Letter from the Director

2005. Pittsburgh

I am pleased to announce the tour of the exhibition Groundworks: Environmental Collaboration in Contemporary Art organized by the Regina Gouger Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon. The exhibition will seek to clarify the role of artists in questions of urban nature and culture. It will feature artworks that are, in effect, case studies in social, ecological change. I am writing to you today to invite you to participate in the tour of this exciting project, which has been honored with awards from Altria, Inc., the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, and the Pittsburgh Foundation.

The Groundworks exhibition provides a unique opportunity to reach out to a community comprised of and interested in the interdisciplinary work being done by artists, environmental activists, planners, and scientists concerned with ecological change. It similarly provides an excellent forum for organizing companion lectures, symposia and gallery talks devoted to environmental issues in your own community.

The Groundworks exhibition is curated by Grant H. Kester, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of San Diego, and author of the recently published, Conversation Pieces: Community and Communications in Modern Art. Kester writes:

Artists throughout the modern period have turned to natural themes (often through the rhetoric of landscape), and have also claimed a special affinity with the world of nature. What is more unusual in recent art practice is that this essentially representational relationship to nature has been supplemented by a commitment to direct intervention. Building on the tradition established by earth art pioneers such as Helen and Newton Harrison, Agnes Dennis, and Alan Sonfist, artists over the past decade have developed a remarkable range of projects that offer concrete solutions to specific ecological problems ranging from brownfield reclamation to the survival of family farms.

Groundworks: Environmental Collaborations in Contemporary Art will provide an overview of recent projects, bringing more established practitioners into conversation with emerging groups in the United States, England, Austria, Japan and Argentina. This generational dialogue will overlay a set of geographic exchanges, in which artists working in western Pennsylvania will be exhibited in the context of a growing national and international environmental art movement.

Groundworks will show work within a gallery setting that typically is made and encountered outside of institutionalized art spaces. The exhibition and catalogue will raise specific questions of how to integrate formally what is exhibited in the gallery with ongoing processes and their impact upon communities, places, ecosystems and policies. The exhibition team seeks to inspire our audience, to provide tools for practitioners, raise the ideals of citizens and develop a poignant public dialogue about art, ecology and change.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue produced by the Miller. Since so much of the work in the Groundworks exhibition crosses disciplinary boundaries between art and activism, science and policy, we have assembled a diverse team of scholars to provide catalogue essays, including noted scholars: Maurine Greenwald, associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Pittsburgh; Maria Kaika, university lecturer in Urban Geography at Oxford University; Andrew Light, assistant professor of Environmental Philosophy and director of the Environmental Conservation Education Program; Grant H. Kester, associate professor of art history at the University of California, San Diego; and Malcolm Miles, reader in cultural theory, School of Art and Design, University of Plymouth.

Please check out the exhibition facts sheet for more details.

Jenny Strayer

Regina Gouger Miller Gallery
Carnegie Mellon University
412 268 3877