In May, 2018, the Institute of the Arts and Sciences is launching a major art and science project by Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Garden.
Newton Harrison and Helen Mayer Harrison, internationally renowned eco-artists and UC Santa Cruz emeritus faculty, are creating a site-specific environmental art installation in the three geodesic domes and the surrounding garden at the Arboretum. Called Future Garden for the Central Coast of California, the installation transforms the newly refurbished domes at the Arboretum from relics of the past, steeped in 1970s era charm, into carriers of the future in response to the crisis of climate change.
The Harrisons have worked with scientists at UC Santa Cruz and botanists at the Arboretum, along with other artists, scientists, and visionaries, to create trial gardens within the domes in which native plant species are subjected to the temperatures and water conditions that scientists see for the region in the near future. The aim is to determine which plants are best able to thrive as the region warms and to propagate these species to create the scaffolding for more rapid regeneration of the local ecosystem as climates shift. As the Harrisons explain, the future for the rapidly warming planet lies in finding durable plant species that together create ecosystems that can continue to live and flourish as temperature increases.
The geodesic domes of the Arboretum provide the perfect setting for imagining a future in the face of climate change. With their new gleaming white coverings, the domes seem to have arrived here from outer space—or at least from a science fiction novel—to bring warnings about the perils of inaction as the world warms. Not just bearers of bad tiding, the fantastical domes are models for how, as Newton Harrison says, “people can take responsibility for a deeply stressed planet.”
Future Garden for the Central Coast of California at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum will open May 18, 2018. Future Garden is sponsored by the Nion McEvoy Family Trust of the San Francisco Community Foundation, the Metabolic Studio, Katherine Rose, Rowland and Pat Rebele, and annual donors to the Institute of the Arts and Sciences.
About the Artists:
Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison have collaborated as an art making team since the late 1960s, working with biologists, ecologists, architects, urban planners and other artists to propose sustainable solutions to ecological challenges and the crisis posed by climate change. Their projects have been shown in major exhibitions, museums, art festivals, and galleries around the world. Prestel Press published The Time of the Force Majeure, surveying the Harrisons' forty-five year career in ecological art in 2016.
In 2010, the artists founded the Center for the Study of the Force Majeure at UC Santa Cruz to pursue strategies that blend art and science to respond creatively and at vast scale to global warming and climate change. The Center for the Study of the Force Majeure brings together artists and scientists to design ecosystem-adaptation projects in critical regions around the world to respond to climate change.
About the Presenting Institutions:
Institute of the Arts and Sciences is an interdisciplinary exhibition and event forum in the Arts Division of the University of California, Santa Cruz. The IAS's mission is to harness the creative power of the arts and the sciences to explore big questions and critical issues of our time. It contributes to the cultural life of UC Santa Cruz and features the work of nationally renowned artists and groundbreaking scientists and scholars. The IAS offers a range of public programs, sponsors residencies, and curates and organizes an ambitious exhibition program.
Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Garden
The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum is a display, research, and teaching facility committed to plant conservation, serving both the campus and the public. Its rich and diverse collection contains representatives of more than 300 plant families and provides students and visitors with a broad survey of the plant kingdom. Facilities for growing plants offer students and research faculty opportunities to experiment with living plants. The Arboretum maintains collections of rare and threatened plants of unusual scientific interest. The Gardens provide the community with a refuge of tranquility.