Desert ArtLAB: Ecologies of Resistance
Desert ArtLAB is an interdisciplinary art collaborative, established by museum curator and educator April Bojorquez (Chicana/Rarámuri) and artist and educator Matthew Garcia (Chicano). The collaborative reconceptualizes desert/dryland ecologies not as post-apocalyptic growth of wasteland, but as an ecological opportunity. The exhibition Ecologies of Resistance illustrates the artistic process of the collaborative’s site-specific ecological installation in the high desert of Southern, CO, through the use of artifacts, archival materials, and botanical samples. The collaborative is transforming a plot of blighted land into a thriving dryland ecosystem that also serves as an edible indigenous landscape. Informed by social sculpture, the collaborative believes artists have the ability to altruistically transform and shape their environments and society. Regrowing indigenous ecologies in community space allows for the revitalization of ecological practice and a reimagining of an indigenous dryland cosmology and aesthetic.
April Bojorquez has worked in the museum field nationally and internationally as an educator, curator, and researcher. Bojorquez is currently faculty of American Ethnic Studies and assistant curator at the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum at Kansas State University. She is fellow of the Smithsonian Institution’s Latino Museum Studies Program and a former curator of art at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Bojorquez works within the intersection of art and anthropology. Influenced by participatory practices and social sculpture, Bojorquez employs diverse strategies to produce immersive and interactive environments exploring place, identity and museum practices.
Matt Garcia’s artistic practice investigates ecology, its relationship to knowledge systems and how media can connect communities to a reclaiming or re-imagining of lost epistemology. Garcia is currently an assistant professor of Digital and Experimental Media in the Department of Art at Kansas State University. Garcia’s work has been presented nationally and internationally at venues such as: Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (Paris, France), The International Symposium on Electronic Art (2012, 2015), Balance-Unbalance Festival (Noose, Australia), and HASTAC (Lima, Peru).