The Rauschenberg Residency: Rising Waters Confab

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The Rauschenberg Residency: Rising Waters Confab

April 27, 2015 - May 29, 2015

The Rising Waters Confab on Captiva Island aims to spark new thinking and influence civic will toward finding and spreading solutions to the rising waters of climate change. This will be a collective effort guided by a diverse array of artists and writers in a spirit of collaboration with others, such as scientists, philanthropists, activists, and island dwellers. By inviting artists and other creative thinkers to work within a common frame, this Confab suggests a different kind of residency where, in addition to having time for individual work and reflection, the participants come together for a common theme.  It also reflects the way that Robert Rauschenberg worked: experimentally, innovatively and collaboratively. Its focus on applying creativity to the issue of climate change is inspired and challenged by Rauschenberg’s legacy and his philosophy that art can change the world.

Cortada was selected by Buster Simpson, the curator for this residency, and an active artist who has been working since the 1970s on major infrastructure projects, site master planning, signature sculptures, museum installations, and community projects.

Robert Rauschenberg’s former home in Captiva, Florida – where he lived and worked for almost 40 years – has been converted into a multidisciplinary artists’ community inspired by his time at Black Mountain College. The Rauschenberg Residency advances new bodies of work, extends practices into new mediums, and serves as a research and development laboratory for performance-based projects.  The 20-acre site that stretches from beach to bay stimulates cross-disciplinary collaborations, as well as engenders a focus on the conservation of a sensitive and pristine environment. The site is infused with a unique history, creativity, beauty and serenity. After launching the program in 2012, we are now in our third residency season, serving over 70 artists/creative thinkers annually through seven month-long residencies.

The Rising Waters Confab participants:

Buster Simpson (Curator)

Laura Sindell (Curator)

Anne Focke (Organizing Partner)
Writer/Creator of Enterprises & Projects

Eileen Berry
Poet, Collaborator with Leonard Berry

Leonard Berry, PhD
Climate Expert

David Buckland
Artist/Filmmaker/Director, Cape Farewell project

Mel Chin
Conceptual/Visual Artist

Xavier Cortada
Site-Specific Artist

Gretel Ehrlich

John Englander
Oceanographer/Sea Level Rise Expert

Lewis Hyde
Poet/Essayist/Cultural Critic

Natalie Jeremijenko, PhD

Edward Morris
Artist, Co-Founder/Director, The Canary Project

Helen Nagge
Freelance Editor, Collaborator with Mel Chin

Jeremy Pickard

Andrea Polli, PhD
Environmental Artist/Writer

Susannah Sayler
Environmental Artist/Co-Founder, The Canary Project

Tom Van Lent, PhD
Scientist/Engineer/Director of Science & Policy, Everglades Foundation

Glenn Weiss
Public Art Consultant

June Wilson
Co-Director/Board Member, Quixote Foundation





The Rising Waters Confab aims to spark new thinking and influence civic will toward finding and spreading solutions to the rising waters of climate change. This is a collective effort guided by a diverse array of artists and writers in a spirit of collaboration with scientists, activists, advocates, philanthropists and island dwellers.





For more than four decades, Buster Simpson has been the ecological and social conscience for neighborhoods and cities in constant states of transition and renewal. His site-specific, agitprop, and process-driven art has surveyed the problems, scrutinized the context, and presented new frames of reference to provide local solutions for global issues. He employs intervention and temporary prototypes as a way to inform more lasting public works, and has worked on major infrastructure projects, site master planning, signature sculptures, museum installations, and community projects.


Since the late 1960s and early 1970s, Buster has been dedicated to working in the public realm; his method is grounded in a farsighted contract between the artist and where he lives. His career parallels the rise of public art in the Pacific Northwest and he has played a crucial role in establishing Seattle as a significant center for community-minded artistic practice. By acting locally while thinking globally, Buster has contributed greatly to the national and international debate on what constitutes responsible public art programs.



For 35 years Laura Sindell used clay as an artistic medium and source of inspiration, creating clay sculptures and pursuing a fascination with land art and indigenous clay architecture. In time, however, she became less interested in making objects and built structures and more interested in how places influence people. Her work has leapt toward a desire to create large-scale drawings on the ground plane, on open land. She has since created numerous public art commissions, often focusing on the ground plane as a way to activate space. Her photographs document her ephemeral drawings on the landscape. Laura is a museum educator at the Seattle Art Museum and the co-founder of Studio f, a photo gallery.






Anne Focke free-lances in the arts, philanthropy, and civil society. She has worked as an editor, writer and researcher; consultant and planner; nonprofit executive; organizer and start-up activist; public arts agency staffer; curator; and artist. She served for 10 years as the first executive director of Grantmakers in the Arts and for 18 years as co-editor of its journal, the GIA Reader. She has founded new enterprises including Arts Wire, an early online network; Artist Trust, serving Washington State artists; and/or, an artist center; and Artech, a for-profit art-handling company. The Anne Focke Gallery in Seattle’s City Hall acknowledges her contributions to the city.





Leonard Berry, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Geosciences, is the former director and founder of the Center for Environmental Studies (CES) at Florida Atlantic University. The mission of the CES is to collect, analyze and promote the use of scientifically sound information concerning tropical and sub-tropical, freshwater and estuary ecosystems. Its role is to bring the full resources of the Florida State University System to bear on the critical environmental management issues of the state and of tropical and subtropical ecosystems worldwide. Leonard’s areas of expertise include geomorphology, wetland ecosystems, and adaptation and mitigation of climate change. He has authored/edited 27 books and over 250 professional papers and reports. His wife, the poet Eileen Berry, will join him at the residency. They live in Boca Raton, FL.





In 2001, David Buckland created the Cape Farewell project, now a global entity, to instigate a cultural response to climate change. The work of the artists and climate scientists have been the subject of two major films that he produced – Art From The Arctic for the BBC and Burning Ice for Sundance. He has also co-curated major climate art exhibitions throughout the world, including “Art and Climate Change,” National History Museum, London; “Earth,” Royal Society of Arts; “Carbon 12,” EDF foundation gallery, Paris; “Carbon 13,” Ballroom Texas; and “Carbon 14,” in Toronto. David is a designer, artist and filmmaker whose lens-based works have been featured in numerous exhibitions and collections internationally, as well as published in five books of his photography. David is based in London.



MEL CHINMAY 17 – MAY 29, 2015


Mel Chin’s art, which is both analytical and poetic, evades easy classification. He is known for the broad range of approaches in his art, including works that require multi-disciplinary, collaborative teamwork and works that conjoin cross-cultural aesthetics with complex ideas. He insinuates art into unlikely places, including destroyed homes, toxic landfills, and even popular television, investigating how art can provoke greater social awareness and responsibility. Mel’s work was documented on the popular PBS program, Art of the 21st Century, and he has received numerous awards and grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, the Joan Mitchell Foundation and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, among others. He will be collaborating with his wife, editor Helen Nagge, during the residency. Mel and Helen live outside of Asheville, NC.





Xavier Cortada often collaborates with scientists in his art-making, creating art installations that have generated awareness of global issues, depicted important scientific discoveries, explored genetic histories, and contributed to reforestation. He is currently working with scientists at Hubbard Brook LTER on a water cycle visualization project driven by real-time data collected at a watershed in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. He has worked with groups globally to produce collaborative art projects, including peace murals in Cyprus and Northern Ireland, child welfare murals in Bolivia and Panama, AIDS murals in Switzerland and South Africa, and eco-art projects in Taiwan, Hawaii, Holland and Latvia. Xavier is based in Miami.

ORION CRUZMAY 24 – MAY 29, 2015


Orion Cruz has worked in environmental law throughout the US and Latin America. He is a contributor to NACLA’s online column, Contested Natures, writing on the lives, places, and politics impacted by climate change, large-scale mining, gas, oil, and agro-energy industries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Published articles include “Chile’s Untapped Clean Energy Potential,” NACLA; “Looking Back: The 2009 World Social Forum,” Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA); “The Future of Mexico’s EZLN,” COHA; and “Columbia’s Political Horizon: The Rise of a New Left,” COHA. Orion currently lives in Kula, Hawaii.





Gretel Ehrlich is an American travel writer, poet and essayist. She debuted in 1985 with The Solace of Open Spaces, a collection of essays on life in rural Wyoming. In nearly a dozen works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry over the last three decades, Gretel has written about ranch life in Wyoming, the changing landscape of Arctic Greenland, and a pilgrimage to four sacred mountains in China. Her journeys are both physical and philosophical. She has also written for many periodicals including Harper’s, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Magazine. Among various awards and honors, Gretel won the inaugural 2010 PEN Thoreau Award, awarded to writers who demonstrate literary excellence in nature writing.






John Englander’s broad marine science background coupled with explorations in the High Arctic, Greenland and Antarctica, allow him to see the big picture on sea level rise and look ahead to the large-scale financial and societal impacts. He brings diverse points of view as an industry scientist, author, entrepreneur and CEO. He assists businesses and communities in understanding the risks as rising seas challenge us to adapt to a changing shoreline. His book, High Tide on Main Street, explains the impact of coastal crisis on our everyday lives. John lives in Boca Raton, FL.



WALTER J. HOODMAY 17 – MAY 23, 2015


Walter J. Hood, Professor of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning and Urban Design at UC Berkeley, is an artist, designer and educator. He is committed to the development of environments that reflect their place and time specifically through how people inhabit various geographies. He regularly exhibits and lectures on professional and theoretical projects nationally and internationally, while his studio engages in architectural commissions, urban design, art installations, and research. Walter serves as the Goldman Sachs Design Fellow for the Smithsonian Institute in DC, assisting the museum staff in reconceptualizing its public spaces. Walter is based in Oakland, CA.





Lewis Hyde is a poet, essayist, translator and cultural critic with a particular interest in the public life of the imagination. His most recent book, Common as Air, is a spirited defense of our “cultural commons,” that vast store of ideas, inventions, and works of art that we have inherited from the past and continue to enrich in the present. He is currently at work on A Primer for Forgetting, an exploration of the situations in which forgetfulness is more useful than memory. A MacArthur Fellow and former director of undergraduate creative writing at Harvard University, Lewis teaches during the fall semesters at Kenyon College, where he is the Richard L. Thomas Professor of Creative Writing. During the rest of the year, he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he is an Associate of Harvard’s Mahindra Humanities Center.





Natalie Jeremijenko blends art, engineering, environmentalism, biochemistry and more to create real-life experiments that enable social change. Her projects and those with an artists’ collective called the Bureau of Inverse Technology have consisted of creating devices and situations for the purpose of gathering overlooked facts. As director of the xDesign Environmental Health Clinic at NYU, she helps prescribe creative health solutions for the environment that are carried out by volunteers. As a professor in NYU’s Visual Art Department, she creates and supervises real-life projects for her students. She was included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial of American Art and MIT Technology Review named her one of the most influential women in technology in 2011. Natalie lives and works in New York City.




Edward Morris is an artist, consultant and sustainability advocate. In 2006, he co-founded The Canary Project, a nonprofit, with his wife, Susannah Sayler, and later assumed the role of Director. The Canary Project’s mission is to produce art and media that deepens public understanding of human-induced climate change. He is also the principal of Lynx Insights & Investigations, an investigations and consulting company that specializes in work for non-profits, lawyers and investors. In 2008, he was awarded a Loeb Fellowship from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Edward currently teaches in the Transmedia department at Syracuse University.





Jeremy Pickard is the Founder and Captain of Superhero Clubhouse in Queens, NY, a collective of artists and environmental advocates working at the intersection of science and theater. He has written and directed numerous productions including his signature series of ecology-inspired Planet Plays. Superhero Clubhouse creates original performances via a collaborative, green and rigorous process. Through the creation of new mythologies reflecting our changing world, they work to ignite environmental conversations among audiences and communities in the pursuit of revolutionary theater and ecological consciousness. He is the lead artist on Big Green Theater, an eco-playwriting program for Brooklyn 5th-graders that the Clubhouse produces annually in partnership with The Bushwick Starr. Jeremy also collaborates with climate scientists to create site-specific performances at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a project commissioned by PositiveFeedback and Columbia University’s Earth Institute.



Andrea Polli is an artist working at the intersection of art, science and technology whose practice includes media installation, public interventions, curating and directing art and community projects and writing. She has been creating media and technology artworks related to environmental science issues since 1999, when she first began collaborating with atmospheric scientists on sound and data sonification projects. Among other organizations, she has worked with the NASA/Goddard Institute Climate Research Group in New York City, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and AirNow. She holds a doctorate in practice-led research from the University of Plymouth in the UK. Her latest book is Far Field: Digital Culture, Climate Change and the Poles on Intellect Press. Andrea is an Associate Professor of Art and Ecology for both the College of Fine Arts and School of Engineering at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.





Susannah Sayler co-founded The Canary Project with her husband, Edward Morris, in 2006. The non-profit has produced projects involving more than 30 artists, scientists, writers, designers and educators, all in an effort to deepen public understanding of climate change. In her own current body of work, A History of the Future, Susannah photographed landscapes throughout the world where scientists are studying the impacts of climate change. The exhibition frequently combines her photography with other elements, such as archival objects and images, research, video and/or mixed-media installation. The project has been exhibited widely in group and solo shows across the country. In 2008-2009, she was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Susannah is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Transmedia at Syracuse University.

TOM VAN LENTMAY 17 – MAY 23, 2015


As the Director of Science and Policy at the Everglades Foundation, Tom Van Lent works on providing scientific and technical support to non-governmental environmental organizations supported by the Foundation. He presents expert analysis of hydrologic, engineering and ecological information to assist in development of Everglades restoration alternatives, and meets Everglades restoration and protection objectives.

He has a distinguished career as a scientist and engineer and has worked at the South Florida Water Management District, Everglades National Park and as an Assistant Professor at South Dakota State University. Tom received the George M. Barley Conservationist of the Year Award for his ability to convey highly technical information in understandable terms to decision-makers on Everglades restoration. He lives in Palmetto Bay, FL south of Miami.



GLENN WEISSMAY 10 – MAY 16, 2015


Glenn Weiss designs and implements arts and landscape programs to beautify public space and to expand community engagement for cities, neighborhoods and business districts across the country. Starting in the mid-1980s, he has worked as a Public Art Consultant to develop public art programs of both temporary and permanent artworks. From 2008 to 2011, he founded and directed a program of public art in Times Square, including performance, sculpture and billboards, for the Times Square Alliance. In 2003-2004 he developed the Delray Beach Cultural Loop with the artistic leadership of Rick Lowe of Project Row Houses in Houston, linking the diverse neighborhoods of downtown Delray Beach, FL, where he currently lives.



June Wilson’s talent for translating movement into meaningful patterns fits her work as Quixote Foundation co-executive director and board member. With 20 years experience in performing arts organizations, she understands people’s physical and emotional interactions within a literal, conceptual or practical space and can quickly translate what she sees into strategic systems. In addition to serving as CEO, COO and holding other nonprofit leadership positions, she has been an independent dancer, choreographer, advisor, NEA panelist and board volunteer. June lives in Seattle.


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