Shifting Baselines Residency and Exhibition Project

Cynthia Hooper, still from "La Cienega de Santa Clara," 2012, single channel color video, running time 2.5 minutes

Cynthia Hooper, still from “La Cienega de Santa Clara,” 2012, single channel color video, running time 2.5 minutes

Hugh Pocock, "One Thing, Constantly Changing #1" Photo credit: Hugh Pocock

Hugh Pocock, “One Thing, Constantly Changing #1” Photo credit: Hugh Pocock

Shifting Baselines
An Exhibition/Residency project
Curated by Patricia Watts
With work by Cynthia Hooper and Hugh Pocock

Gallery Talk & Exhibition Opening
Monday, January 7, 2013
6pm @ SFAI
$10 general | $5 students/seniors

Shifting Baselines Exhibition
January 8 – March 1
Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm @ SFAI

The Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI) is proud to present Shifting Baselines, a residency/exhibition project curated by Patricia Watts, as the inaugural event of SFAI’s 2013-2014 season of programming – Contested Space.

About Shifting Baselines:
Shifting baseline is a scientific term used to describe the way changes in the environment can be measured against previous reference points (baselines) that represent significant changes from the “original state.” For example, places that swarmed with a particular species hundreds of years ago may have experienced long-term decline, but it is the level of recent decades that are considered the appropriate reference point for current populations. In this way large declines in ecosystems or species over long periods of time were, and are, masked. There is a loss of perception of change that occurs when each generation redefines what is “natural.” This term has become widely used to describe the shift over time in the expectation of what a healthy ecosystem baseline looks like.

For the residency and exhibition titled Shifting Baselines, Hugh Pocock, an installation artist who has created an innovative undergraduate program minor in Sustainability and Social Practice at Maryland Institute of Contemporary Art, and Cynthia Hooper, a Northern California painter and video artist who teaches at College of the Redwoods in Eureka when she is not traveling the southwest to document water usage, have each been invited by guest curator Patricia Watts, founder of ecoartspace, to present both existing and new work at the Santa Fe Art Institute.

About Hugh Pocock:
Born in New Zealand and raised in the United States, Hugh Pocock’s work seeks to integrate the dynamics of natural and cultural phenomena. The intersections of labor, industry and organic materials, such as water, air, salt, wood and earth, as well as the history and metaphor of the human relationship these natural resources are key issues Pocock investigates in his sculptural installations, videos and performance work. Over the past two decades, he has shown internationally exhibiting in many galleries and museums including Portikus Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, the Wexner Museum, the Santa Monica Museum of Art and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Pocock’s work has also been built for “non-art sites” such as private homes, movie theatres and farms. He received his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and then completed his MFA at UCLA in New Genres. He lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland and is teaching Sculpture, Video and Social Practice courses that focus on the impact of Climate Change and issues of Sustainability at Maryland Institute College of Art.

Pocock will create a new work titled One Thing, Constantly Changing, an installation addressing the rapid decline of polar ice that is currently underway. This work will explore our connectivity to the planet using the gallery as a demonstration site for how the dynamics of heat and water are responding and adapting to our human activity. Local snow and Baltimore rainwater will be collected and transported to the gallery where it will be filtered through a sculptural installation to provide drinking water for gallery visitors. Also, a sample of Arctic ice will evaporate in the a gallery over the exhibition to illustrate how current drought conditions being experienced so severely in the Southwest are intimately connected to the loss of ice at the poles.

Hugh Pocock’s work can be seen at his website:

About Cynthia Hooper:
Cynthia Hooper’s videos, paintings, and interdisciplinary projects investigate landscapes transfigured by social and environmental contingency. Her work is meditative and poetic, but also takes a generously observational and generally factual approach toward the places she examines. She has worked with Tijuana’s complex urban environment and infrastructure, as well as contested and politicized water issues along the U.S./Mexico border. Her recent projects include an investigation of the artificial wetlands of Mexico’s Colorado River Delta, and these wetlands’ complicated relationship with U.S. political and environmental policy. Her recent exhibits include the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City, The Centro Cultural Tijuana, Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco, and MASS MoCA. Cynthia has also been awarded residencies at the Headlands Center for the Arts and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, as well as a Gunk Foundation grant.

Hooper will present a new series of watercolors and video works that address contested water issues along the U.S./Mexico border, including the urgent issue of binational cooperation in borderland wetland restoration. Her three short videos Andrade Mesa, La Cienega de Santa Clara, and Las Arenitas document three beautiful and politically complicated Mexican wetlands in the Colorado River Delta, and are a part of her Humedales Artificiales: Three Transnational Wetlands interdisciplinary project. Four additional videos in this exhibition also deal with water scarcity issues: including MODE, about controversial border-crossing water that links an agricultural district in Arizona to an endangered wetland in Mexico; Jefferson’s Monuments, a meditative visual inventory of four monumental dams on California’s and Oregon’s mighty Klamath River—dams that have blocked critical salmon spawning habitat for upwards of 100 years, but also provide cheap hydroelectric power for farmers upriver in Oregon; MEXIMPERIALI, about the extensive agricultural infrastructure of the vast, binational Colorado River Delta; and CESPT, about the extensive and varied municipal water infrastructure of Tijuana, B.C., Mexico.

About Patricia Watts:
Patricia Watts is founder and west coast curator of ecoartspace, a nonprofit platform for artists addressing environmental issues in the visual arts since 1999. She has curated over 20 exhibitions including MAKE:CRAFT (2010) at the Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles; Hybrid Fields (2006) at the Sonoma County Museum, Santa Rosa, CA; and produced a site-specific temporary public art installation entitled Windsock Currents (2005) on Crissy Field in the Presidio, San Francisco, for UN World Environment Day. She is currently working with the Santa Fe Art Institute on two residency projects including Shifting Baselines, and a statewide residency project in New Mexico titled Getting Off the Planet (2011-2013).

About Contested Space:
CONTESTED SPACE will explore the complex contemporary landscape: social, political, physical, and cultural, and the arts, ideas and artists that play a major role in shaping public understanding of the powerful dynamics of those spaces.

Historically, land was the great frontier and artists had a major role in shaping public understanding of those spaces. Now the frontiers of the past have become the “contested spaces” of the present. These new frontiers are no longer just physical space, but constantly assume new morphologies- local, national, transnational, geopolitical, social, cultural, physical, virtual. At this point in time the planet has been entirely mapped and Googled and has become a globalized space that conveys the fears and hopes of humankind. Cosmic space is being unraveled and mapped and we are closing all the distances that seemed, at one point, unimaginably vast. When distance has been abolished and time and space have shrunk, can art still explore new territory? Yes, it is the territory of “contested space” in which transformation and re-imagining begins and the arts play a central role.

Artists are powerful commentators and describers of these spaces, presenting diverse perspectives and creative ways of engagement. From the vast openness of the internet to the closed, restrictive space of a jail cell, from urban center to wildlife preserve, artists make art that offers new perspectives: challenging assumptions, presenting new ideas, opening discourse and inviting the audience to engage around important issues.

By presenting artists and their works through lectures, workshops, exhibitions, residencies, and arts education to the youth of our city and region, we use the arts to foster individual thinking, creative engagement, and community by focusing on the arts to offer new ways to participate in and navigate contemporary life. We invite artists who bring Native, Hispanic, Asian, and Anglo perspectives supporting the diversity and history of our region.

This programming reflects our mission to support and promote the arts as a positive social force by presenting artists whose work addresses important issues of social justice, cultural freedom and environmental responsibility. These programs support creation of and public access to art, nurture artists at all phases of their careers, and foster learning via the arts for people of all ages.

About the Santa Fe Art Institute:
The Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI) founded in 1985, is an independent non-profit community-based arts center with international reach that presents and promotes art as a positive social force. SFAI fosters the exploration of contemporary art by enlivening public discourse on art, nurturing artists at all phases of their careers, and encouraging learning via the arts for people of all ages through five key program areas: 1) Ongoing residencies that provide support necessary for visual and new media artists, writers and poetry translators, performance artists and composers to complete work and explore new creative directions; 2) An annual season of lectures and workshops that stimulates discourse around important issues in the arts; 3) Small, focused exhibitions that challenge audience assumptions; 4) Publications; and 5) Community-based arts education and outreach that support creativity and innovation, provide an alternative pathway for learning, and expand the traditional skillset available to people young and old.

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