MCF Art Exhibit Showcases Sustainability as Social Justice

Works from members of the Women Environmental Artists Directory can be seen through Sept. 28 at the Marin Community Foundational office in Hamilton.

“Beyond Landscape,” a group exhibition of more than 150 juried artworks by artists who are members of the Women Environmental Artists Directory, is open for public viewing through Sept. 28 at the offices of the at Hamilton Landing in Novato.

WEAD’s work focuses on taking care of the planet and sustaining nature as a form of social justice. The mission of the organization is to focus on women’s unique perspectives to further the field and understanding of ecological and social justice art. It is a membership group that includes activist arts professionals, non-professionals, and artists of all genders.

The inspiration for “Beyond Landscape” comes from the work of New York artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles, who wrote the Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969. Ukeles is an honorary WEAD artist who has focused on environmental issues for more than 40 years. After giving birth to a child in 1968, she called herself a "maintenance worker" and fell out of her more traditional art making. The manifesto describes actions such as washing, cleaning, cooking, and making preserves as a form of contemporary art.

Ukeles’ manifesto exploring "what is art" has been influential over the years, and especially in the past decade, as artists have utilized the power of art to incite conversations about how we interact with nature and about our human impact. Examples of her influences are seen in this exhibition through the use of refuse as artistic material, subject matter that advocates protection of ecological systems, and a conceptual aesthetic that asks the viewer to think beyond traditional landscapes.

Jurors of the exhibit were Susan Leibovitz Steinman, artist and co-founder of WEAD (Oakland, CA); Bonnie Sherk, artist and founder and director of Life Frames, Inc. and A Living Library (San Francisco, CA); Gloria F. Orenstein, professor of comparative literature and gender studies at USC (Los Angeles, CA); Randy Jayne Rosenberg, executive director and chief curator for Art Works for Change (Oakland, CA); and Patricia Watts, founder/West Coast curator of ecoartspace (Occidental, CA).

Since 1996, the Women Environmental Artists Directory has focused on women’s unique perspectives to further understanding of ecological and social justice art. Run by a hands-on activist board of arts professionals, WEAD has been widely respected both for its printed directory of artists (1996-2009) and, since 1999, for a popular educational networking website. The online directory has more than 300 members. 

The Marin Community Foundation is the primary center for philanthropy in Marin County and is one of the largest community foundations in the U.S.  It manages the assets of the Leonard and Beryl H. Buck Trust and more than 400 funds established by individuals, families and businesses.  Now in its 25th year, the Marin Community Foundation has assets of approximately $1 billion, with annual grant distributions of about $50 million.

Artworks in “Beyond Landscape” include painting, photography, sculpture, and mixed media. The exhibit can be viewed weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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