Posts Tagged ‘Environment’


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: 

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

Also see:  Evolution of Life Frames: past, present, future on Venice Biennale Website


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.

SF Rec and Park’s Partnership With Bonnie Ora Sherk and A Living Library Receive International Acclaim

SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department is proud to announce that its long-time partner, Bonnie Ora Sherk, Founder and Director of A Living Library (A.L.L.) and creator of the prototype, Living Library Nature Walk which links parks, schools, public housing, streets, and other open spaces leading to the currently hidden Islais Creek, is being featured in this year’s Venice Biennale. The international art exhibition in Venice, Italy, began this week and will continue through November. The Living Library Nature Walk will be exhibited as part of Bonnie Ora Sherk’s installation - Evolution of Life Frames: past, present, future.   Bonnie Ora Sherk is a long-time San Francisco and NYC-based artist, landscape architect, educator, and the Founder and Director of Life Frames, Inc., the non-profit sponsor of A Living Library. Her two part installation also features Crossroads Community (the farm), the pioneering, urban agriculture, multi-arts, environmental education, collaborative artwork that resulted in Potrero del Sol Park, incorporated the Chavez/101 Freeway Interchange, and was also one of the first Alternative Art Spaces in the United States. Sherk was the Founding Director and President of Crossroads Community (the farm) from 1974-1980 and made the original drawings for the Park, which will also be exhibited as part of her installation.   SF Rec and Park’s partnership with A Living Library is part of an overall effort to raise awareness of the importance of green space and to encourage community stewardship of neighborhood parks. A Living Library is a powerful and successful prototype for connecting communities in the Islais Creek Watershed, the largest in San Francisco, and aims to expand throughout the eleven neighborhoods of the Watershed, which include: Noe Valley, Mission, Bernal Heights, Potrero Hill, Bayview, Portola, Crocker-Amazon, Excelsior, OMI, Sunnyside, Glen Park - and to also transform its two neglected and flooding freeway interchanges - Chavez/101 and Alemany/101 into Northern and Southern Gateways to the Watershed. A.L.L. also provides multiple opportunities within these resilient landscapes for community and school hands-on education about watersheds and natural systems, flood mitigation, climate change, California native species, environmental justice, green skills job training, ecological transformation, all while creating a sense of place and wonder in the City’s open spaces.   “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 habitat restoration and so much more,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec and Park General Manager. “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.”   The Venice Biennale has been, for over 120 years, one of the most prestigious arts and cultural institutions in the world. Established in 1895, the Biennale has an attendance today of over 500,000 visitors at the Art Exhibition. The history of the Venice Biennale dates back to 1895, when the first International Art Exhibition was organized. In the 1930s new festivals were born: Music, Cinema, and Theatre (the Venice Film Festival in 1932 was the first film festival in history). In 1980 the first International Architecture Exhibition took place, and in 1999, Dance made its debut at the Venice Biennale.   Bonnie Ora Sherk says, “It is a wonderful honor and opportunity to have my work recognized in this significant international art venue. A Living Library, which links local biological, cultural, and technological systems and resources, and results in place-based, ecological transformation of communities and schools with integrated community programs, is actually a planetary genre. A.L.L. is both local and global in its reach, and is meant to be created in diverse communities of the world, interconnected through Green-Powered Digital Gateways, so we can share commonalities and diversities of cultures and ecologies - near and far. A Living Library is Cultivating the Human and Ecological Garden.”   Since 2002, SF Rec and Park has been in partnership with Bonnie and A Living Library helping to coordinate the Bernal Heights Living Library Nature Walk. The goal of A Living Library Nature Walk is to connect people and places in sustainable, ecological environments, and call attention to the importance of our Islais Creek Watershed, California Native Trees and Understory Plants, diverse wildlife species, and opportunities for ecological transformation of our city.       This summer, STEAM + Literacy With A Living Library, a hands-on Stewardship Camp for children in 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grades will be held in July in the Living Library Nature Walk based at St. Mary’s Park and Rec Center. For more information about the Summer Camp and to enroll, please contact: For more information about A Living Library, please visit: or     Please email for additional photos or Bonnie Ora Sherk’s contact information.
Joey Kahn
Media Relations and Policy Manager
San Francisco Recreation and Park Department | City & County of San Francisco
McLaren Lodge in Golden Gate Park | 501 Stanyan Street | San Francisco, CA | 94117
(415) 831  2741 |
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Arte y Cultiva/Art & Cultivation In Bernal Heights Living Library & Think Park At Junipero Serra Early Education School

The Living Library & Think Park at Junipero Serra Early Education School has been transformed this Fall by students, teachers and volunteers working hard to bring life and beauty to the Lower Garden. From Kindergarteners to Fifth Graders, over a hundred students have spent weeks in the Garden, pulling weeds, watering thirsty perennials, creating pathways and building a worm compost to feed the Garden! For some time now, this Living Library & Think Park Garden was needing some TLC, and starting in September it received some enthusiastic helping hands! Bean trellises were built, signs in both Spanish and English were made, and a beautiful mural depicting the relationship between humans and other forms of nature was painted on the stairwell of the Lower Garden.

A fantastic volunteer, Salvador from Chile, graced us with his construction skills and fixed many structures in the Garden. He helped to rebuild garden beds and lent his hand to bringing color and art into the environment ! Thank you, Salvador for all of your hard work!

bedprep-2Growing spaces were rebuilt, soil amended and cultivated with seeds.

plantingbrassicas-34th and 5th Graders planting Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower and Kale.

beantrellis-2Ms. Monica’s and Ms. P’s Kindergarten Classes planted the beans that quickly climbed up the trellis that the older students helped to erect.

searchingforworms-2-2 searchingforworms2-2-2

Students learned all about worms in Ms. Kristin’s and Ms. Alex’s classes and then went on a scavenger hunt in the Living Library Garden looking for worms, leaves, grass and twigs to add to the worm compost they built.

bilingualsigns-2bilingualsigns2-2 The majority of students at J.Serra are native Spanish speakers, so we wanted to make their Living Library Garden a bi-lingual space. Beautiful images and scientific terms surround the outdoor classroom

  The Lower Garden at Junipero Serra is in bloom and students truly love spending time there. Their Living Library & Think Park is a year-round sanctuary for not only children, but for our wonderful pollinators like hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. The amount of imagination, smiles and laughs that are growing in this ecological and happy environment is enough to bring the roses to bloom and seeds to germinate. The young gardeners of Bernal Heights and the Mission District are busily transforming their Living Library & Think Park Garden into a magical space for humans and other forms of nature, while learning to plant seeds of kindness everywhere they go.   Written by Alexandra Grubb

A.L.L. GREEN FUTURES Paid Internship for Middle & High School Students !!

DCYFfall16ALLGreenFuturesFlyer-page-001 DCYF Fall 2016 Green Futures Application Form For more information contact : Cecilia Frisardi 781-591-9267
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