Broto's Affinity Conference Virtual Art Show: Symbiosis

Art Show: Symbiosis

“The great question, whether man is of nature or above her.” 
– George Perkins Marsh (1864)


Science tells us that the Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago and that human civilization is approximately 10,000 years old. In geologic time, we humans are the new kids on the block. But, our relationship with nature has changed dramatically in that relatively short period.

It has evolved from one of fear and dependence to one of exploitation and dominance. We are no longer just a part of the interconnected web of nature; we are having an outsized impact. In fact, we are now living in what many refer to as the Anthropocene – a time in which human activity has become the dominant influence on the environment.

The artworks in this exhibition reflect on the various aspects of that influence. From shifting weather patterns, changes to familiar landscapes, and biodiversity loss, to bioengineering and renewable energy, the images here explore both society’s use and overuse of natural resources.They also remind us that our relationship with nature is a two-way street, a partnership. As such, these images invite us to reconsider our relationship with our changing natural environment.

Melissa Fleming


Symbiosis Exhibit 2020

Broto Affinity Conference

Sesuvium portulacastrum, Carpobrotus glaucescens, and Ipomoea pes-caprae, stings remedial…
Renata Buziak
Archival print on paper
66.7 cm x 50 cm

This work presents three plants that grow on sand dunes and can be used together as a powerful remedy. As part of the Medicinal Plant Cycles series, it focuses on Australian healing plants, and draws on natural science and extensive consultations with members of the Quandamooka community on Minjerribah in SE Queensland.

This biochrome image, created by fusion of photographic and organic materials, in collaboration with nature’s processes, presents the raw beauty of life, the fundamental lifecycle of decay and renewal, that we are part of.

Climate change affects medicinal plants’ lifecycle, their phenology, where seasonal timing of events shifts. On a small Island this can include rain fall changes, and sea waters rising affecting the island’s unique ecology. Let’s closely consider the value of healing plants, helping to support and preserve traditional knowledge, natural environments and biodiversity.

Field Guide to a Hybrid Landscape traces the evolution of Nebraska National Forest, the largest hand-planted forest in the western hemisphere. This hybrid landscape of a conifer forest overlaid onto a semi-arid grassland just west of the 100th meridian was an ambitious late 19th century idea to create a timber industry, reclaim a “disordered” and “unproductive” landscape, and change the local climate. The first federal nursery was founded onsite in 1902 to provide seedlings for the new forest but now produces replacement seedlings for burned and beetle-damaged National Forests in the Rocky Mountain region as well as the Nebraska Conservation Trees Program. The Nebraska National Forest’s current focus is on conservation, grassland restoration, and native reforestation, which work to sequester carbon, maintain natural ecosystem balance, and mitigate large-scale climate change. This work offers a critical examination and a case study of a unique managed landscape that has implications far beyond its borders.











Spruce Seedlings and Forest Greenhouses from Field Guide to a Hybrid Landscape
Dana Fritz
Archival Pigment Prints
16 x 20 inches each


#Dodo Bird Lives Should Have Mattered 2020
Anna Fine Foer
Watercolor, collage
22 inches x 18 inches

This collage is part of a series about endangered or extinct species that require human intervention for survival The dodo bird is an extinct flightless bird that was found on the island of Mauritius and survived less than 100 years. The first recorded sighting was by Dutch sailors in 1598 and the last recorded sighting was in 1662. It became flightless because there was an abundance of food and had no predators and no defense mechanisms. It was wiped out not only by humans but also by the invasive species humans brought with them such as dogs and rats. I created a flying apparatus to assist the bird. The dodo bird is a symbol of extinction and obsolescence.  

Growing Wind in Greenland (2008)
Anna Fine Foer
Watercolor, collage, three-dimensional paper shapes
26 inches x 26 inches x 2 inches

Pinwheels are growing in fields of wind currents. The fields are made of maps of global wind currents and ocean wind roses (indicating the direction of winds) were used for the sky.I am intrigued with the idea of growing wind. Pinwheels are depicted instead of wind turbines to generate power because they look like flowers. Warm and cool colours were used when painting the pinwheels to represent warm and cool air currents. The stalks of the pinwheels are bamboo poles.












Reflect on Glacier (Matnuska Glacier, Alaska, 2020)
Jiabao Li, Cooper Galvin
Mirror, photo
1.6 m x 0.9 m


This series of work embodies the stunning beauty, rapid change, fragility, destructive power, and magnificence of glaciers. At the same time, they challenge the audience with the dramatic, irreversible ecological damages from climate change. In Reflect on Glaciers, we created a one-day long installation with mirrors reflecting the glaciers from the river that they disappeared into.

Placing the mirror,
On the lake formed by melting glacier, facing the glacier:
“This was me.”
On the glacier, facing the lake:
“This is my future.”

Isle Royale on September 1, 2004
Cecil Howell
Pastel, graphite, copper oxide, digital collage
12″ x 15″

Representing landscapes is a process of drawing ambiguities. Landscapes are infinitely old and constantly emerging, but a map represents only a moment in time. They are continuous yet fragmented by the artificial boundaries we project upon them. They are bound to the reality of their bedrock, yet our perceiving minds interpret them through a cloud of emotional and visual references. While scientific cartography can exquisitely define immediate realities, the emerging and impressionistic qualities of a landscape are often best explored through the arts.  This series captures a landscape from an aerial perspective, which typically conveys land as static. By adding the shifting patterns of clouds, as captured by satellite, and the weather data from the ground, the temporal influence of weather is rendered, giving weight to a force that is continuously reshaping our environment.


Sub Rosa (Clearing)
Pat Goslee
Acrylic, latex glitter on wood
48″ diameter x 1″ thick

It has often been noted that the human body is mostly water. But as a competitive swimmer who grew up near the mouth of Virginia’s James River — coming of age during the Kepone crisis of the 1970s — I have always felt an even deeper connection to and affinity for the fragile state of the world’s waterways: as an ecosystem, as a motivation for my artistic expression and as a metaphor for emotion. (For years, I have dreamt of water, sometimes horrifyingly so. I often wonder if the multiple instances of cancer of the residents near the river, including my father’s prostate cancer could be due to bioaccumulation of “forever” chemicals in the water.) Painting offers me the means to manifest not despair but rather hope. By using patterns and layering — sometimes via stencils made from plastic detritus and found objects — I manifest an image of deep, clear, flowing water. It’s a form of pelagic meditation, visualizing a river, a bay, an ocean, a world that is free from pollutants both organic and inorganic.

Joshua Trees and Fungi
Juniper Harrower
Ink, acrylic, Joshua tree seed oil, charcoal, on layered vellum
17 inches  x 22 inches

As an ecologist and multimedia artist, I specialize in species interactions under climate change. Joshua trees are threatened by the changing climate and will likely be extinct from their namesake national park within a century. Using ecological data that I have gathered from a decade of studying Joshua trees, I create multimedia paintings that illuminate hidden and complex species interactions between Joshua trees and their symbiotic soil fungi. The underground, abstracted and conceptual soilscapes hold an abundance of information on soil types, temperatures, and moisture that are coded as colors and texture in the work to reflect science findings. Illustrated root patterns are taken from Joshua tree roots grown in glass chambers and treated with desert soil fungi, allowing for a collaboration between the plant, fungi and myself when composing the piece. Each painting comes together as a unique visual and emotional experience of the Joshua tree ecosystem from a precise climatic location at my field sites.

Amortality (2020)
Aleksandra Rowicka, Inga Falkowska
5th Dimension Project
Installation: 100 cm x 60 cm x 40 cm
Photography: print on canvas 50 cm x 70 cm

“Amortality – Let’s experiment and live forever, maybe something will kill you sooner than eternity”

This work links a dead root with a promise of chemical revival. It poses many questions related to bioengineering and environmental problems. One aspect is people’s fight with aging. How far are we able to go to prolong our lives? What are we willing to sacrifice for this? On the other hand it also questions a quality of artificially achieved changes. One may think about many things, like ideas, projects, research or policies, which are artificially kept alive despite of a dying ecosystem. All the Installations of the 5th Dimension project are made from second hand items or spare parts.


Zip Bag 4x
Renee Butler
Silver paper, 10 “x10” ziplock bags
40 inches x 40 inches

My slides taken in Africa have been printed on silver paper and enclosed in 10 “x10” ziplock bags.They are stapled together into panels and affixed to a slats for hanging on the wall.  Some works have a mirror added to include the face of the viewer as part of the installation.