Collaboration: Ecology Extended
Ecology Extended Update
Ecology Extended’s collaboration team spent a mid-September weekend on a grand tour of Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest led by Lead Research Ecologist Lindsey Rustad. Accompanied by Rich Blundell of Oika and artist Rita Leduc.
Ecology Extended is a project which explores “the pathways by which the ecological dynamics of nature can extend into culture through visual art.”
From Rita: “The weekend gave me an overview of the research happening at Hubbard Brook which is known internationally for its long term studies of air, water, soils, plants, and animals. And let me tell you: it’s comprehensive and critical. But beyond learning about the science, we also spent time sharing ideas and learning about each other. Now I’m back for two weeks and really diving in.”
Lindsey in full glory, showing us the recently-organized weekly water samples going back..50 years at least??
Rich in front of the Hubbard Brook Ice Storm Experiment, asking “real talk” questions about climate communication.
Me describing the benefits of “music art” over “podcast art” and basking in that beech tree light.
The Ecology Extended collaboration team will explore the pathways by which the ecological dynamics of nature can extend into culture through visual art. The one-year project, taking place for Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire, will explore a more direct human-nature relationship, especially an essential response to the climate crisis.
Rita Leduc (Top Right)
Rita Leduc is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice investigates the transition from temporary experience to abiding relationship with place. Currently an artist-in-residence at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, her work has most recently been included on the cover of the July 2021 issue of Signal House Edition and shown at Mount Saint Mary College (NY), Bethany Arts Community (NY), Whitesbog Historic Village (NJ), Project 59 (Governors Island, NYC), RAW (Miami, FL), and Ortega y Gasset Projects (NYC). Other publications include unpsychology, Artis Natura, A+E Collective, and 100days100women. She has received support from NYFA, the Jerome Foundation, Atlas Obscura, Oika, Broto, Wells College, and Rutgers University, among others. Leduc received her MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and BA from the University of Pennsylvania. She currently teaches at William Paterson University, Ramapo College, Rutgers University, and Caldwell University. Additionally, she is creator and director of GROUNDWORK, an interdisciplinary creative development retreat.
Rich Blundell (Center Right)
Dr. Rich Blundell is an ecologist working at the confluence of art, science, nature and culture. His research examines how transformation happens across the scales of person, place and planet. As a cultural communicator, Rich tells a scientific story of the universe that includes art and human creativity as natural phenomena.
Lindsey Rustad (Bottom Right)
Dr. Linsdey Rustad is Forest Service Team Lead for the USDA Forest Service Her overall research interests are to investigate the impacts of anthropogenic disturbances on forested ecosystems of Northeastern North America, with an emphasis on acidic deposition and climate change. More specifically, she is interested in synthesis of existing data and efforts to increase communication and collaboration amongst regional, national and international global change scientists, evaluation of the effects of extreme weather events, such as ice storms and droughts, on forests of the northeastern United States, development and applications of advanced environmental systems, and the integration of art and science to better understand pattern and process in large ecological data sets and share this information with a broader audience.
Rich Blundell, producer:
Talking about the Ecology Extended Project
Insofar as it matters, and I believe it truly does, I started out in geology and biology simply because I love being in nature. To make a long story short, after a series of sharp turns in my academic career, I am now chumming around with artists.
The basic concept of Ecology Extended is to extend ecological dynamics into culture through art as a way of realigning culture with nature – or as Robin Wall Kimmererer might say it – healing.
I believe Rita’s artistic process of spending contemplative, open, analytical and creative time in nature is actually an ecological act and a practice. As an ecologist who is concerned broadly about relationships, I also see it as a model for how people can cultivate a more meaningful personal relationship with nature. In other words, I see it as an opportunity for a new kind of extended niche construction.
I see my role in this project as a facilitator and advisor for the artist, but mostly I want to serve as an advocate and communicator of inspired art that’s grounded in rigorous science.
Finally, the outcome of this project as far as I’m concerned, is not the generation of new knowledge, that’s the job of science. Nor is it about a new aesthetic breakthrough, that’s the job of art.
The outcome that I care about is cultural impact. I want this project to give people new opportunities to fall in love with nature and then let that love do its work in the world.
Broto: Art-Climate-Science has commissioned two climate change collaboration projects as the first tests of its unique Collaboration Blueprint. Broto’s Collaboration Blueprint calls for three collaborators: Science, Art and a bridging/synthesis partner we are calling a Producer. Ecology Extended is a partnership with Oika
Our August 2021 Conversations with Ecology Extended collaborators Rich Blundell and Rita Leduc. Hosted by Ian Edwards.