It Breathes. It Eats. It Digests. It Grows: Pioneering Architecture in the 1970s and 2010s

This lecture examines bionics architecture in which physiological functions of living organisms provide models of sustainable strategies with 4.6 billion years of proven success. Bionic architecture applies the efficient energy flow patterns and material cycling of resilient organisms to the built environment.
Bionics architectures is bio-degradable / bio-energetic / bio-dynamic / bio-geochemical / bio-dynamic.

Linda’s Homestead

Permaculture is a holistic system for maximizing the productivity of any piece of land. It can be applied to deserts, swamps, mountaintops, and forests. Linda has applied Permaculture principles to her eleven acre property in upstate New York. She cultivates multiple gardens for vegetables, berries, fruits, and herbs; composts and constructs soil; raises chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, pig, lambs, rabbit, and fish; raises bees for honey and taps trees for maple syrup; forages for mushrooms and ramps; cans and freezes food for the winer; constructs cedar fencing and stone terraces. She lives in an experimental galvalum structure that she designed and helped construct. These activities constitute her art practice. 

The Evolution from EGO-Centric to ECO-Centric Art

Eco artists are tampering with the age-old association of great art with ‘originality’ and ‘genius,’ exalting the individual.This Romantic conception has propelled recent generations of artists to pursue ‘self-expression’ by developing a ‘signature style’ thereby gaining ‘personal fame’. This lecture explores three artworks, created by three artists, that offer three different positions along the ‘ego/eco’ spectrum: Pablo Picasso, Joseph Beuys, and Gelitin. Each reveals that such transformations are not confined to art. They reflect the course of culture throughout the past hundred years.


Photographic images arouse such diverse responses as wonder, indignation, compassion, and enlightenment. Exploiting this power often suffices to identify a photographer as an environmentalist. 
Others earn the eco-designation by applying sustainable criteria to their materials and their processes. In the process the eight artist photographers whose work is presented in this lecture are reconfiguring photographic techniques in order to align them with sustainable mandates. Their interventions are timely and inspiring.

Artists as Instigators: Engaging the Public in Eco-Reforms

Social Practice unites the diverse projects presented in this lecture. The six artists represented are all drawn from Linda’s interdisciplinary eco art textbook, TO LIFE! Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sutainable Planet. In each instance, the theme and form of the art project correlates with its geographical point of origin: Mexico, Switzerland, Great Britain, New Orleans, Spain, and Canada.

Curator. Collector. Connoisseur.

Three real-life anecdotes, drawn from Linda’s long experience as a curator, museum director, and author, provide vivid evidence of the complex relationships between the three C’s that comprise art’s essential support staff – the curator, the collector, and the connoisseur.

Preposterous Propositions: Artists as Visionary Engineers

Artists are occupying the frontier of environmental reform. Their unfettered imaginations are inventing strategies that exist outside the parameters of official design / science / technological / engineering protocols. They are propelling these professions into uncharted territories of energy use, resource management, and waste cycling. Since solutions to the grave problems confronting civilization lie in the realm of wild speculation, artists may be playing vital roles in determining survival prospects.

The Ethics of Bio Art

Contemporary Bio Art challenges existing legislation, judicial precedents, cultural taboos, and religious teachings. Ethical quandaries inevitably result when artists tamper with life, manipulating genes and culturing tissues. Perhaps such art works should be subject to a measure of ‘rightness’ that is not accountable to any human authority. Instead, it may be necessary to calculate Bio Art’s terms according to the intricate interdependencies that comprise the Earth’s biological systems. According to this ethical standard, whether or not an instance of Bio Art is ethical may be determined by asking: “Does this intervention enhance or compromise the co-evolution between all the planet’s living communities and ensure the future of life on Earth?

Eco Artists: H20 Quandaries / Solutions

Water has a complex personality. On the one hand, it is gregarious, continually absorbing, dissolving, and transporting other materials. On the other hand, it is meddlesome, actively seeping into the tiniest crevices and permeating the greatest expanses of the atmosphere.  Most significantly, water is essential to life. However, in many regions of the globe, humans, plants, animals, insects, and bacteria with access to water are at risk. Water, the great dissolver and transporter, is also a conveyor of death, disease, and deformity. Contemporary eco artists explore these quandaries and present solutions.

Artistic License: Liberty or Burden?

When you choose ‘art’ as your profession, you enter a field in which there are no guidelines or standards. You are required to be an independent agent when you select a subject, medium, style, process, scale, manner of display, etc. Since there is no shared definition of ‘art’, nor a consensus regardings ‘art’s function’, 21st century artists make these fundamental determinations for themselves.  

Project Eco Runway

Designing and constructing clothing has become a vanguard creative act. Numerous contemporary eco-artists are using clothing to instigate radical environmental and social reforms. This lecture explores the innovative functional and expressive roles that clothing is being assigned within the environmental movement. They represent the work of some of today’s most original artists.

Beautiful vs. Beautifully: Ecological Imprints on Language

Are microbes, fungus, and corpses beautiful? Ecological concepts of beauty extend far beyond the immaculate surface and geometric purity that characterize human technologies. Eco-beauty embraces all aspects of the life cycle – decay as well as growth. By incorporating such challenging notions in works of art, contemporary artists convey that the far-reaching implications of today’s environmental movement by redefining common vocabularies and reformulating popular values. The lecture will explore art’s vital role in bringing language and social values into alignment with sustainable practice.

Cycle-Logical Art: Recycling Matters in Art and Ecology

Eleven pioneering artists design ingenious schemes to create art that utilizes materials from the waste stream, avoids creating waste, and raises awareness of sustainable material choices. Since their material strategies apply to the production of all products, their works of art models for cultural reform.

EnvironMentalities: Contemporary Eco-Artists as Preservationists, Conservationists, Deep Ecologists, EcoFeminists, Urban Ecologists,…

There is no tablet etched with a definitive environmental moral code. Environmentalists may behave like shepherds of the planets life-forms, technical designers of the planet’s systems of production, managers of the planet’s habitats, healers of the planet’s infirmities, emissaries of the planet’s wonders, avengers of the planet’s spoilers, curators of the planet’s resources, and many other positions. Multiple “EnvironMentalities” are being adopted, defined, applied, and promoted by the remarkable artists discussed in this lecture. As Preservationists, Conservationists, Deep Ecologists, EcoFeminists, Urban Ecologists, etc, they are formulating ethical and functional environmental strategies to assure the continuance of life on Earth.

ECOcentric Topics: Pioneering Themes for Eco-Art

Celebrate the invention of a new word and its application to the production of art. “Ecocentric” describes thoughts and behaviors that are habitat- centered. The new word challenges attitudes that are species-centered (anthropocentric) and self-centered (egocentric). Each of the ten artists examined in this lecture apply ecocentrism to such fundamental components of consciousness as “nature,” “desire,” “globalism,” “power,” “death,” etc. The artworks they produce manifest the revolutionary transformation in cultural values that accompanies the adoption of ecocentric considerations.

Are Microbes, Fungus, and Decomposing Corpses Beautiful? Eco-Beauty / Eco-Art

Ecological concepts of beauty extend far beyond the immaculate surface and geometric purity that characterize human technologies. Eco-beauty embraces all aspects of the life cycle – decay as well as growth. By incorporating such challenging notions in works of art, contemporary artists convey the far-reaching implications of today’s environmental movement to the public. The lecture will explore art’s vital role in bringing social values into alignment with sustainability.

Contemporary Art and the Primordial Sun

This lecture examines the work of artists exploring current interactions between humans and the sun. Three contrasting facts about the sun guide their creations:

  • Sun is the source of all the food ever eaten, all fossil fuel in existence, and all oxygen ever found in earth’s atmosphere.
  • The total amount of solar energy striking the United States in twenty minutes on an average summer day is sufficient to meet the country’s energy needs for an entire year.
  • Changes are occurring in the atmosphere that shields the earth from excessive ultraviolet radiation and protects the earth from becoming a raging inferno like Venus or a frozen wasteland like Mars.

Animal. Anima. Animus.

Eight contemporary artists seek to reclaim kinship with animals that is typically associated with pastoralists, hunters, herders, and fishers. This rapport is not common in cultures where people encounter animals as pets, meat, nuisances, dangers, or zoo occupants. Artists include Marina Abramovic, Xu Bing, Dennis Oppenhiem, Carolee Schneemann, and others.

Preposterous Propositions: Artists as Visionary Engineers

  • A human oil press that uses dead bodies to replenish depleted supplies of fossil fuels.
  • Engineering the human genome to create a new breed of humans in which submissiveness becomes a dominant trait that prevents further hostile take-overs of the natural environment.
  • Toy robot dogs that are altered to sniff out hidden sources of radiation and other contaminants.

Each of the preceding statements attests to the fact that artists are occupying the forefront of technological potentiality. Their unfettered imaginations are inventing strategies that exist outside the parameters of official design / science / technological / engineering protocols. Artists are propelling these professions into uncharted territories of energy use, resource management, and waste cycling.

The remarkable environmental artists presented in this lecture conjure alternatives to the status quo that match the scale of the problems confronting civilization and its earthly home. Since solutions are often found within boundless speculation, artists play a vital role in determining survival prospects.

Blind Art? Blind Art!

Five fully-sighted artists integrate blindness into their creative process defying the famous dictum by Leonardo DaVinci, “The eye is the window of the body through which it… enjoys the beauty of the world.” Why do these sighted artists withdraw from seeing?

What aspect of the human condition or the state of the world are these artists communicating about our time in history?
Free Radicals:Why Do Artists Innovate?

Art is a visual embodiment of a cultural condition. Artists who were contemporaries of Thomas Jefferson reflected the values derived from an era of coaches, home-baked bread, and quill pens. Today’s artists are in tune with cyberspace, mega hurts, digital imagery, microsecond communications, virtual reality, cloning, satellite transmissions, space explorations, and environmental degradation.

Janine Antoni: Affliction and Release

Antoni embodies plights that beset people who enjoy material abundance and social opportunity, especially middleclass women.

I Am an Artist Because…..: Defining Your Artistic Mission

By selecting a profession as amorphous as art, each artist is at liberty to choose to be a trickster, philosopher, mentor, prophet, saint, prankster, documenter, commentator, interpreter, designer, inventor, dreamer, theorist, critic, role model, idealist, pragmatist, beautifier, and so forth.

Art Pedagogy: Teaching an Unruly Discipline

Art exists without boundaries, without qualifying characteristics, without established standards, and without a definition of itself. This lecture presents ideas about selecting the content and skills to help students navigate this amorphous field of operation.

Avant-Garde Art: You Are an Expert

Check your expectations about art in the museum cloak room and explore contemporary art wrapped in contemporary experience. You may discover that vanguard art looks odd if it is compared with historic art, but it looks normal when compared to surfing the internet, worrying about global warming, using nano-technologies, globe-trotting, etc.

Art What Thou Eat: Images of Food in American Art

Grouping art works chronologically according to theme generates a visual record of American social history as seen through the eyes of each period’s most astute observers – its artists. The themes include rituals, technology, markets, packaging, lunch-breaks, death, sexuality, and so forth.

The Maximal Implications of the Minimal Line

A straight line, the single most elementary visual unit, is the formal denominator that unites the surprisingly diverse work of fifty-eight artists from the 1960-1980s. They dramatize that the extreme reduction that characterizes the aesthetic code of Minimalism inspired intense creativity and enabled artists to convey concepts related to gender, nature, and industry with wit, humor, elegance, and/or banality.