Restoration as an Embodied Arts Practice: a Collaboration with the University of New Mexico's Land Arts of the American West Program.
Photo by: Colin Treiber
Land Arts of the American West, at the University of New Mexico, is an ongoing experiment and
interdisciplinary model for creative and critical arts pedagogy based in place. This program puts
students in direct contact with place of the American Southwest through Field Investigations,
Research, Creative Production, and Public Presentation/Dissemination. During the program,
students travel extensively throughout the Southwest for up to 50 days, while camping and
investigating environmental sites, human habitation systems, and questions facing the region.
Methodologies include the melding of direct experience, critical research, creative inquiry,
interdisciplinary collaboration, and artistic production. Recent topics of investigations have
focused on Watershed, US/Mexico Border, Foodshed, Utopian Architecture, Land Use, Eminent
Domain, Resource Extraction and Rights of Nature.
In October 2017, Land Arts students will visit Patagonia, AZ for one week to consider Rights of
Nature in the U.S./Mexico borderlands. Students will collaborate with Borderlands Restoration to
investigate the various forces of movement that have a hand in shaping both the physical and
cultural landscapes of this unique region- from hydrology and population fluctuations, to
migrations of flora and fauna, and other human activities that impact land (i.e. extractive
industries or the increased presence of Border Patrol). The group will examine how humans
inevitably have a hand in impacting these natural movements, such as altering geomorphology
or causing loss of habitat through building projects, and will inquire about ways to intentionally
make this impact restorative rather than degenerative. Finally, students will investigate the role
of land stewardship work as a means of giving visibility and voice to life which cannot demand
its rights in a language intelligible to humans. Active engagement in a collaborative habitat and
watershed restoration project will provide an embodied experience of the landscape and
experimentation with ecological restoration as a form of site specific art.
Photos by: Collin Treiber
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