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Saturday, March 28 • 10:30am - 12:00pm
Session 2 Panel Stream: Place Issues and Art-Science Interactions: Tree Mortality and Big Copper in the American Southwest

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Session 2 Panel Stream: Place Issues and Art-Science Interactions: Tree Mortality and Big Copper in the American Southwest 

Ellen McMahon, Beth Weinstein, David Breshears, Jesse Chehak and Karen Zimmermann: "On Tree Mortality Through the Lens of Art and Science"
The Southwestern United States has lost more than 20% of its conifer forests during the last decade. Scientists based at the University of Arizona are working to understand the exact mechanisms of this tree mortality so they can better predict how fast and far-reaching die-offs will be in coming years. Research indicates that the combination of drought and beetle infestation, which trees were able to survive in the past, is now becoming fatal given the addition of a third factor — global warming.

Creating the necessary change in public attitudes to motivate adaptation to climate change requires a well-considered combination of artistic and scientific means. The Southwestern United States is predicted to be hit harder and sooner by the effects of climate change than almost any other heavily populated region in the world. In this threat lies the opportunity to demonstrate how the arts and sciences can work together to spur public debate and understanding and inspire the civic action needed to face the challenges. The Southwest will be a test case and and an example for other similarly threatened regions of the world. Aware of art and design as potent means of changing the way people see and feel about the natural world, this group of artists, designers and scientists is collaborating in order to raise public awareness and catalyze action.

The panel highlights diverse forms of research, representation and expression characteristic of science, art and design as they work in concert to communicate the effect of climate change—in this particular case, forest die-off. The panel gathers five people: the lead scientist studying conifer collapse in the Southwest, the designer of the scientist’s information graphics, the artist of a body of work catalysed by a personal experience of forest die-off and the artist-architect team of the installation Prone to Collapse (on view in the ASU Night Gallery). The presentations will explore how meaning changes and accumulates as the same content moves from one disciplinary form to another, providing insights into the roles of these disciplines in helping us meet the environmental challenges that lie ahead.

Kimi Eisele and Josh Schachter: "Arizona Artists to Respond to Big Copper" 
This panel brings together artists, conservationists, and indigenous leaders to discuss how the arts can address critical environmental and resource extraction issues in creative ways and through innovative partnerships. The proposed Rosemont Copper mine in Southern Arizona would permanently disturb over 3,700 acres of public land, including habitat for nine endangered and threatened species (including the only jaguar living in the U.S.) and key cultural heritage sites for the Tohono O’odom, and severely impact Tucson and critical water resources in the region. Speakers will highlight a series of arts-based projects, which aimed to increase awareness of and generate dialogue about what could be lost. Projects include a photography exhibit: Lens on the Land - Rosemont: What’s at Stake?, showcasing 50 images by over 30 different local and regional photographers, biologists and community members in collaboration with Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, Sonoran Institute, and other key partners; and Rosemont Ours: A Field Guide, a dance film produced by New ARTiculations Dance Theatre with visual artist Ben Johnson, celebrating the plant and animal species of the threatened region. Additional artistic efforts include drawings and paintings and writings by poets. Key partners in the effort were the Sonoran Institute and Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, two conservation organizations working to oppose the mine who have demonstrated a commitment to working with artists to increase public dialogue and awareness. 

Panelists include lead artists Kimi Eisele and Josh Schachter; Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O’odham leader; and Brian Powell, a wildlife biologist working to monitor species in the area and cocoordinator of Lens on the Land. Panelists will discuss the challenges and benefits of building partnerships, the power of leveraging partnerships to extend the project’s reach, and the difference between the arts as an advocacy strategy and the arts as a general awareness-raising tool.


Arthur Sabatini

Arthur J. Sabatini is an Associate Professor of Performance Studies in the Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance Department at Arizona State University. Dr. Sabatini holds a PhD from the Department of Performance Studies, New York University. His areas of specialization include... Read More →


David Breshears

David D. Breshears is a Professor of Natural Resources in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona; he also has a joint appointment with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. His research focuses on the ecohydrology of dryland... Read More →

Jesse Chehak

Jesse Chehak maintains a studio practice in photography, video and installation. In 2005, he joined M.A.P. and began executing editorial features and print campaigns in the U.S. and Europe. His photographs have been published in The New York Times, GQ, Vanity Fair, ID, People, Newsweek... Read More →

Kimi Eisele

Kimi Eisele is a multidisciplinary artist working in the literary, dance, visual, and participatory arts. Her writing has been published in literary magazines, anthologies, and online news outlets. She has recently completed a novel about America in the post-apocalypse. She has directed... Read More →

Ellen McMahon

Ellen McMahon works as an artist, designer, writer, educator and project director to bridge the gaps between art, design and environmental issues. In 2007, she received a Fulbright Scholar’s Grant to work with the Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico... Read More →

Brian Powell

Brian Powell is Tucson-based photographer and a wildlife biologist. He has received national and international photography awards, including a First Place in the Travel Photographer of the Year (2010) competition and Grand Prize in the National Geographic/Nikon Full Story Contest... Read More →

Ofelia Rivas

Ofelia Rivas: Ofelia is the founder of the O’odham VOICE Against the WALL and the O’odham Cultural and Environmental Justice Coalition. She is a representative of the traditional O’odham elders and ceremony leaders, and has represented the O’odham at the World People's Summit... Read More →

Josh Schachter

Josh Schachter is a visual storyteller, social ecologist, teaching artist, and cultural organizer who has collaborated with organizations throughout the US and around the globe to photographically document critical social and environmental issues, from food security to urban revitalization... Read More →

Beth Weinstein

Beth Weinstein is an architect whose scholarship and design practice focus on intersections between architectural and choreographic and other performance practices, ranging from the scale of the drawing board to scenographic environments, theater architecture, urban space and landscapes... Read More →

Karen Zimmermann

Karen Zimmermann is a Professor in the Visual Communications, Graphic Design and Illustration Division at the University of Arizona. Her practice includes activities in writing, graphic design (including information graphics), and art. Her writing has been published in The Education... Read More →

Saturday March 28, 2015 10:30am - 12:00pm MST
Stauffer B125 950 S. Forest Mall Tempe, AZ 85281

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