Treading Softly: Ecocritical Approaches to Cultural History
Treading Softly: Ecocritical Approaches to Cultural History
How can we foreground the environment in new readings of artworks? And what kinds of curatorial practice might address pressing ecological concerns?
MoMA online
October 01, 2021 | 2:00 pm
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Presented by

The Museum of Modern Art
New York, NY

Event Schedule

Session One: Worldview
2:00–3:30 p.m.

Jessica Horton
Associate professor of art history, University of Delaware

Horton’s work emphasizes the role of Native North American art within a global story of modernity. Her first book, Art for an Undivided Earth: The American Indian Movement Generation (2017), looks at the impact of Indigenous spatial struggles on artists working since the 1970s. Her current project, Earth Diplomacy, Indigenous American Art and Reciprocity, 1953–1973, explores Native ecology and diplomacy through Cold War arts initiatives.

Jake Skeets
Poet and teacher at Diné College in the Navajo Nation, Tsaile, Arizona

Skeets is an acclaimed new poetic voice whose work offers a Dine window on the natural world. His debut collection, Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers (2019), was selected for the 2018 National Poetry Series and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Skeets is also the winner of a 92Y Discovery Prize, a Mellon Projecting All Voices Fellowship, an American Book Award, and a 2020 Whiting Award. For the Study Sessions, he will read an original composition written in response to Sky Hopinka’s I’ll Remember You as You Were, not as What You’ll Become and discuss his poetic approach.

Session Two: Ecosystems
4:00–5:30 p.m.

David Gissen
Professor of Architecture and Urban History, Parsons School of Design and the New School University

Gissen’s research spans architecture, urban, and landscape history, theory, design, and preservation. His book Architecture’s Other Environments (2009) situates contemporary architectural projects within the natural processes of urban landscapes; Manhattan Atmospheres (2014) recounts New York City history through the design of its air. A disabled historian and designer, Gissen has also often addressed the topic of disability and aesthetics in his work, including the exhibition An Archaeology of Disability in the Arsenale at the current Venice Biennale.

J.T. Roane
Assistant professor of African and African American Studies, School of Social Transformation, Arizona State University

Roane co-leads the Black Ecologies initiative at the Institute for Humanities Research at ASU, a multi-pronged project aimed at documenting the ecological vulnerability of Black communities in the US, and providing alternate cultural resources and support. He is currently a 2020-2021 National Endowment for the Humanities/Mellon Foundation Fellow at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library at work on a book project, Dark Agoras: Insurgent Black Social Life and the Politics of Place in Philadelphia.

Ted Steinberg
Adeline Barry Davee Distinguished Professor of History, Case Western Reserve University

Over twenty five years, Steinberg has investigated the intersection of environmental, social, and legal history, writing prize-winning books and essays that position nature as the protagonist in the trajectory of events. His books include American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn (2006); Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History (2002); and Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in America (2000). Gotham Unbound: The Ecological History of Greater New York (2014) examines how ecological changes have made New York City the city it is today.

Image: Sky Hopinka, video still from Kunįkaga Remember Red Banks, Kunįkaga Remembers the Welcoming Song (2014)