Care Survey was part of the two–person exhibition Regeneration in Place at Old Stonehouse (Brooklyn, NY) and extended to the NODE forum for Digital Arts Festival in Frankfurt, Germany; other recent exhibitions include The Department of Human and Natural Services at NURTUREArt, Ecological Consciousness: Artist as Instigator at Wave Hill (Bronx, NY) and the solo show The Department of Weedy Affairs at Transformer Gallery in Washington, DC. In 2019 the EPA was in residence at Wave Hill for Winter Workspace, and in 2018 received the Ecotopian Toolkit Fellowship from the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities for the participatory public project “Embodied Scientist Parkour.” The collective’s work has been written about in publications ranging from Art in America to Vice Magazine, and they have presented papers, performances, and workshops at venues ranging from the College Art Association to the Open Engagement Conference.

Christopher Kennedy is the assistant director at the Urban Systems Lab (The New School) and lecturer in the Parsons School of Design. As an EPA agent and artist-designer Kennedy creates site-specific projects that examine conventional notions of “Nature,” interspecies agency, and biocultural collaboration. Drawing from a background in environmental engineering, Kennedy re-imagines field science techniques and new forms of storytelling to develop embodied research, installations, sculptures, and publications that recontextualize social-ecological systems. Kennedy has worked collaboratively on projects shown at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, the Levine Museum of the New South, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, the Ackland Art Museum and the Queens Museum. He holds a BS in Environmental Engineering from RPI, a MA in Environmental Conservation Education from NYU and a PhD in Cultural Studies from the University of North Carolina.

Community Organizer Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort) is representing the urban spontaneous plants and says : It is sensational to be smelly – be hazy — be tasty – be dreamy – be blurry – be green – be silver –be juicy – be fragile – be resilient – be vulnerable – be loud – be unnoticed –be overwhelming –be everywhere – To affect – be affected – To have no self-expression- To need light – water – touch – wind – rain – microorganisms – It is sensational – To be fluid – changeable – unpredictable – invasive– persistent – resilient – sharp. It is sensational to be a rhizome. It is sensational that you make me a stranger in the street -> an immigrant -> an alien -> a healer -> a smuggler -> with no passport.

Ellie Irons is an artist and educator living and working on Mohican land in Troy, New York, USA. Working across media—from watercolor paintings to un-lawning experiments—she combines socially engaged art and ecology fieldwork to explore how human and more-than-human lives intertwine with other earth systems. Recent work involves collaborations about/with spontaneous urban plants (aka weeds), including co-founding the Next Epoch Seed Library and the Environmental Performance Agency. Ellie received a BA from Scripps College in Los Angeles and an MFA from Hunter College, CUNY in New York City. She is currently a PhD candidate in arts practice Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, researching forms of artistic practice that cultivate plant-human solidarity. She has participated in recent exhibitions about environmental art and activism including The Department of Human and Natural Services at NURTUREArt, Ecological Consciousness: Artist as Instigator at Wave Hill, and Unsettled Nature at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Her work has been covered by publications ranging from Art in America to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Catherine Grau is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Queens, New York. Her practice involves developing and sharing embodied research methodologies, prompting collective experiences, and entering into nuanced relationships with place. Central to her practice are creating and facilitating participatory spaces and actions that are imbued with critical approaches to de-colonizing and unlearning anthropocentric paradigms. She holds a BFA in sculpture from Pratt Institute and a MFA in Public Art and New Artistic Strategies from the Bauhaus University of Weimar in Germany. She has co-founded multiple artist/curator collectives, including Process Institute, Chance Ecologies, and EPA – Environmental Performance Agency. Catherine Grau currently works as the Community Partnership Manager at the Queens Museum.

Calling on plants as her guides, teachers, mentors, and performers, artist andrea haenggi (she/they) evolves body-based work through somatic public fieldwork, dance, and in-studio art practice to create a form of theater calledEthnochoreobotanography – culminating in choreographies, gatherings, performances, eco-social art installations, embodied scientist workshops and soft activist actions. Born in Switzerland and now breathing and working in Lenapehoking/New York City, haenggi critically investigates decolonizing ourselves and our relation to nature to build imaginative new worlds of community, care and multispecies futures. Her latest project — SEA/Estuarial Council of the Weeds —envisions multispecies commoning as a form of governance for a coastal city like New York. haenggi has performed and exhibited locally and internationally on living land and in galleries and theaters. She holds an MFA in Creative Practice from Transart Institute/Plymouth University (UK), is a Certified Movement Analyst, and is co-founder of the artist collective Environmental Performance Agency (EPA).

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