Public art, environment, history, and the locals all collide in the Anacostia River

Read the full post at Grist.

The Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C., reacted less than embracingly last month to the idea of an artist submerging a “mock gas station” into its eponymous river as an artistic statement about climate change.

Mia Feuer’s “Antediluvian” proposal was supposed to clue drivers traveling the bridge over the Anacostia River that the gas in their tanks was abetting climate destabilization. The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities ordained Feuer’s concept as a crown feature of its upcoming 5×5 Festival.

But the mostly African-American, working-class Anacostia community, which has been fighting for the government’s attention to clean the river for decades, felt that the project sent the wrong message. The project was ultimately nixed when the D.C. Department of the Environment said that it would interfere with efforts underway to mitigate river pollution. Rejecting the site was appropriate — as Feuer has accepted herself — given that D.C. has been less than embracing of Anacostia for basically all of its history.

As disappointing as this decision is for those who donated thousands of dollars to see this climate change critical Elenchus happen, Feuer, an accomplished artist well before this, may pull “Antediluvian” off at another time in another city.

Still, the controversy that arose from the project’s mere announcement illustrates what happens when the various activist tributaries of climate change, public art, environmentalism, and environmental justice converge. Each feeder carries its own baggage and that means it’s fated to get messy at the confluence — that is unless social equity is considered up front.

Let’s unpack some of this baggage, as it helps explain the Anacostia River art fiasco and why it played out the way it did.

Broken Pots Turned Into Brilliant DIY Fairy Gardens

Read the full post and view the images at Bored Panda.

A new trend in gardening has gardeners creating all sorts of creative garden arrangements and fairy gardens out of broken pots, proving that even a broken pot can be useful and beautiful.

Down to Earth: Herblock and Photographers Observe the Environment

Read the full story and view the online exhibition from the Library of Congress.

Environmental issues affect everyone on planet Earth—the quality of the water and food we consume, the air we breathe, and the parks we enjoy. The images selected for this exhibition are among the Library’s most compelling compositions because their creators intended to provoke reaction and inspire change.

Hacker Musician Turns E-Waste Into an Awesome Instrument

Read the full story in Wired.

We tend to think of musical instruments in fixed terms: that’s a guitar, this is a saxophone, that’s a synthesizer. Colten Jackson, however, plays an instrument that’s hard to classify. The Illinois musician hacked together what he calls the Hard Rock Guitar out of e-waste: six obsolete hard drives, and an old keyboard number pad, powered by an Arduino board. At Jackson’s command, it emits a range of synthy, ambient tones. If he wants to change the notes or scales, he need only tinker with the software. “Instruments are this free-form art; they just have to make sound,” he says. “Whatever you start with, whether it’s garbage or e-waste, it lends itself to something.”

Old Farm Equipment And Scrap Metal Turned Into Stunning Sculptures

See all of the images (they’re incredibly beautiful) at Bored Panda.

South Dakotan sculptor John Lopez creates life-sized scrap metal sculptures with a uniquely Western American twist. In his hands, old discarded farm equipment is recycled into sculptures of iconic creatures from the American West like a bison, a horse plowing a field, or a Texas Longhorn.

Lopez already had a career as a bronze sculptor, but after creating a family grave for his deceased aunt using scrap metal, he began creating recycled metal sculptures out of found or donated pieces of metal as well.

My favorite part about these pieces is the texture,” explains Lopez. “I just start grabbin’ stuff from the pile and welding it, in and if you weld enough of the same thing on over and over it creates this really cool texture that I’ve never seen in these kinds of pieces before. And I think that’s what draws people in.

Welded scrap metal sculpture of a horse by John Lopez

Welded scrap metal sculpture by John Lopez

Call for Papers: Ecomusicologies 2014: Dialogues

Call for Papers
4-5 October 2014
University of North Carolina at Asheville (USA)
Deadline for proposals: 14 May 2014
Ecomusicologies 2014: Dialogues will bring together artists and scholars to stimulate discussion on music, culture, and the environment. The conference is part of the multi-day event series, “Ecomusics” (3-7 October 2014), which will include concerts, soundwalks, workshops, and outings (e.g., field trips to the Moog Factory, Black Mountain College, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park). Not only do the fall colors of October in the Appalachian Mountains make Asheville, North Carolina, an ideal place to be, but its history also makes it an ideal gathering spot for a conference on ecomusicology: it is where Bartok composed his Piano Concerto No. 3, where John Cage conducted happenings, and where Buckminster Fuller created his geodesic dome. If you would like to participate in the conference but would prefer not to travel for environmental or other reasons, you will have the option to participate as presenter or audience member via the Internet.
The conference theme, “Dialogues”, aims to foster common ground, where participants representing diverse backgrounds (academic, artistic, industry, non-profit, et al.) can learn about and exchange ideas on ecomusics. In addition to general ecomusicology topics, the conference committee encourages submissions that respond, but are not limited, to the following topic fields:
  • Musical collaboration (in, for, or with the environment)
  • Improvisation (human and non-human)
  • The music industry
  • The sound of “green”
  • Acoustic ecology
  • Ecopoetics and sound
  • Race, class, gender
  • Sustainability
  • Musician/academic-as-activist
Scholars from any academic field are invited to submit proposals to present in a variety of formats, including:
  • Panels (3 to 5 participants, 30-90 minutes),
  • Papers (20 or 30 minutes),
  • Posters (electronic or paper format), and
  • Alternative formats (performance, film, installation, lecture demonstration, etc.).
An author may submit up to two proposals (on related or separate topics).

More info is available at:


Corporate sustainability messaging isn’t working – it’s time to look to the arts

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Interest in art as a tool for environmental engagement is growing at pace, as groups such as Tipping Point, Cape Farewell and the Case for Optimism testify. But are the arts really the best way to connect everyday people with the big environmental challenges of the day?