Don Hankins, Plains Miwok, Burn carried out among cultural practitioners working to train agency fire crews in our home territory, October 2013

Don Hankins, Plains Miwok, Burn carried out among cultural practitioners working to train agency fire crews in our home territory, October 2013. Photo: Don Hankins

Talks & Panels

Water, Fire, Earth, Air

MFA presents a panel discussion with four artists, each focusing on one of the four elements, who discuss their investigations into various causes and effects of climate change.

Water, Fire, Earth, Air invites artists who investigate the impacts of global climate change on the elements essential to life. The panel—featuring Eve Mosher, Don Hankins, Ranu Mukherjee, and Rosten Woo—is presented in conjunction with MFA’s fall 2018 exhibition, No Time, which explores human relationships to the natural world in the past, present, and future.

ABOUT THE PANELISTS

Eve Mosher’s work is focused on the water that surrounds us, particularly in urban areas. Water is a critical feature of our future with climate chaos. In her series HighWaterLine, Mosheruses bold visuals to publicly demarcate areas that will be flooded or underwater due to accelerated climate change. In Liquid City (2016-present), she created an interdisciplinary floating think-tank from which to stage creative interventions on urban waterways. Mosher is the co-founder of Works on Water, which supports artists working on, in, and with the water.

Fire is an integral process in many global ecosystems and a sacred life force recognized by many Indigenous groups. As modern society grapples with the risks of fire and environmental change, Indigenous knowledge can shed light on the fact that this “new normal” is not so new. Don Hankins, Plains Miwok, explores the relationship between ecology, culture, law, and lore to temper our understanding of fire by drawing upon local California Indian and Australian Indigenous fire traditions and knowledge. By working together to rekindle fire, we can create a more resilient landscape while supporting a culture of fire.

Ranu Mukherjee presents three recent projects, under the sign of earth, that weave together historical, cultural, and ecological implications of migration. One is her large-scale installation A Bright Stage, currently on view at the de Young Museum, which considers the banyan tree from both formal and conceptual perspectives. Also known as the “strangler fig,” the banyan roots downwards from multiple points, sometimes killing its host in the process. Here it is used as a metaphor for colonialism coming full circle.

Rosten Woo discusses Common Sensing & Mutual Air, artworks developed through the Exploratorium’s Artist in Residence program. Mutual Air is a public sculpture connecting residents of Oakland to our most ubiquitous yet invisible public commons: the air. Mutual Air is comprised of thirty specially-designed bells which generate a soundscape that reflects and responds to the changing composition of our local and global atmosphere. By sonifying air quality fluctuations, the artwork engages the public in an experiential understanding of climate science and how aspects of our atmosphere reflect socioeconomic differences and disparities.

Moderator Heidi Quante is an artist and the founder of Creative Catalysts, an organization that brings together experts from diverse disciplines to devise innovative ways to raise awareness, inspire dialogue, and spark action on pressing social and environmental issues.