LOCAL ECOLOGIES is an educational initiative, traveling exhibition, and set of public programs taking place across three University of Massachusetts campuses spanning the region of Eastern Massachusetts.
UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth, and UMass Lowell belong to landscapes with diverse coastal and river ecosystems, as well as layered indigenous, colonial, and industrial histories. The LOCAL ECOLOGIES initiative presents contemporary, place-based art practices that bring our ecologies and land use histories into new focus.
The centerpiece of LOCAL ECOLOGIES is a series of multidisciplinary artworks from artists who have lived and worked in Eastern Massachusetts. These include new, site-specific works created in response to the conditions of individual campuses, as well as other artworks related to the themes assembled in the touring exhibition.
Participating artists Dan Borelli, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Duy Hoàng, Sarah Kanouse and Nicholas Brown, Plotform (Jane Marsching and Andi Sutton), Matthew Mazzotta, Evelyn Rydz, and Andrew Yang have created a varied set of research-driven artworks and public programs that span drawing, sculpture, installation, social practice, archive visits, field work, and the documentation and enactment of performative and ephemeral artworks. The exhibition and works on view will vary from site to site, as their components expand, retract, react, and transform in shape and meaning within the different contextual references of the campuses, academic programs, and landscapes they inhabit.
LOCAL ECOLOGIES is organized by Kirsten Swenson, Art History, UMass Lowell; Sam Toabe, Gallery Director, UMass Boston; and Rebecca Uchill, Art Education, Art History, and Media Studies, UMass Dartmouth. The exhibition is implemented at UMass Dartmouth under the oversight of Viera Levitt and Rebecca Uchill. This project is supported at UMass Dartmouth by the CVPA Dean’s Office Visiting Artist Program.
Read a review of LOCAL ECOLOGIES in the Boston Globe here.
Read a preview of LOCAL ECOLOGIES in Artscope magazine here.
Public Programs and partnerships
Nov 14, 6:30 pm: Roundtable discussion with exhibition curators, artists, and program partners, featuring: artist Dan Borelli, collaborating artists of Plotform: Jane Marsching and Andi Sutton, Ranger Andy Schnetzer, Dr. Kirsten Swenson (UMass Lowell), and Gallery Director Sam Toabe (UMass Boston). Moderated by Dr. Rebecca Uchill. Introduction by UMass Dartmouth Gallery Director Viera Levitt.
Nov 19, 3:30 pm: To Understand a Tree, and Other Projects: Guest artist Gina Siepel will discuss her recent multidisciplinary projects focused on area ecologies of Western Massachusetts. CVPA 153, Main Campus, followed by Star Store visit to Local Ecologies with exhibition curator.
Ongoing: UMassD Arts Ambassadors will facilitate workshops of Dear Harbor Radio on the Star Store Campus. Details about these workshops will be updated here as they are announced.
The LOCAL ECOLOGIES initiative involves a number of regional relationships and partnerships. In spring 2019, Roger Mandle, Executive Director of DATMA, joined artists Dan Borelli and Matthew Mazzotta for a roundtable on community engagement, as part of the LOCAL ECOLOGIES lecture series. Since then Borelli, who was a CVPA Visiting Artist, was awarded a spring 2019 artist residency at the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. There, he developed proposals for public artworks that track the toxicity of New Bedford’s Superfund site, on view in the exhibition.
The collaborative “Plotform" — Jane D. Marsching and Andi Sutton — were active participants in New Bedford regional events over the summer and fall of 2019. The artist-duo designed a bicycle with pull-cart workshop platform, radio transmitter, and recording studio. In venues from the Whaling Museum to a boat on the New Bedford Harbor, the artists asked participants to write and record love letters to the environment for their project, Dear Harbor Radio.
The New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park has been a sponsor of the Processing Place class taught by Dr. Rebecca Uchill in association with the LOCAL ECOLOGIES initiative. Thanks to the generous support of the NPS, students enrolled in the course have the opportunity to visit area National Parks and museums, in order to think about the long history of relationships between art, environmentalism, and conservation philosophies.
LOCAL ECOLOGIES is also pleased to partner with the Providence Biennial for Contemporary Art in promoting their exhibition ReSeeding the City: Ethnobotany in the Urban on view at the Providence State House through November 27. The exhibition is part of a larger project by the same title, which included a day-long forum reflecting on the “rich assemblages of life” in urban spaces and their surrounds, featuring Dr. Rebecca Uchill, one of the LOCAL ECOLOGIES exhibition curators, as one of the two plenary speakers. For more information about the exhibition component of ReSeeding the City, see http://providencebiennial.com/press/PVD-biennial-reseeding-press-release.pdf.
Other partnerships will be added to this webpage as they are announced.