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Megan Abajian
School of Fine Arts (SoFA) Gallery

Jennifer Piurek
University Communications

Last modified: Thursday, August 13, 2009

'Green conscious' art at IU: SoFA Gallery to present exhibit on climate change

Aug. 13, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Activist art comes to Indiana University Bloomington in September when the School of Fine Arts (SoFA) Gallery presents "The Canary Project: Works on Climate Change 2006-2009," a new exhibit that opens Friday, Sept. 4, and runs through Friday, Oct. 9.

The Canary Project produces visual media and artworks about climate change. Canary Project co-founders Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris, who are renowned as innovators in the field of interdisciplinary and activist art, will speak about their work Sept. 4 (5:30 p.m. in Radio/TV 251) in a lecture titled "33 Provocations on Climate Change." A reception follows from 7 to 9 p.m. in the SoFA Gallery, 1201 E. 7th St., featuring "Focus Softens Circles," a performance by San Francisco-based musician and computer programmer Joshua Kit Clayton.

"The SoFA Gallery is pleased to present this exhibit and to host the founding members of the Canary Project at Indiana University," said Betsy Stirratt, director of the SoFA Gallery. "The opportunity to promote engagement with a related class makes our exhibits particularly relevant to the educational mission of IU."

Other Canary Project events, all free and open to the public, include:

Friday, Sept. 18, 5:30 p.m., FA 015: Artist Fritz Haeg will give a lecture titled "Welcoming the Wild" in conjunction with the exhibition, with a reception to follow in the SoFA Gallery.

Friday, Oct. 2, 5:30 p.m., Woodburn Hall 101: Renowned writer William L. Fox will present a lecture titled "Art, the Anthropocene, and Global Change."

Peru Glaciers

Glacial, Icecap and Permafrost Melting XLVII: Cordillera Blanca, Peru, 2008 Archival Pigment Print, by Susannah Sayler for The Canary Project

Print-Quality Photo

Stirratt said the Canary Project exhibit will be closely tied in with the eight-week, multidisciplinary course "Engagement/Art/Activism: Response and Intervention on Climate Change," to be taught by the two Canary Project principals from Aug. 24-Oct. 31.

"The opportunity to promote engagement with a related exhibit and class makes our exhibits particularly relevant to the educational mission at IU," Stirratt said.

The exhibit brings together works by more than a dozen Canary Project artists, including project founders Sayler and Morris. Collectively, the works explore ways in which the prospect of catastrophic climate change challenges the limits of human comprehension and agency. Stirratt said the exhibition posits that these challenges can be a source of inspiration, melancholic beauty, engagement or defeat.

In the west gallery will be a new installation by Sayler/Morris that juxtaposes objects selected from various collections at IU, with Sayler's large-scale photographs of landscapes where -- according to scientists -- impacts of climate change are evident. The interlacing of archival objects and recent photographs represents an extreme collapsing of time and a suggestion of what is at stake in this present moment. Objects on view include material from collections at IU Bloomington's Mathers Museum, the Biology Department, the Lilly Library and the Deem Herbarium.

The exhibit also includes an installation by Sayler/Morris titled "Quartet for the End of Time" that uses poker as a metaphor for negotiation and decision-making; a gallery intervention by Joshua Kit Clayton that will involve conversations with gallery viewers and planned focus groups; "Green Patriot" posters by Michael Bierut, Nancy Skolos, a group of artists known as "village" and others arranged in a giant collage by Diego Guitterez; and an inaugural "Canary Stories" audio piece by Amanda Burr.

Fritz Haeg, creator of Edible Estates, will give a lecture titled "Welcoming the Wild," where he will talk about various editions of gardens in 14 locations and will detail the strategies for weaving wild activities into our existing cities.

Several past Canary Project collaborations will also be employed including: an installation by Joshua Kit Clayton titled "Moment;" video and installation by Jon Santos titled "Sublimation of Ice;" "Increase Your Albedo!" dresses by Annie Murdock; and "HighWaterLine," a documentation of a performance and intervention by Eve Mosher.

For more information, contact the SoFA Gallery at 812-855-8490, send e-mail to, or visit The SoFA Gallery is accessible to people with disabilities. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 12-4 p.m., and it is closed Sundays and Mondays.