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Photo courtesy of Unseen California.

Examining the Environment: The Landscape and Life Project

Our speaker series expands on some of these themes raised by the artists’ work, extending the idea of landscape into abolitionist anti-incarceration projects, gardening and radical politics, and the documentation of endangered and hidden visual and sonic environments.” – Andrew Smith, Indexical Executive Director

At the start of the new year, Indexical, a Santa Cruz-based arts and cultural organization, launched “Landscape & Life.” Supported by a Humanities for All Quick Grant, this project includes a series of visual art exhibitions and lectures that examine environmental concerns through visual art, performance, and public discussion. We caught up with Andrew Smith, the Project Director of the “Landscape & Life” series, to learn more about the guiding questions examined in this project.

Can you tell us more about the inspiration for creating the “Landscape & Life” series?

Outside garden with tress and a blue sky.“Landscape & Life” is inspired by the work of artists who engage with the history of landscapes in art in ways that run counter to the traditional depiction of land as “empty space.” Historically, the tradition of Western European art history has shown expansive landscapes that are separate from living beings, and especially from humans. Our speaker series expands on some of these themes raised by the artists’ work, extending the idea of landscape into abolitionist anti-incarceration projects, gardening and radical politics, and the documentation of endangered and hidden visual and sonic environments.

Who are some artists, writers, and musicians collaborating on this project?

The main exhibition series includes works by Suzy Poling, Paige Emery, Raven Chacon, and Paul Walde. These artists form the anchors that the conversations expand upon, with scholars and artists Anna Friz, Adrian Drummon-Cole, Karolina Karlic, Louise Leong & Tim Young, Aja Bond, Kellee Matsushita-Tseng, Bana Haffar & Patrick Shiroishi, and others.

One of the big questions explored by your project is, how can art reshape our relationship to landscape? Can you tell us more about the new ways for understanding landscape highlighted in this project?

One of the things we hope people take away from this series is that there is a sense of “life” in allA photo of a large blue body of water. aspects of the land that we occupy. Indigenous traditions of knowledge and thought highlight this sense that the land is animated, as does a microbiological view that might look at the bacterial life immanent in the soil.

How can people learn more about the “Landscape & Life” series and other upcoming events at Indexical?

Indexical’s events and exhibitions, including Landscape & Life, are posted online at our website (indexical.org) and on Instagram and Twitter at @anindexofmusic. We’ve also got an email list that goes out regularly to keep people posted about upcoming events. Much of our events are in-person, but the Landscape & Life Speaker Series funded by California Humanities is also live-streamed to our website at indexical.org/stream.

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