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November 15, 2023 - January 28, 2024
Barnes Ogden Art + Design Complex Gallery
Curated by Courtney Taylor
Reception: Friday, January 26, 2024 5-6:30 p.m.
Lecture with Curator Courtney Taylor: Friday, January 26, 2024 | 5:15 p.m.
Finding Grounding features four artists who critically engage our ecologies by making with the natural environment, recognizing its agency and that we are not separate from our environment. Works by Hannah Chalew, Shana M. griffin, Heather Bird Harris, and Renee Royale visualize and materialize the continuum of extraction and enslavement from agrarian plantations to the extraction and emissions of petrochemical plants. Each artist roots their practice and activism in care—care for community and care for our shared ecologies.
Hannah Chalew’s “plasticane paper,” uses bagasse, a byproduct of sugar cane production, and plastic to lay bare the violent continuum of extraction in Louisiana. Her sculptural drawings imagine futures in which we may not survive, a future in which our discarded pipelines and petrochemical infrastructures may animate to hold ground like the root systems of our threatened ecologies.
Shana M. griffin’s photographs and SOIL installation resist erasure. Collected from over fifty-five former plantation sites, the soil acts as a witness, a fugitive ecology and archive that re-signifies these places of dispossession, violence, and control. Collecting on the run, without permission, opens up a liberatory space for griffin while the installation serves as a monument of remembrance.
Heather Bird Harris gathers ground to create earth pigments tied to place. Terra Firma (Pre-Ida) challenges maps that effectively obscure Louisiana’s land loss. Soil used in this painting was collected by ecologist Ashley Booth as part of conservation research the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Grand Chenier (Atakapa-Ishak land).
Renee Royale’s photographs expose and archive sites of environmental and racialized violence along the Mississippi River. Featured photographs were taken at sites of heavy industry and at sites of communities harmed or displaced by racial capitalism. Royale immerses her photographs in locally gathered water and plant matter allowing the environment to actively develop her images over a moon cycle.
Together, the exhibition and programming offer an opening, a way into a conscious relationship with place. They offer grounding in place and grounding in self. The project is meant to bridge the disconnection we feel spiritually and physically from our ecologies. Nature connection and artist-led workshops allowed participants to cultivate grounding—to connect with nature through meditation, reflection, and creative practices led by Lilia Kapsali-Grant, Renee Royale, and Heather Bird Harris. Some works on view were created during these programs. Royale and Harris’ works were on view at two East Baton Rouge Parish Libraries from October 2 to November 9, 2023.
Finding Grounding is curated by Courtney Taylor, Director of Galleries at LSU College of Art & Design. Lilia Kapsali-Grant acted as co-curator for the rotating exhibition and community programming, which was a collaboration between LSU College of Art & Design and East Baton Rouge Parish Libraries with support from the Windgate Foundation.