Earth Day Talk with Eco-Artist Miwa Mayatrek

Arts & Culture

SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY APR 21, 2020

Even though our public programs celebrating Earth Day are not all happening as planned, we wanted to share an inside look into the work of artist Miwa Matreyek.  From her studio in Los Angeles, Miwa has sent us an abbreviated artist talk that peels back some layers of her process and creative trajectory with a sneak peak into her piece Infinitely Yours, which will hopefully grace the stage of the Historic Asolo Theater soon.

Earth Day is celebrated internationally on April 22nd as a gesture of global appreciation for the life supporting systems of planet Earth and as a flag post that draws attention to urgent environmental and climate issues. It punctuates the dynamic and responsive year-round work of activists, scholars, tribal and indigenous communities, industry leaders and government entities, among others, whose efforts and thought are dedicated to creating and preserving sustainable ecological, social and economic systems for our planet.

Historically, artists have been an important part of the environmental movement, and the overlapping climate movement has inspired a new wave of socially engaged performance across a spectrum of disciplines. As part of the 2019-2020 Art of Performance season, The Ringling proudly programmed a series of events and activities that focused on artists, ecology, and climate change:

  • The three-day Arts and Ecology Incubator led by playwright Chantal Bilodeau in November 2019 immersed participants in a workshop environment to explore creative responses to environmental concerns in dialogue with local experts. 
  • On April 10 & 11, Miwa Matreyek was to have presented two of her emotionally provocative and visually mesmerizing shadow puppet and animation works live in the Historic Asolo Theater.  The two companion pieces, This World Made Itself and Infinitely Yours create mythical worlds of beauty and catastrophe in response to relationships between the human and non-human.
  • For Earth Day 2020, we had planned to present the gorgeous and resilient Artichoke Dance in the museum Courtyard, provide environmental education activities for students, and host a panel with Artichoke’s Artistic Director Lynn Neuman and local experts on ecology and climate. 

These events and artistic voices invite audiences and participants to engage with issues of complex science, environmental justice, public policy and personal decision making in ways that allow for sharing, authentic expression and emotional connection.  They also have refreshing, playful and courageous perspectives on using art as a platform for awakening perception around often slow moving or invisible problems.  This kind of artistic programming also shines light on The Ringling’s grounds and gardens programs, which have a deep commitment to environmental stewardship and the unique landscape—both built and natural—that the museum occupies.

The nonfiction work Silent Spring by eco-feminist icon Rachel Carson is often credited for galvanizing energy behind the environmental movement, which gave way in 1970 to the naming of this commemorative day in the United States.  This year, Earth Day turns 50 in a global pandemic moment when implications of unseen environmental health concerns are on everybody’s mind.  We are experiencing a different kind of silent spring in 2020:  weirdly suspended in a forced pause and protracted anxiousness about what’s next, most of us gaze, perplexed, at a still world outside our homes.  In contrast to Carson’s foreboding silence of 1962, which felt eerily deadened for lack of birdsong, ours is a quieting of human noise.  The urban hum, traffic jig saws, construction grind and jet engines have largely halted.  Birds—in Sarasota at least—seem to be emboldened, instead, as woodpecker, heron, peacock, cardinals and jays dominate flight patterns across town, giving us high-spirited rush hour chatter. 

Click to watch now.

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