Archive for the ‘Art, Landscape Architecture, & Systemic Design’ Category

Nov21

Bonnie Ora Sherk and A Living Library Represented at Open Table (Tavola Aperta) in Venice Biennale 2017

Bonnie Ora at Tavola Aperta, Venice Biennale

As part of the 57th edition of The Venice Biennale, curated by Christine Macel, Chief Curator of the Pompidou Center in Paris, Bonnie Ora Sherk, along with Marie Voignier, another artist featured in this year’s Biennale, were interviewed by Maria Pesavento, at the Open Table (Tavola Aperta) on October 07, 2017 at the Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy.

Bonnie Ora at Tavola Aperta

Bonnie Ora discussed her work and installation in the Arsenale, in the Pavillion of the Earth in La Biennale, called, Evolution of Life Frames: past, present, future with the visitors, over a casual lunch at the Tavola Aperta.

Link to full video discussion on La Biennale Website:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3w7wF0CFnKA&t=300s 

Excerpts from her talk:

  • The installation - Evolution of Life Frames: past, present, future:
View of Bonnie Ora's installation called 'Evolution of Life Frames: past, present, future' in the Arsenale in La Biennale

Bonnie Ora explained two major works exhibited at La Biennale — Crossroads Community (the farm) and A Living Library. Crossroads Community (the farm), a pioneering artwork, involved development of an urban farm and art center that incorporated a major freeway interchange in San Francisco, beginning in 1974.

Giving an overview about A Living Library, she elaborated:

“A Living Library is a planetary genre. I work with place-based ecological transformation of communities and schools, and each unique intervention, or each Branch Living Library & Think Park, is place-based, linking the local resources of the community — human, ecological, economic, historic, technological, and aesthetic. When we look at those assets in each community through the lens of time: past, present and future, no matter where we are, we find incredible richness.  I work with the community to develop a Master Plan for transformation that incorporates the local resources. The processes of creating a Master Plan with the community is also a learning program for the community. The work has to do with the transformation of places that interlinks with systemically integrated hands-on programs and learning opportunities for all ages.”

Venice Biennale 2017

In her installation on A Living Library, three Branch Living Library & Think Parks are shown in addition to an Overview Section: the OMI/Excelsior Living Library & Think Park (San Francisco), the Bernal Heights Living Library Nature Walk (San Francisco), and the Roosevelt Island Living Library & Think Park (New York City).

“The big idea is to develop Branch Living Library & Think Parks in diverse parts of the world - locally and globally - and to link them through Green-Powered Digital Gateways, multi-functional, or multi-Funcshuional sculptural elements in the landscape that allow for bringing water forth from the earth as may be needed, showcasing local resources and processes of communities through multimedia archives, and also allowing for live interactive broadcast between places.”

Venice Biennale 2017
  • About her early work: Bonnie Ora called her early work Environmental Performance Sculpture —using a found or created environment, and creating a performance in the place systemically, which then integrated all elements creating a whole experience”.  As a pioneering conceptual artist in the 1970s, some of her notable performance pieces include:  Sitting Still Series, Portable Parks 1-111, and Public Lunch.

Discussing her work with live animals in Portable Parks 1-111, Public Lunch, and Crossroads Community (the farm), she emphasized:  “I wanted to create opportunities for people to understand the native intelligences of different species of animals, and to get over the human presumption that we are the center of the universe.”

  • Goal of her work: “My work now really lives in the community, more than in art institutions,” Bonnie Ora said. “The goal of the work is actually to educate people about ecosystems, natural system, interconnected systems; particularly young people and to make environments and processes more ecological.” She further mentioned working with thousands of PreK-12 students in public schools, educating them through hands-on learning, involving them in the ecological transformation of their local places, and empowering them through real-world experience. 
  Venice Biennale 2017

Elaborating on the goals of A Living Library and Life Frames, Inc. the non-profit sponsor of A.L.L. that she founded and directs, Bonnie Ora continued to say:

“A Living Library provides a framework for understanding linked systems — biological, cultural, and technological – It is time for us to begin working together and thinking this way.  The work is systemic, ecological design and it has to do with the transformation of places, and then transformation of people in the places. It is time for us to evolve as human creatures and understand how we all are interconnected, with each other and other species.”

  • Documentation of the work: Replying to a question regarding documentation of her work, Bonnie Ora said, “I take lots of pictures all the time, because it is all process. Everything is process and it is changing every minute, and so much is going on. Also, the students take pictures and other people take pictures. This work is evolutionary, and I am envisioning the multi-media digital archives that will incorporate these images that show processes and resources over time, on the Green-Powered Digital Gateways.  We want to hold on to this history and content, and celebrate it.”

In answering this question, she referred to the work underway now in the Rear Yard of James Denman Middle School in San Francisco, and its transformation from a barren concrete expanse to a series of California Native Learning Zones filled with trees and understory plants, and she explained how the documentation is important to really see and understand the work over time.

  • Replying to a question about her biggest challenges: “I swim a lot because I find it is important to swim around the challenges. The biggest challenges are usually the adults who don’t understand or value the work. Related to that may be the lack of money, however, if you do something that is really good and powerful, it is magnetic, and everything comes to you. I actually have a lot of faith in the Universe. I believe that things happen as they should happen. So, I don’t get really worried about a lot of the details, and I don’t take it personally.”

To watch the full conversation at Tavola Aperta in La Biennale 2017, please go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3w7wF0CFnKA&t=300s

Also see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIXkaySpH90  Evolution of Life Frames: past, present, future on Venice Biennale Website

Sep08

Bonnie Ora Sherk and A Living Library Receive International Recognition at Venice Biennale 2017

Venice Biennale 2017

Bonnie Ora Sherk and A Living Library (A.L.L.) have been recognized and featured in one of the most prestigious contemporary art exhibitions in the world, The Venice Biennale 2017. The 57th edition of La Biennale, also known as the Olympics of the Art World, opened on May 10, 2017 and will continue through November 26, with an estimated attendance of more than 500,000 visitors. A Living Library is exhibited as a part of Bonnie Ora Sherk’s installation Evolution of Life Frames: past, present, future, in the Arsenale in the Pavilion of the Earth, dedicated to the environment, ecological, and communitarianism movements one of the nine themed sections of the exhibition curated by Christine Macel, also Chief Curator of the Pompidou in Paris, France.  Additionally, Bonnie Ora has been invited to return to Venice and La Biennale to give a public talk on her work on October 7, and then will give another public talk and workshop on A Living Library in Zurich, Switzerland on October 12 and 13th at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste / ZHdK.

Her two-part installation in La Biennale also features Crossroads Community (the farm) — a pioneering collaborative artwork involving urban agriculture, multi-arts, and environmental education — that resulted in Potrero del Sol Park, adjacent to the Chavez/ 101 Freeway Interchange. From 1974 to 1980, Sherk was the Founding Director and President of Crossroads Community (the Farm) which has been recognized as one of the first Alternative Art Spaces in the United States. Her installation includes the original drawings she made for the Park. A video featuring her and her way of working has been published on the official website of The Venice Biennale 2017.


As Founder and Director of Life Frames, Inc., the non-profit sponsor of A Living Library, Sherk has been relentlessly working towards raising awareness about the importance of ecological green space with integrated education of natural systems, and encouraging participation from all sectors of community with each local Branch Living LibraryA Living Library, or A.L.L. for short, links local resources and systems - biological, cultural, and technological – resulting in place-based, ecological transformation of communities and schools with integrated community programs.

Partnering with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, Bonnie Ora and Life Frames developed A Living Library Nature Walk,  that has emerged as a powerful and successful prototype for connecting communities in the Islais Creek Watershed, the largest in San Francisco. The project aims to expand and interconnect the eleven neighborhoods of the Watershed that includes Bayview, Bernal Heights, Crocker-Amazon, Mission, Noe Valley, Potrero Hill, Portola, Sunnyside, Excelsior, OMI, and Glen Park through new, narrative resilient landscapes.  Further, it plans to transform the two neglected and flooding freeway interchanges of the Watershed — Chavez/101 and Alemany/101 — into Northern and Southern Gateways to the Watershed.

Since 2002, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department has been collaborating with Bonnie Ora on the Bernal Heights Living Library Nature Walk. Congratulating A.L.L. on its recognition at La Biennale, Phil Ginsburg, General Manager, SF Rec and Park, said, “The Living Library Nature Walk showcases how parks can connect our communities, as well as the innovation of sustainable landscapes that can tackle many environmental challenges including climate change, wild habit restoration and so much more. The fact that this project and the associated SF parks will be on display to receive international recognition, is a testament to Bonnie’s commitment to the coalescence of arts and nature.

While improving the beauty and health of the public realm of each neighborhood, A Living Library also provides multiple learning opportunities for communities and schools with hands-on education about climate change, flood mitigation, watersheds, natural systems, native species, green skills job training, environmental justice, and ecological transformation.

Sherk describes A.L.L. as “Cultivating the Human and Ecological Garden”, a planetary genre meant to be created in diverse communities of the world, and interconnected through Green-Powered Digital Gateways, so that the diversities and commonalities of cultures and ecologies can be shared. She views the recognition of A.L.L. at La Biennale as a wonderful opportunity and honor, and looks forward to extend its reach locally and globally.

References: http://sfrecpark.org/press-release-sf-rec-and-parks-partnership-with-bonnie-ora-sherk-and-a-living-library-receive-international/ Venice Biennale 2017 Venice Biennale 2017 Venice Biennale 2017   Venice Biennale 2017 Venice Biennale 2017 Venice Biennale 2017
Aug05

Bonnie Ora Sherk Presents Lecture On Funcshuional Art In Museum Of Arte Útil’s Escuela at Yerba Buena Center For The Arts

Bonnie Ora Sherk, long-time ecological artist, landscape architect, planner, educator, and Founder & Director of Life Frames, Inc. & A Living Library, presented a lecture on Funcshuional Art as A Living Library at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on August 2 as part of Escuela d'Arte Util (School of Useful Art), part of Tania Bruguera’s Exhibition of the Museum d'Arte Util at YBCA. Her talk was live-streamed on the YBCA's website (see below). Bonnie Ora Sherk's work was also featured on a KQED radio broadcast and appears on the KQED website about the Exhibition and Arte Util.

Presentation Part 1 Presentation Part 2

Below are a few pictures from the presentation.

Bonnie Ora Sherk presents this week’s lecture on “usership” at Escuela de Arte Útil at YBCA. Bonnie Ora Sherk presents this week’s lecture on “usership” at Escuela de Arte Útil at YBCA. Bonnie Ora Sherk presents this week’s lecture on “usership” at Escuela de Arte Útil at YBCA. Bonnie Ora Sherk presents this week’s lecture on “usership” at Escuela de Arte Útil at YBCA.
Jul29

Bonnie Ora Sherk – Public Talk at SFAI 2017 Summer Symposium

Funcshuional Art

Bonnie Ora Sherk, long-time ecological artist, landscape architect, planner, educator, and Founder & Director of Life Frames, Inc. & A Living Librarypresented  her pioneering work at the San Francisco Art Institute 2017 Summer Symposium, I Object !  Self Organization + Political Agency as Aesthetic Practice, in conjunction with Cuban Artist,  Tania Bruguera and others, on Saturday, July 15, at the San Francisco Art Institute.  This Symposium was also in conjunction with Bruguera’s exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Bonnie Ora Sherk will also give another lecture at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on August 2, 6:30 pm as part of  Escuela Arte Util (School of Useful Art), also part of Bruguera’s exhibition, and was additionally featured on a KQED radio broadcast and website about the exhibition and Arte Util.

At the SFAI talk, she presented her local and global, planetary genre, A Living Library, as Funcshuional Art, a term she invented, that marries East and West, North and South, with it’s multiple, practical, systemic processes, creative solutions and strategies that transform the environment, address climate change and flood mitigation among other benefits, while also educating all ages about natural systems and ecological stewardship.

Her presentation at SFAI included examples of Branch Living Library & Think Parks in the Islais Creek Watershed, the largest in San Francisco, including the OMI/Excelsior Living Library & Think Park that is transforming four contiguous SFUSD schools and campuses with integrated learning for PreK-12 students (Leadership High School, San Miguel Early Education School, James Denman Middle School, Balboa High School), and the prototype Bernal Heights Living Library & Think Park Nature Walk that is interconnecting multiple schools, parks, public housing, streets, and other open spaces through development of a new, narrative resilient landscape of California native trees and understory with interpretive signage leading to the currently hidden Islais Creek at the south side of St. Mary’s Park and Highway 280.

This Nature Walk will be expanded throughout the Watershed, to interconnect its eleven neighborhoods:  Noe Valley, Mission, Bernal Heights, Potrero Hill, Portola, Crocker-Amazon, Excelsior, OMI, Sunnyside, Glen Park.  Also proposed is transformation of the currently derelict and flooding, Chavez/101 Freeway and Alemany/101 Freeway Interchanges into Northern & Southern Gateways to the Watershed.

Please come to Yerba Center for the Arts in SF on August 2 at 6:30 pm to learn more about Sherk's work with Funcshuional Art and A Living Library.  This talk is free and open to the public.

Jun04

Site Meeting With CA Natural Resources Agency For Living Library Seneca Avenue Transformation – A BIG Success !!

Principals, City Agencies, Neighbors, Parents, Funders, Friends, ALL:

Your participation was greatly appreciated on June 5, 10-12 noon. We met onsite in front of San Miguel Early Education School, 300 Seneca at 10 am.

Our proposal had been shortlisted by CA Natural Resources Agency for a sizable CA Prop 1 grant to redo the whole Seneca Avenue Sidewalk on the SFUSD property side from San Jose Avenue to Cayuga (shown in green below)  into a series of California Native Learning Zone Rain Gardens that will completely transform and beautify the street, as well as create multiple learning opportunities for students, including learning about the Islais Creek and the Islais Creek Watershed, in which the site is located.

This is still a competitive grant process. The more participants at this meeting was extremely important, so the great attendance was imperative to show the 7 State Representatives that the schools, parents, community, and city agencies actively support this work to be done.  It was a success !!

We had a great event !  Multiple city agencies, our D11 SF Supervisor and staff, school district officials including school principals participated as well as many community residents and groups from the neighborhood.

If awarded, this grant will provide a significant influx of resources for this D11 community and the students.

The sidewalk on Seneca is currently a barren, wide heat island that drains directly into the overflowing sewer in the Cayuga Valley where the Islais Creek still runs underground. Our plan is to create Native Rain Gardens that will allow rain water to percolate into the aquifer as well as be used to water native trees and colorful, understory plants.

The work on Seneca will also complement the work we will be doing in the rear yard of Denman creating CA Native Learning Zones with a CCG Grant from the City. Additionally, the Seneca Avenue Transformation and its parallel Oneida Streetscape Transformation, which began in 1999, by Life Frames, Inc., and all of the Living Library Gardens, including the new one for Denman’s Rear Yard, is envisioned to become part of the expanding A.L.L. Islais Creek Watershed Nature Walk throughout this Watershed, the largest in San Francisco, that interconnects 11 neighborhoods including: Crocker-Amazon, Excelsior, OMI, Sunnyside, Glen Park, Noe Valley, Mission, Bernal Heights, Potrero Hill, Bayview, Portola.

Brief description of proposed project submitted for Prop 1 funds:

OMI/Excelsior Living Library & Think Park Seneca Avenue Streetscape Transformation/Islais Creek Watershed Restoration

Seneca Avenue between San Jose and Cayuga Avenues is currently an extremely long, wide, sterile and barren, concrete and hilly expanse, with very little visual or ecological relief, that delivers great amounts of stormwater during rain events directly into the sewer system. The rain comes down the long hill from San Jose Avenue into the flooding Cayuga Valley, where it overpowers the already overburdened sewers and adds to flood problems under Balboa High School and in many homes in the path of the historic Islais Creek, which still flows here. 

However, this situation actually provides an extraordinary and exceptional mitigation opportunity:

Seneca Avenue borders on four SFUSD schools and affords an extremely significant ecological LID transformation opportunity to create a continuous California Native Drought Tolerant Learning Zone for all ages of the thousands of primarily low-income, culturally and linguistically diverse students – PreK-12 – from all of these schools: Leadership High School, San Miguel Early Education School, James Denman Middle School, and Balboa High School. Our proposed, resulting OMI/Excelsior Living Library Seneca Avenue Streetscape Transformation will function as a series of rain gardens with deep infiltration that will help divert stormwater from the sewer system and use instead for beautiful California native landscapes of trees and colorful understory plants, bringing cheer, delight, and health to this current concrete desert, as well as providing habitat for diverse species of wildlife, and mitigating the heat island effect, which will save energy from nearby school buildings and homes in the area.

Our goal is to plant California Native Drought Tolerant species in mulched, good composted soil, that will divert stormwater away from the sewer while also beautifying the currently bleak environment for students and the whole neighborhood along Seneca Avenue. It will become a California Native Learning Zone for students, who will participate in the planting and maintenance of the trees and understory plants, and also contribute greatly to the further development of the OMI/Excelsior Living Library & Think Park Master Plan developed by Life Frames, Inc., led by Bonnie Ora Sherk in 2000-2001, and currently being implemented in stages in the area.

This Living Library Seneca Avenue Streetscape Transformation and the already existing Living Library Oneida Streetscape Transformation on the eastern parallel side of the Schools' complex completed in 1999, will additionally together become part of the expanded A.L.L. Islais Creek Watershed Nature Walk that is being developed to interconnect multiple schools, parks, public housing, streets, and other open spaces throughout the Islais Creek Watershed, the largest in San Francisco. This Watershed frames and interlinks eleven communities: Crocker-Amazon, Excelsior, OMI, Sunnyside, Glen Park, Noe Valley, Mission, Bernal Heights, Potrero Hill, Bayview, Portola. (Please see attached existing Bernal Heights Living Library Nature Walk Master Plan and Islais Creek Watershed Map showing expanded Nature Walk throughout the Watershed)

Although the total, approximately 9 acre SFUSD complex of the four schools, bordered by San Jose Avenue on the northwest, Cayuga Avenue on the southeast, Oneida Avenue to the east, and Seneca Avenue to the south, has many acres of dry and dusty, non-permeable asphalt and concrete, it also has historical flooding problems from the underground Islais Creek that runs under Balboa High School, as well as from large storm events. This Streetscape Transformation will help to mitigate these issues.

© 2017 Life Frames, Inc. & A Living Library

A Living Library, Life Frame, Think Park, & A.L.L. are registered trademarks

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