Austria's Wörthersee Football Stadium has a new team on the playing field. Normally packed with up to 30,000 sports fans, the stadium has been transformed into a living forest in an attempt to bring attention to climate change and deforestation.
By Patrick Rogers
"I'm really into trees," said the sculptor Hugh Hayden. "I'm drawn to plants."
Hedges, 2019 © Hugh Hayden<p>Those illusory houses and their imaginary middle-class occupants, however, are not alone. Sprouting from holes in the walls is a thicket of bare tree branches that appear to colonize the living space. When seen in the mirrors, they form what looks like the world's longest hedgerow.</p>
© Hugh Hayden<p>There's an obvious tension in <em>Hedges</em> between human civilization and untamable wilderness. But Hayden, whose art tends to challenge perceptions of social order and the environment, is also interested in how people use nature as a form of camouflage to mask their differences in order to become part of their communities. "It's the idea of home ownership and being part of the American dream, of having a little house with its own yard — of blending into a landscape that is also a social landscape," he said.</p><p>Hayden mostly uses salvaged wood that he manipulates through carving and juxtaposition. The branches used in <em>Hedges</em> came from a display of Christmas trees that once stood in the median strip of Park Avenue in Manhattan — one of the nation's most pedigreed addresses, he notes — which lends his work an aspirational quality. And due to the mirrors placed around them, viewers cannot avoid encountering their own reflections. The artist said, "They're seeing themselves reproduced in something that is a fantasy. They see how they fit into that American dream."</p>
America, 2018 © Hugh Hayden<p>Hayden, who trained as an architect at Cornell and quit his day job designing in the hospitality industry last year to pursue art full time, has been finding great meaning in the trees that he uses as raw material for his sculptures. In 2018 he traveled to the U.S.–Mexico border and gathered branches of mesquite, a tree that many Texans regard as an undesirable invasive species. "Mesquite trees thrive where other trees can't, on limited resources like water. Given the issue on the border around immigration, I thought of the material as politically charged." Hayden used the thick branches in a sculpture titled <em>America</em>, which takes the form of a kitchen table and chairs, a classic symbol of welcoming and comfort, but with sharp protuberances that discourage gathering.</p><p>On the same Texas trip, the artist paired up with a crew of nursery scouts who buy slow-growing desert palmettos from landowners in the region and then resell them for a profit to wealthy urbanites in Houston. Together they located stands of so-called Texas ebony trees, which have a narrow range of growth in the southern part of the state and in northeastern Mexico. Hayden used the dark brown and blackish wood of the trees' interior in a pair of meticulously rendered sculptures that comment self-reflectively on the experience of young African-American men.</p><p>"To me, that species was like my own identity as a tree," he said. One piece, <em>Crown of Thorns,</em> which was exhibited at Art Basel in Miami Beach last year, was in the shape of a football helmet, with a knot of thorns inside that render it impossible to wear. The other, <em>Oreo, </em>shown at New York's Lisson Gallery, represented a baby's crib also studded with sharp thorns. "I was interested in positioning the imposed expectations of a black man in Texas. I hated playing football, for example, but it was the expectation that I play." As for the crib, its construction brings to mind the neoclassical architecture of a typical Texas courthouse, where, because of <a href="https://www.aclu.org/report/bullies-blue-origins-and-consequences-school-policing" target="_blank">systemic injustices</a>, an African-American man is likely to turn up during the course of his youth.</p>
Oreo, 2018 © Hugh Hayden<p>"I think people could interpret my work as an ad for a group like Greenpeace," Hayden said when asked if he considers himself a part of the environmental movement. "Of course, I am <em>for</em> the environment. But I would say my use of natural material is more an extension of my personal interests," he explained. "I like plants, and I like the idea that I can use something as ubiquitous as trees to change the way that people think."</p><p>Hedges<em> is on view at </em><a href="https://theshed.org/program/76-open-call-hugh-hayden" target="_blank"><em>The Shed in New York City</em></a><em> until August 25.</em></p>
Crown of Thorns, 2018 © Hugh Hayden
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By Clara Chaisson
Photographer Terry Evans has been piecing together prairies for more than 40 years.
Terry Evans's Ancient Prairies project<p>Landscape photography was not part of Evans's original plan during her years at the University of Kansas, where she received a BFA in painting. For years the Missouri-born artist drew inspiration from the relationships between people. But a decade after Evans graduated, a friend asked her to capture some images of a virgin prairie not far from Evans's home in Salinas, Kansas. She agreed, and the friendly favor forever changed the trajectory of her career.</p><p>"Suddenly I began to see the ground," <a href="http://www.terryevansphotography.com/project-statements/ancient-prairies" target="_blank">Evans wrote</a> of the experience. "The realization came that I could stand in one spot and look at the ground for at least an hour and still not see everything happening at my feet ... There was a whole cosmology there, and that was fascinating to me."</p><p>The artist's depictions of prairies have traveled far beyond the habitat's natural range in the middle of our continent. Her work has brought the American prairie to the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and more.</p>
Terry Evans's Ancient Prairies project
Terry Evans's Ancient Prairies project<p>Evans's interest in humanity's influence on the environment has also led her to industrial landscapes. Working alongside writer Elizabeth Farnsworth earlier this decade, she <a href="http://www.terryevansphotography.com/petcoke-in-chicago" target="_blank">documented activists fighting to ban petcoke</a> on the Southeast Side of Chicago, the city where she now lives and works. But after spending years working on projects such as <em>Petcoke vs. Grassroots</em>, <a href="http://www.terryevansphotography.com/north-dakota-oil-boom" target="_blank"><em>Fractured: North Dakota's Oil Boom</em></a> and <a href="http://www.terryevansphotography.com/steel-work-production" target="_blank"><em>Steel Work</em></a>, Evans said, "I started having this longing to see some undisturbed prairie again . . . Beauty matters for our spirit."</p><p>When she returned to Fent's Prairie, though, she found that something had changed within her. "I was no longer satisfied with making single images," Evans said. "It seemed like there's so much rich information and wisdom in an untouched or restored ecosystem."</p>
Terry Evans's Ancient Prairies project<p>The name of the series, <em>Ancient Prairies, </em>isn't intended to consign its subject matter to the past. "It's not about nostalgia, and they're not a eulogy of something that's gone," Evans said. "Rather, they're a celebration of life that can still inform us. We need these places as an archive of what an undisturbed ecosystem looks like."</p>
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By Clara Chaisson
Dutch interactive artist Thijs Biersteker is something like a real-life Lorax—except instead of speaking for the trees, he equips them with the technology to speak for themselves.
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At least eight million tons of plastic ends up in the world's oceans every year, and some of it washes up on the beautiful pink-sand beaches of Bermuda. But one inventive artist has found a way to turn this tragedy into a unique and educational take on the traditional Advent calendar, CNN reported.
Every day this December, travel photographer Meredith Andrews has been using her Instagram to add a new page to her "Adventgram." Each page photographs a collection of artfully arranged plastic items Andrews has found.
As Miami Battles Sea-Level Rise, This Artist Makes Waves With His 'Underwater Homeowners Association'
By Patrick Rogers
Miami artist Xavier Cortada lives in a house that stands at six feet above sea level. The Episcopal church down the road is 11 feet above the waterline, and the home of his neighbor, a dentist, has an elevation of 13 feet. If what climate scientists predict about rising sea levels comes true, the Atlantic Ocean could rise two to three feet by the time Cortada pays off his 30-year mortgage. As the polar ice caps melt, the sea is inching ever closer to the land he hopes one day to pass on to the next generation, in the city he has called home since the age of three.
By Clara Chaisson
Anthropocene is a clunky word for an even more unwieldy concept. But props to the Merriam-Webster team who have given us a dictionary definition that's easy enough to follow.
By Jeremy Deaton
Eighteenth century French choreographer Jean-Georges Noverre once wrote, "A fine picture is but the image of nature; a finished ballet is nature herself." Noverre was arguing for the immediacy of dance. Twenty-first century American choreographer Diana Movius took his words literally.
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Update: The window for photo submissions has ended. The winner will be announced this Wednesday, November 21.
EcoWatch is pleased to announce its first photo contest! Show us what in nature you are most thankful for this Thanksgiving. Whether you have a love for oceans, animals, or parks, we want to see your best photos that capture what you love about this planet.
By Patrick Rogers
The fact that nature and nation share a common root—the Latin verb nasci, "to be born"—might rate as trivia to most people. But in the context of early American art, at least, the connection has profound cultural meaning. Paintings of natural vistas, from New York's Hudson Valley to the purple mountains and red deserts of the West, became early symbols of a young nation and its so-called manifest destiny. In the minds of many early Americans and pioneers, the land was out there for "us" (as in, men of European decent) to celebrate—but also to conquer. The very idea of American civilization meant destroying some of those beautiful, natural vistas to build the cities, farms, and factories of the future.
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Banksy, who infamously shredded his "Girl With Balloon" painting at an auction on Friday, has inspired people to whip up their own versions of the artwork.
The images are centered around a timely and poignant theme: climate change.
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