Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Third Proposal for Eden Reframed (never posted before according to one reader)

Project title: EDEN REFRAMED: An Eco-art Project for Vashon Island's Burton Adventure Recreation Center (aka BARC)

The proposal is to create a community-based, interactive eco-art project that incorporates an edible garden with ecological restoration, site-specific sculptures, storytelling and community building. If implemented at the current Burton Skate Park site (BARC), this project will bio-remediate damaged soil, demonstrate permaculture design techniques while archiving stories from farmers and gardeners on Vashon Island in attractive, interactive sculptures. It will also provide visitors to the park with a comfortable and compelling place to sit, read, daydream and learn more about the processes of healing soil and growing food. Sculptural aspects of the project will include interactive story hives made from scavenged cedar planks and panels and story benches engraved with community stories about gardening and farming. Informational plaques will provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the ecological processes on view. The deer fence surrounding the gardens will include a gutter system and cistern to catch rainwater. The previously planted edible garden at BARC will be transplanted and relocated to the Eden Reframed site.

This project will begin in March 2011 and be completed in August 2011. The Royalty Research Foundation at the University of Washington has awarded Beverly Naidus (a tenured faculty member at UW Tacoma and Vashon resident) with funding for consultants, materials and equipment. A total of $38,360 will be spent on this project. If the project receives approval from Vashon Parks a campaign to receive in kind donations for the project will be launched.

A team of volunteers has already been assembled to build and maintain the site over the next few years. Liability insurance is being provided by SEEDS.

It is hoped that Eden Reframed will be the first of many such eco-art projects for the BARC site. If Vashon artists get inspired and excited about the benefits of doing community-based, eco-art projects, then the Vashon Park District can become a showcase for this type of work.

The lead artist for this project, Beverly Naidus, has had a long history of doing socially engaged, audience-participatory art. After several decades of creating work for museums, galleries and alternative art spaces, she has started to work outdoors and to engage more deeply and directly with issues of concern to her community and the future of our planet. This art project merges the desire to reclaim and restore neglected land with the concept of gardens as sacred, healing spaces where many human needs and those of a sustainable ecosystem can be met. It also addresses a significant issue in our community that has global implications: how do we restore ecosystems that have been neglected or abused, and design new ways of living in balance with the natural world. A few pioneers in the international eco-art movement, have been deeply engaged in restoration and remediation projects, but more artists need to get involved with this work, and she wants to be one of them.

Naidus has felt the power that gardens can have on the human psyche since her early childhood, and writes about that in her recent book, Arts for Change: Teaching Outside the Frame. She grew up with parents, former New York City dwellers, for whom gardening was a passion. They grew much of their own produce, and spent nine months of the year engaged with planting, weeding, pruning and harvesting. Her 92 year old mother is still growing tomatoes and squash.

Over the past two decades, Naidus’ involvement with the Institute for Social Ecology and the Vashon organization, SEEDS (, has helped her expand her understanding of the permaculture movement. SEEDS has initiated several projects on Vashon that involve permaculture, including a bioremediation project on private land in the south of the island. Her eco-art project will be done in consultation with their team.

Since moving to Vashon eight years ago, Naidus has been investigating various sites for creating an outdoor installation. She have been in conversation with many local farmers and gardeners about their concerns about the soil and water, and looked at where her project might do the most good.

Eco-art is a term used to describe art that responds to the environmental crisis. The forms that this kind of art can take are various, but most well known are the projects that can be viewed at the Green Museum,, the Ecoart Network (where my work is listed among a list of international artists) Ecoartspace and Women Environmental Art Directory Remediation or restoration art are widely used forms of eco-art. Brownfields, dumps, damaged wetlands, etc. have all been the lucky recipients of art projects that combine healing the soil and water with aesthetic means. Some projects offer the viewers a deeper understanding of the social and industrial history that led to the contamination or neglect of the site.

Eco-art is not a new area of investigation for Naidus. She has taught courses on the latter topic for many years, both at UW Tacoma (where she is an Associate Professor) and the Institute for Social Ecology. Her recently published book, Arts for Change: Teaching Outside the Frame, discusses eco-art at length, and celebrates the burgeoning community-based arts movement. The book argues that the time for socially engaged art practices is now and that such practices can take many forms.

In addition to her work as a teacher of eco-art, Naidus has been a founding participant in an important international online discussion group of eco-artists for over a decade. She have given dozens of lectures on the topic for many conferences in the US and Canada. Most recently she has spoken on eco-art at the internationally-known Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, CA; an eco-art conference in Oslo, Norway, Swarthmore College, the Green Feminisms conference at SUNY New Paltz; for Platform London; and at Manchester Metropolitan University's MIRIAD colloquium in the UK.

Since the early 1980’s Naidus has created art projects that address environmental issues. Some of her well- exhibited works are Canary Notes: The Personal Politics of Environmental Illness (a digital image/text project, 1998) and Brought to You by the Men Who Plan Beyond Tomorrow, a digital photo/text project about climate change (2007). Both projects have been shown internationally. Recently she created and exhibited underGROUND: Artifacts of the Moment, a series of mixed media works created with scavenged materials that address the nuclear and environmental history of Vashon (2009).

In the early nineties Naidus created her first installation with living plants in a contemporary art space in southern California. It was an audience-participatory audio installation entitled REMOTE CONTROL that looked at how our educations inform our relationship to the environment. Designed to look like a classroom, old school desks became planters. Juxtaposed next to those sturdy desks, were fragile ones constructed out of paper, balsa wood, text and dirt. The project was designed to be temporary, so all the living parts of the installation were transplanted when the show was over. Everything else was recycled. All that remains of that project are photographs and a video documenting the installation and audience participation.

Naidus’ experience creating temporal works has been positive on the whole, but she is ready to take on the challenge of making a work that grows and lives beyond the life of an exhibit, a work that will hopefully generate many other art projects on the same site.

The interactivity of this project has been presaged by a career of doing audience-participatory work. Naidus’ installations have collected stories about nuclear nightmares, environmental illness, bigotry, body hate and more. The sharing of those stories creates a collective dialog that can ripple outward in meaningful and often positive ways. Community participation in this project will celebrate the instinctive impulse to plant seeds, tend gardens and harvest, and to heal ourselves and the land with this process.

The artist/consultant for this project, Shahreyar Ataie, is a highly skilled contemporary artist who has widely exhibited his multi-media work in the U.S. and the U.K. He has been developing projects with environmental themes for a number of years. He will document the project with video and help conceptualize and construct the storyhives, fences and benches.

OBJECTIVES: Through art, permaculture design and collaboration with local gardeners, farmers and artists, this project will create a living and learning garden at the BARC site. The project will include sculptural elements such as story hives and benches and hand crafted, raised beds.

Eden Reframed will offer the community a model of soil remediation using mushrooms and plants, to redefine our understanding of the eco-restoration process. It will be an interdisciplinary collaboration that merges story telling, planting and site-specific sculptures. Collaborators will include scientists, gardeners, farmers, environmental activists, students, community members and other artists.

PROCEDURE and Related Concerns

1. Planning will involve meeting with the permaculture design team and Vashon Parks to develop the most appropriate strategies for approaching the site. A timeline will be put in place and calls will be out in the community for more volunteers and in kind donations. A map of the site will be drawn so that everyone knows the parameters of the project.

2. Staking the site and soil testing. If possible, we will locate the project on the bluff overlooking the meadow and stake its perimeter. We will do some baseline soil tests. The garden beds are designed as interlocking arcs with room for two benches and two story hives in the center. An heirloom apple tree will be planted in the center of the garden.

3. Story hives will be built from cedar planks and panels. Two of them will be located in the center of the gardens. Each hive will contain pull out drawers and slots where audience members can place and read stories about their experiences with the aforementioned wonders. The hives will have shelves where jars of seeds can be left and traded with other community members. New stories can be left in those jars as well. Cedar panels will have text burned into the surface and then be treated with linseed oil and beeswax to protect them from the weather. The panels will have a honeycomb motif. The hives will have latches that can be locked when the park is closed.

4. Fallen cedar logs will be identified, split and hauled into the site to be used as story benches. The text will be chosen and burnt into the surfaces, which will be then treated with linseed oil and beeswax.

5. A deer fence will be designed with gutters to channel rainwater into a cistern. Gates will lock at two sides of the garden. The artists can lead workshops where participants weave the fence with yarn, beads, and community visions for the island. DUE TO THE PARKS FACILITIES MANAGER'S CONCERNS WE DID NOT USE CISTERNS AND GUTTERS, BUT RATHER BUILT BRUSH DRAINS TO IRRIGATE THE PLANTS.

6. The edible garden will be transplanted into raised beds (constructed as hugel culture – with rotting wood and branches as one of the layers in the soil, straw, nettle, compost and layers). The area outside the garden will be terraced with native plants that allow for adequate sunlight in the garden. Salal and mulberry bushes are first choices.

7. Interviews will continue to be conducted with Vashon farmers and gardeners. A call will be put out through Vashon All online list, solicitation at the Farmer’s Market and word of mouth. A team of volunteers (including former students) will interview local farmers and gardeners and the gathered stories will be included in the hives. Wooden benches with images and text will be designed to display the stories collected from farmers and gardeners.

8. SEEDS will assume liability for the project once the artists, consultants and volunteers are working on site.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Eden Reframed is Open to the Public

Yes, my posts became infrequent in the past month. So my apologies to any of those fans whose been waiting breathlessly for some news about the project. We really had intentions to be more attentive to our paparazzi.

I will post photos of the ceremony as I receive them, as well as an edited video of the event. Here are some photos taken before the ceremony of volunteer, Annie Petrocci, working tirelessly on the gate, the sunflower explosion, a new bench and the story hive.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Opening Ceremony in two days

We are busily raking the wood mulch, weeding, scraping old paint off the fence posts, and hoping that the story hive will arrive before the opening ceremony on Saturday. I will post recent photos soon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Some working definitions

Folks are coming to this blog not understanding what the intentions of Eden Reframed might be, so I am going to post some definitions that will be engraved on signage at the site.

Ecological art (also known as eco-art) focuses on communities and inter-relationships. These include not only the natural features of a particular site, but also the cultural, political and historical aspects of communities or ecological systems. Eco-art can explore the complex structure of an ecosystem while restoring or remediating what has been damaged by neglect or deliberate human interventions. Eco-art may re-envision, attempt to heal or celebrate aspects of the natural environment that have gone unnoticed. It can model innovative or indigenous ways of stewarding local resources. The work can challenge preconceptions about the natural world, encourage behavioral changes and be audience-participatory. Eco-art is created to communicate, stimulate dialogue and contribute to social transformation.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Beautiful day and turnout last Saturday

The gates were welcomed by a lovely crowd on Saturday. Several guests showed off their talents, weeding and gleaning from the garden, on top of weaving beautiful offerings into the fence. Now we are intensely at work on the story hive, with Shahreyar building the structure and me writing down the stories of farmers and gardeners on cedar panels. We have about 5 weeks to get everything done. Right on time.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Next Event

I almost forgot to post this great photo of the electric truck delivering mulch to the garden.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Behind the Scenes

Shahreyar is building the gates to the garden, and I am transcribing the stories of farmers and gardeners. Then I'll be creating photoshop files so that the stories will be burnt onto 3x4 panels of cedar. It's a slow and steady process now. Not sure that we'll be done before the August 27th deadline, but we're doing our best.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Some photos of the first Weaving Our Dreams into Eden Reframed

Marcia weaving in the first dream.

Melody working with great concentration and commitment. She was with us all day!

Stephen (further down) studying the new landscape.

Kippy, Holly and Kim (the three women) in deep discussion.

Meagen (in turquoise scarf) working the dream in.

Lily (in white fur) guarding the gates.

Zen practice brothers, Bob and Shahreyar, communing with nature.

B & B just being.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Come out this Saturday

Other than preparing for this Saturday's event, Weaving Our Dreams into Eden Reframed, we have been just WAITING....WAITING....WAITING for our fallen cedar logs to be milled at the Forest Stewards. Hopefully the wood will be ready by early July. We need to get the gates built, along with the signage, the benches and the story hive. We have lots of work in front of us. Otherwise, I have started work on another body of work that will be my last show as part of my collective, VALISE (Vashon Artists Linked in Social Engagement). I am curating a show of images that will come from my community on Facebook called Reconstructive Visions of the Future and I am resurrecting or reinvigorating a body of work about nuclear issues. It is a bit challenging to steward all these projects at once, but, hey, I have to squeeze every bit of juice out of these last months of sabbatical.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Planting Seeds, Processing Sadness

In the midst of all the flurry of building our garden beds, I've been processing lots of news, both local and global. It's impossible not to take in what Fukushima means, what violent weather patterns are and what fish washing up on stinking beaches signifies. We mostly choose not to look at or sit with this information since we are needing to get the wash done, or the bills paid, care for our children or commune with our friends. My nephew who just came in for a visit describes the weblinks that he sends on to friends and family as "bummer juice." I think that's a good a name as any. I've begun making work or, I should say, I am returning to the themes of nuclear nightmares, with a more defined focus. After many years of developing and exhibiting work about nightmares about nuclear war (from 1977 until 1991) and then beginning work on NUKED NOTES: Journey of a Free Radical (a series about the causes and cures of thyroid cancer), I am now revisiting this topic to explore a series about radioactive fall-out, nuclear meltdowns, misinformation, disinformation and endless distractions for an exhibit in September. It's work that needs to happen while I continue to plant seeds for EDEN REFRAMED. We are designing the gates and story hives now. And seeds are going to be planted tomorrow and later this week. It's a healing thing to do, when my heart is full of grief for the world, for the children...may those who remain asleep become activists (in whatever short time they have) for the great, great, great grandchildren. It is all we have now, other than momentary joys, such as planting and harvesting.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Phase #3 almost complete

What you see in these photos is a time lapse, going backwards about a week. So the top photo is where we are now - the deer fence skeleton is up, without enhancement through community stories, and without the gates. Thankfully and amazingly every day we've worked outside, the weather has cooperated. Today it's drizzling and Shahreyar and I are working alone in our studios, designing the gates. Shahreyar will do some research by walking through our two local hardware stores, and I've done some research online. We'll come together in the next few days and make some decisions. So far our collaboration has been a real pleasure. A good marriage, as they say. Notice how he handles an auger!

And speaking of marriages, that guy with the baseball cap, who looks a little like an undercover fed (or so said my dear friend, Amy) is my significant other, who is going to celebrate with me, 22 years of companionship through the ups and downs. This Friday is our anniversary. He is kindly watering the food forest.

BTW the first green thing we planted in our garden was the apple tree, a Pink Lady - you can view that beauty on the left here. Oh so symbolic for Eden Reframed. Now we just need to get some of the healing snake energy happening and we'll be all set.

Here's an overview of our process so far:

Phase #1 - Getting site approval (and the hurdles that involved) and drawing up the final proposal

Phase #2 - Harvesting stories and developing community involvement as part of the exhibition Reframing Eden

Phase #3 - Meeting with Permaculture Design Consultants, finding volunteers, building the brush drains, transplanting and developing garden beds, and creating the skeleton of the deer fence

Phase #4 - Finding more stakeholders through an interactive community activity, speaking with VHS students, enhancing and energizing the deer fence and garden with stories, wishes and artifacts

Phase #5 - Designing and building the two gates, benches and story hive(s)

Phase #6 - Eden Reframed Celebration (hopefully late August)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Building the Bundles of Boughs as Bed Barriers

These first shots are of Deston and Shahreyar mixing the topsoil with the sandy fill above the brush drains.

Here are some shots of the cypress boughs that we hauled and bundled into bed barriers.
I'll have some better shots of the boughs in place tomorrow.

More Photos of the week

Here you can see more shots of the completion of the brush drain with the help of the Evergreen students and others. Also you can see the delivery of topsoil, a generous donation from Lewis Roggenbuck.

Finally, a moment to write and post photos

We have made so much progress in so little time that I am a bit breathless. Tomorrow we will install the posts for our deer fence and transplant the edible garden put together last year by permaculture design teacher, Emet Degirmenci. Emet will be present for the gentle process of transplanting blueberry and huckleberry bushes, strawberries, fruit trees and herbs. We hope to have a couple of volunteers to assist us as well.

Shahreyar and I have spent the week collecting boughs of conifers and binding the boughs, needles and all, into bundles. We were donated a cache of Cypress boughs (in the cedar family)from the property of Dana and Katherine. We filled the truck twice, and still need to haul more. These bundles will be used as barriers for the raised beds, and their natural curves will work splendidly with the arcs of our beds. The daily physical work of bundling, sawing, clipping and carrying has been a real test for our aging bodies, but with a massage and some chiropractic work, we are ready for more.
And S and I are having so much fun, gabbing while we work, in the shade outside his studio. We couldn't ask for a better situation in which to do the work.

I look forward to watching the beds grow with new life, as worms and mycellium discover the composting soil, and pollinators gather to enjoy the flowers. I also am excited to see what shapes the fence will create in the field.

We will announce soon a time for the community to gather and weave mementos into the fence.

I am attaching photos of the work crew laying down the bags of dry clay and brush. There are also shots of S on his tractor, Shannon discussing the bioremediation of the soil and students from Evergreen helping with the creation of the brush drain.