The Gila Collective includes artists and activists that use art to inspire action on urgent water and environmental problems. Gila Collective participants are painter and video artist Peter Bill; composer, video and olfactory artist Stephen Dirkes; potter and animator Kate Brown; and environmental activist Allyson Siwik.
Peter Bill is Assistant Professor of New Media at Western New Mexico University. A painter and video artist, Bill’s work both inspires and provokes. His murals and video works typically involve local communities in their conception and realization. Bill has worked with street artists in Juarez to address border issues, and has brought their work to the U.S. to exhibit. The Gila River and the fight to protect it have been a focus of Bill’s collaborative work over the past three years.
Stephen Dirkes has been exploring multi‑media/immersive/new media art for several decades. He has had extensive classical music composition study and currently works as a composer in NYC. After several years of composing for theatre, dance and film, he became involved with filmmaking and narrative and non‑narrative storytelling. Dirkes has worked extensively with Peter Bill to explore aspects of landscape and nature in immersive art installation, exhibitions and films. Exploration that embraces traditional painting, time lapse, stop motion, still photography, scent, sound, music and film informs our artist language and broadens our reach of creative communication. In 2015, he founded an “art centric” perfume house, Euphorium Brooklyn, with the ambition of exploring olfaction to incorporate this powerful and enigmatic sense in his multi‑media creations.
Kate Brown is a master of slip-decorated, clear-glazed terra cotta ware, creating patterns that reflect her life in the foothills near the Gila wilderness: plants, animals, sky and human forms, bold and loose. During a sabbatical in 2001, she returned to school to study animation at Evergreen State College. To date she has created five animated short films: Ursa Dream, (2005) and Human Thing (2007), Fire Season (2013), First Light (2014), Gila River: Up Against the Wall (2015). She took possession of an antique Oxberry Animation Stand, and has spent the past five years on its restoration and updating. She creates under-the-camera, hand-made animations in her wilderness animation studio, Fundamentalist Flowerchild Productions.
Allyson Siwik is an environmental activist based in Silver City, NM. Serving as the director of the Gila Resources Information Project and Gila Conservation Coalition, she works to protect groundwater from pollution caused by copper mining and advocates for conservation of the Gila River, New Mexico’s last free‑flowing river. Siwik has more than 25 years of experience in environmental protection, including 12 years with the US Environmental Protection Agency. She has worked extensively with communities locally, regionally and along the U.S.‑Mexico border to identify and resolve environmental problems.
Jacinthe TwoBulls is a weaver of cedar bark, spruce roots, nettles, maidenhair fern, and wool. Her basketry celebrates the subtle beauty of nature. Born in Ketchikan, Alaska, TwoBulls was raised in Hydaburg, Alaska. She is of the Stáas’taas clan of the Haida Nation and her crests include Eagle, beaver, sculpin, and frog. TwoBulls learned the art of Haida basketry from her mother, Vicki LeCornu. At the age of seven she wove her first cedar bark basket with yarn twining. Since then she has completed hundreds of baskets. TwoBulls learned the art of Haida form-line and woodcarving from her father, Adrian LeCornu. She has applied Haida form-line to baskets with paint and false-embroidery. In 2016, TwoBulls received a Rasmuson Foundation Project Award, which enabled her to create an outfit made of cedar bark. She continues to work on innovative and sustainable textiles on her home in Hydaburg, Alaska.
La Pocha Nostra is an ever growing cross-disciplinary arts organization and non-profit based in San Francisco, California with branches in Central and South America, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific. La Pocha Nostra was founded in 1993 by Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Roberto Sifuentes, Michèle Ceballos Michot and Nola Mariano in Los Angeles. The goal was to formalize conceptually Gómez-Peña’s collaborations with other performance artists. Current core members of La Pocha include Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Michèle Ceballos Michot, Saul Garcia Lopez, Balitronica Gómez, Emma Tramposch, and Nayla Altamirano. Our projects range from performance solos and duets to large scale multi-sensory performance installations involving photo, video, sound and projection. If there is a common denominator, it is our desire to cross and erase dangerous borders including those between art and politics, art practice and theory, artist and spectator – ultimately to dissolve borders and myths of purity whether they be specific to culture, ethnicity, gender or language.
Meghan Moe Beitiks works with associations and disassociations of culture/nature/structure. She analyzes perceptions of ecology through the lenses of site, history, emotions, and her own body in order to produce work that analyzes relationships with the non-human. The work emerges as video, performance, installation, writing or photography depending on what arises from her process of research and improvisation. She received her BA in Theater Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she studied playwriting, acting, movement and scenic design. She has an MFA in Performance Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she studied Bio Art, Social Practice, Environmental Chemistry, and performance methodologies. She was a Fulbright Student Fellow, a recipient of the Claire Rosen and Samuel Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists, and a MacDowell Colony fellow. She has taught performance at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and exhibited her work at the I-Park Environmental Art Biennale, Grace Exhibition Space in Brooklyn, Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery in Chicago, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the House of Artists in Moscow, and other locations in California, Chicago, Australia and the UK.
Mildred Beltré is Brooklyn based artist, mother and activist working in print ,drawing and participatory politically engaged practice, to explore facets of social change. She is interested in exploring political movements and their associated social relations and structures. Her most recent work involves looking at revolutionary theorizing and posturing through a feminist lens. Beltré’s selected national exhibitions include: International Print Center New York, NYC; Burlington City Arts, Burlington, VT; Five Myles Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; BRIC, Brooklyn, NY; Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY; Freedman Gallery, Albright College, Reading, PA; University of Colorado, Boulder, CO; Art in General, NYC ; and international group shows at Projecto Ace, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Hollar Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic; Brun Leglise Gallery, Paris France, among others. Her work is included in the Special Collections of the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN among others. She has been awarded residencies at the Lower East Side Printshop, the Vermont Studio Center and the Santa Fe Art Institute. She has received grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Brooklyn Arts Council, Brooklyn Foundation and the Rema Hort Foundation, among others. Beltré is the co-founder of the Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine, an ongoing socially engaged collaborative art project in Crown Heights, Brooklyn that addresses gentrification and community building through art-making.
Moira Williams’ co-creative practice weaves together performance, group walks, sound, science and sculpture. She invites people to reconfigure familiar objects and social events to offer multiple opportunities for building our social imagination and questioning systems of power and influence. For Moiraparticipation is not about homogeneity it is in service of human connections and our connections to our world: to participate is to generate empathy and vitality. She has spoken at Open Engagement Conference for Art & Social Practice,Elastic City Walks Festival, Articulating Space Research Centre Falmouth University, UK and interviewed by C Magazine. Her works have been seen and supported by iLAND, The Kitchen, Flux Factory, ABC No Rio, NY, No Longer Empty, NY Cornell University, NY, The People’s Museum, Manchester, UK,CHRCH Projects Space, NY, Centennial National Park, Tennessee, WALK 21, Munich, Denniston Hill Artists Colony, NY, Footworks, London, Buffalo University, NY the Ghetto Biennale, Haiti and Santa Fe Art Institute, New Mexico. Moira is a Laundromat Project Fellow, and recently awarded a Creative Access Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Fellowship, Emergency Grant from the Contemporary Arts Foundation and Creative Capital selected Moira as an On Our Radar Artist. She holds a BFA from the School of Visual Arts NYC, an MFA with a Graduate Certificate in Spatial Politics from Stony Brook University, NY.