The First International Conference for Ecological Arts Therapies
"Ecological/Earth-Based Arts Therapies: International and Multi-Cultural Perspectives"
We decided to accompany the conference with this small exhibition, presenting the works of few Russian, American, and British artists, who are activists of the environmental movement, realizing how important the role of the arts in its alliance with ecology and the humanities is for the development of sustainable lifestyles and environmental consciousness.

This small exhibition highlights the ecopoietic nature of human beings, their ability to shape the world in order to fulfill their needs and take care of the environment with an aim to see and create beauty.

Few decades ago, the emergence of land art and environmental art coincided with a surge of interest in environmental protection, which led to the development of ecological policies at the state and public levels. In the half-century that followed, art went through various stages in its relationship with ecology.

The field of environmental art has developed alongside an increasing awareness of ecological matters and the rise of the environmental movement since the 1960s. Once an area of interest for a relatively small group of people, art that addresses environmental issues has in the last five years become part of the artistic mainstream. Art possesses its own means of solving the problems facing the planet. The artist's role is not, however, to provide definitive answers to these problems.

Unlike the scientist, who must follow established scientific methods, the artist is free to question and redefine anything or everything at any stage, to be wide-ranging and open to all possibilities. As a result, artistic projects are able to withstand a far higher level of risk than typical scientific experiments, which often come with expectations of tangible results or even profit for their funders. They can engage local communities and garner broad support in ways that science alone can rarely do. They can offer tools for reflection, discussion, awareness and action that lead to new ways of thinking about and of being in the world. And they can bring about real change – sometimes deliberately, sometimes unintentionally – that has lasting benefit, whether to the few or to the many.
Leonid Tishkov

graduated from the First Moscow Medical Institute. Afret A.M.Sechenov (1979). Exhibited since 1989. The first personal exhibition took place in 1991. Personal exhibitions were held at the National Center for Contemporary Art (NCCA), the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA), Moscow galleries "Krokin", etc., as well as in museums in Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Yaroslavl, USA, Germany, Sweden, Venezuela. His artworks are in the collections of the State Tretyakov Gallery, NCCA, MMOMA, Nasher Museum of Art, NC, USA, Museum of Fine Arts of Northwestern University (Chicago), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Ujazdowski Castle Center for Contemporary Art (Warsaw), Luigi Pecci Center for Contemporary Art (Prato, Italy), etc. He is a winner of the Innovation Prize in Contemporary Art in the Artist of the Year nomination (2017). Participant of the International Biennale of Contemporary Art in Singapore (2008), Ichihara Triennial, Japan (2013, 2017), Setochi Triennial, Japan (2019). He entered the top 20 most influential artists in Russian art in 2017 according to Art-guide.
We are publishing short excerpts from an interview with Leonid Tishkov, the video recording of which is partially presented in "Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice" web-based journal

"In early 2009, I was invited to the Arctic, along with a group of scientists, musicians, artists. I first saw this blessed land, which shocked me not only with its beauty, but also with its metaphysical cosmos. It completely changed my life. When I found out what was happening with the Arctic, it did not make me indifferent. I decided to make an exhibition and tell the world about what I felt, experienced and want to be on Earth, namely, in the Arctic, in terms of environmental issues. Then I combined my artistic experience, as well as the experience of a doctor, and the experience of an environmentalist.
The Arctic is such a part of the Earth's organism, the state of which is reflected in the state of this entire organism. My trip became the basis for the creation of the album, which I conducted while in the Arctic. It is called the "Arctic Diary." One of the first pages of this diary is in which I talk about melting ice in the Arctic.

The Arctic encouraged me to continue my work with environmental issues. My next trip was to Romania at the invitation of environmental organizations. We drove about two thousand kilometers in the Carpathians. I was with my moon. We chose places where there are signs of an impending environmental disaster. The created photographs were then exhibited at the museum. People came and looked at this "beauty" and read the comments. This is one of the ways in which we can raise environmental concerns through art.

As an artist, I pay attention to visual images. I believe that artists play a great role in drawing attention to the problem of the environment and changing the relationship of mankind in issues of ecology."

Beverley A'Court

BSc.Soc.Sci. (Joint hons. Phil. & Psych.), Dip. A.T. After a brief research career in Architectural Psychology, Beverley has been practicing art therapy since 1981, initially employed in acute and long-term psychiatric services, learning disability, special and adult education, then pioneering holistic eco-art therapy via supervision, summer schools, and courses for professionals and students. As a long-term member of the Findhorn Foundation Community, she has contributed to international conferences, festivals and sustainability education programs, and developed many applications of eco-art therapy. She is an advocate for the recognition of the place of poetic language, the body, ecology, and cultural wisdom traditions in art therapy.
We are publishing short excerpts from an interview with Beverley A'Court, previously published in the first issue of "Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice" web-based journal

"As an artist, art therapist, environmental activist, and member of the Findhorn Foundation Community, the practical and even political question was and still is: How can an ecologically inclusive paradigm be applied in art and clinical art therapy practice? I rely on sensitive attention to the systemic interplay between the human being and the more-than-human environment, attuning to present-moment resonances between the authentic, expressive art-making and the activities of nature and wildlife.

The pre-historical, perennial roots of art were very much grounded in human beings' relationship with the environments which they inhabited. All our perception and cognition arise within our embodied existence. From a bio-cultural, evolutionary view, the arts appear to have been effective instruments for attunement and adaptation to the natural environment, such as developing perceptual and cognitive skills in discernment for survival and for establishing socially bonding rituals. Ancient art works are often our only or primary window into understanding our ancestors' lives, societies and beliefs.

The holistic eco-human paradigm informing art and therapy is an alternative rationality with its own internal logic requiring appropriate modes of thinking and practice. Buddhist, pre-Buddhist and Taoist meditative, yogic and Western pre-Christian and Christian contemplative traditions have all informed my understanding and therapeutic approaches. We honor the 'integrity' of eco-art, valuing it as one of many non-verbal-conceptual forms of knowing, emergent from the communion of subjects, in the process of 'making meaning': the inter-subjective space, where the impulses of self-directing life forms meet and communicate."

Diana Sudyka

A Chicago based illustrator. As a child she was the one always looking under logs for snails and bugs, and not much has changed since. Early in her career she created screenprinted posters for musicians, and from there moved into the publishing world by illustrating middle grade and children's picture books. Working mainly in gouache, watercolor, and ink, subject matter and aesthetic choices for her paintings are inspired by a passion for nature and science, as well as a love for various folk-art traditions. When not working, Diana tries to get outside as much as possible with her family and still sometimes volunteers in the Bird Lab at the Chicago Field Museum.
We are publishing short excerpts from an interview with Diana Sudyka, previously published in the second issue of "Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice" web-based journal

"I am still very much an outdoors person, and getting out and connecting to the natural world is critical for my mental well-being. It provides almost all of the inspiration for my personal and commercial work these days. I am also inspired by many traditional folk-art traditions, such as from my Slavic background and American.

My hope is that people will feel my respect and connection to all forms of life. And that connection then will maybe spark a memory of their own connections to the natural world, and encourage them to seek it out more. I want to normalize a less human-centric way of understanding and valuing of the world, if that makes sense.

When I create an image, and I am really just talking about my personal work and not so much the work I do for children's picture books, I am seeking to create something that has both elements of the spiritual and pagan, but also with elements of the specificness of science. In recent years, my images are very much born out of what I see on my outings to our local forest preserves, and where my focus is at that time, for instance: birds, fungi, or these days I am really into native wild plant species and oak trees.

live just north of Chicago in an area of the United States called the Great Lakes and Midwestern region. There was a time in my life when I really wanted to move away, but that window has passed as my roots are deep here. I had to find a way to love this area. That's when I started the long learning process over many years of exploring and educating myself about our regional ecosystems, and native flora and fauna. This led to years of volunteering at the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History in their bird lab, and those experiences helped me to find my voice in my art."

Teagan White

An artist living in Portland, Oregon. They received a BFA in Illustration from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design in 2012 and are a member of the VACVVM illustration collective. Their paintings have been exhibited in dozens of solo and group shows across the United States, and they have worked with Nature Conservancy Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, Pangeaseed Foundation, Patagonia, Mondo, Nike, Target, American Greetings, Penguin Random House, and many other magazines and journals. In addition to their nature-related art, Teagan makes picture books and other products for children under the name Tiny Moth Studios, with six books published to date.
During their time in Minneapolis, Teagan was a volunteer in the Avian Nursery at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota. They are currently a member of the University of Washington's Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) and Oregon Shores' CoastWatch, two citizen science projects dedicated to monitoring ecosystem health and public land use and collecting baseline data to help assess patterns of seabird mortality due to natural and human-induced events.

We are publishing short excerpts from an interview with Teagan White, previously published in the first issue of "Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice" web-based journal

"I grew up in the Midwestern United States (born and raised in Chicago and lived most of my adult life in Minneapolis), and relocated to the Pacific Northwest in 2019. I make detailed, allegorical gouache and watercolor paintings based on my experience with nature, usually depicting animals that appear dead or struggling for survival.

But I grew up within a huge sprawling city, so my relationship with Nature was definitely stunted until I moved to Minneapolis. There I began exploring urban forests, riverbanks and wetlands, taking trips north to Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters Wilderness. Finally discovering the private immensity of nature felt like finding a missing piece of myself, or like my soul opening up and pulling everything in so it could all become a permanent part of me.

I have a hard time separating what is "art" and what is "nature" — if I'm being honest, I think that my real art in its purest form is the relationship with nature that I've cultivated over the years. It exists in the space between nature and myself and shouldn't need a physical form to justify itself, so the paintings that I make based on it sometimes feel like a disappointing failure of communication. I paint anyway, a little because I enjoy it, a little because I once in a while believe in art's potential to have a positive effect in the world, and a lot because my pretentious "pure art" has no value under capitalism and won't translate into food or shelter unless I turn it into something marketable or useful.

We need societies that are aligned with the land they live on, that respect the intrinsic value of nature irrespective of its usefulness to humans, and that understand that a realignment of human activity with nature is not only essential for the survival of our species but also a cure to all sorts of problems we have as individuals and as a community."

Alexandra Dvornikova

is an independent artist and a registered art therapist living in St. Petersburg. Graduated from the St. Petersburg Art and Industry Academy named after A.L. Stieglitz (2008-2015), department of easel and book graphics with a specialization in analog printing and linocut. Then she studied art therapy for two years at the St. Petersburg Academy of Postgraduate Pedagogical Education. She is a co-founder of the linocut workshop. As an artist, she explores the relationship between humans and nature, creating, among other things, small animations.
For more than 3 years, she worked as a volunteer with people with autism and communication disorders. Her sphere of interests embraces archetypal psychology, ecopsychology, biosemiotics, ecological and evolutionary aesthetics, the concept of embodied cognition (George Lakoff), deep ecology, pantheism, mythology, folklore and rituals, metamodern, the possibilities of interdisciplinary interaction between art and science, the role of interspecies communication in the development of the ecosystem and psyche.

She describes her art in the following way:

"In my drawings I want to capture a dreamlike world of harmony between humans and nature, convey my animistic perception of the natural environment, show a moment of an elusive miracle and share it with other people. I am fascinated by the atmosphere of mystery, the state of mystical revelation and vague sensations of a long-forgotten memory. I tend to think in contradictory images and sensations that are difficult to fit into words. I am interested in the experience of archaic living in contact with the forces of nature. I believe that in a sense, we must "enchant" the world anew in order to realize it as a whole and re-experience its incomprehensible greatness. The modern pragmatic view of nature excludes the possibility of a meaningful relationship based on love and respect with the earth. The language of images allows us to touch the aspects of Beauty as a kind of cosmic order and unity of all living things. Art creates new frames for the perception of reality.

Since childhood, the forest seemed a kind of mystical and liminal space to me, where myths and fairy tales come to life. This is a special world, untamed, living according to its own secret laws, a zone of freedom and heightened sensitivity / vitality. If you look closely at wildlife, you can unravel some of its secrets.

I am interested in the topic of communication in the ecosystem. I believe that everything is connected and one and the key to this is the exchange of information. A work of art is akin to a living being or an ecosystem, and it is also included in this multi-level semiotic system. In a broad sense, creativity is the basis of adaptation to the environment, the ability to see potentials and opportunities in it. It may be naive, but I believe that through love and beauty we can return the lost harmony with the world of Nature."
Jean Davis

MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT is a full-time Professor in Pratt Institute's Graduate Creative Arts Therapy Department. She is the Supervisor of the Creative Arts Therapy Department at the League School, is the former Director of the Transitional Living Community, a program of Brooklyn Community Services, and is the former Clinical Director of the Greenwich Village Youth Council. Jean Davis has postgraduate training in the areas of group therapy, gestalt therapy and applied ecopsychology. She has published written work and conducted presentations on the subject of environmental art therapy and has a private practice in Brooklyn, New York. She identifies as an artist with the strong conviction that the act of creation can be performed with all kinds of materials, and is also a way of navigating in the world. She believes that the more we practice and are mindful while doing so, the closer we move toward improved health, individually and collectively.
The profound relationship between emotions and external conditions has been at the center of Jean's paintings for decades. The process that gives energy to Jean's art-making is instinctive, rapid, arising from inner emotional states and channeling and evoking, perhaps, a collective emotional experience. Jean believes that bringing more awareness to the continuous flow between inner and outer might offer us the vital opportunities to feel more deeply, and to be in greater sync with all that surrounds us – human community in all its complexity, the glorious and ultimately unknowable natural environment, and layers of invisibility found in intuition, dreams and spirituality.
Svetlana Pastukhova

ceramic artist, teacher of ceramics and fine arts, a leader of educational and art therapy programs at the Center for Continuing Education for Students with Special Educational Needs "Trajectory", and a senior lecturer, The Pedagogical University named after P.P. Semenov-Tyan-Shanskiy." She has a higher art and pedagogical education, underwent professional training in art therapy.
"In my classes with schoolchildren and students, I actively use an ecological / environmental approach that helps to see, feel and understand the world of nature and culture around, contributing to the development of the ecological and cultural identity of schoolchildren and students. In my work as a ceramic artist, I rely on the traditions of folk culture and art, in which I see a powerful ecological basis.

The natural environment is a constant source of inspiration for me, and natural phenomena, plants and animals are subjects of communication, whose characters I strive to convey in my art works. I see a lot that is akin to a ritual, the mystery of generation in my work as a ceramic artist. I often perceive working on a potter's wheel as a magical act, the creation of a natural microcosm in its unity with human beings, as an act of ecopoiesis. I try to combine traditional methods of working with clay with forms of contemporary environmental art."
Anna Amirkhanova

a practicing psychologist, psychoanalyst, artist. Currently works with children in a special school and with adolescents with addictions.
"I've been painting most of my life. For me, this is a way to express the sensual line that is born when contemplating nature, the versatility of people. I try to convey the beautiful in a simple way, the pattern of connections and the narrative line that nature itself whispers to a person, pushing for changes. I embody my ideas in artistic images of romantic love in its contact with nature, weaving the plot into the atmosphere of the environment.

For the first time I embodied the world of nature and fairy tales in a series of illustrations for the personal exhibition "Legends of Baikal" in Irkutsk. Since then, I render feelings and people's destinies and relationships through the prism of the environment.

In one of the series of works devoted to romantic relationships, entitled "The Ecology of Romantic Relationships," I examine them using the example of relationships between real or fictional characters, heroes of myths, legends, literary works, and present their relationships in certain most characteristic landscapes.

In addition to paintings depicting heroes, I also created a series of paintings depicting pairs of flowers, in which flowers convey the essence of the heroes, their nature and their connection with the earth. This reinforces the ecological notes in this cycle and provides clues to some of the natural and cultural origins of the characters' personalities.

I think that with my art works I draw people's attention to the ecological foundations of their relationships, I invite them to develop their relationships with each other, but I also invite them to develop their relationship with the land, appreciate and feel the natural and cultural environment and take care of it, just as they care for each other.

Olga Ornata

an artist, a teacher at the Higher School of Design (Moscow), has exhibited in Russian and foreign galleries, an author and host of art groups, has created her own art school, a member of the International Art Fund, and hosts outdoor land art programs.
"I'm very enthusiastic about doing art in the environment, land art. Here art and nature meet, carefully and delicately penetrate each other. The white walls of the gallery are wonderful, but the strongest creative and personal impressions I often get when working in the open air, and this is no coincidence. After all, art is one of the ways a person comprehends reality and adapts to it. Of the various forms of fine art, it is land art that is a form of realizing human interaction with the natural environment, finding one's place in it. Here a person seeks and finds creative forms of interaction with the environment, instead of the usual control and processing nature into commodities. We're more and more immersed in the digital, virtual environments, and there is less and less opportunity to "live on earth", in tune with nature. At the same time, there is a growing need for humans "to return to planet Earth."

You can get acquainted with two of my art works at the exhibition: a magazine photo collage combined with mixed media and video art. The art work is a part of a project for "The Landscape" Y exhibition, held in 2019 at the Center for Creative Industries "Fabrika" (Moscow). "Landscape Y" represents my search for the place of natural landscape in modern reality, a designation of its relevance, a search for new forms of representation.

Another work is the herbal installation arranged as a mandala floating in the sky."

Shaun McNiff

Lesley University (Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States), author of Imagination in Action: Secrets for Unleashing Creative Expression; Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go; Art Heals; Art as Medicine; Integrating the Arts in Therapy; Art-Based Research; Art as Research and other books. An exhibiting painter who has had a seminal influence on the areas of creativity enhancement, the arts and healing, and art-based research, he has lectured and taught throughout the world. McNiff has received various honors and awards for his work including the Honorary Life Member Award of the American Art Therapy Association. He established the first integrated arts in therapy and education graduate training program at Lesley University from which the field of expressive arts therapy emerged and in 2002 Lesley appointed him as its first University Professor.
«Nature is experience and the complete context of interdependent life with all separations made by arbitrary concepts and institutions--- thus the gestures, perceptions, imaginings, memories, responses, adjustments, feelings, and the overall making of a painting is a unique moment in the process of nature and the work can best be engaged from this perspective. When I paint landscapes, figures, spaces, and places, my concern is always the quality of the gestures that I make and the shaping of the paint into a coherent and dynamic composition---- micro acts within nature's creating. I might have a subject in mind, but it is always a starting point and an ongoing partner in creation that like me and the surrounding environment, takes shape and changes through the making of a painting. The same applies to all media of artistic expression when approached as acts of nature.

To think of nature as something separate from the person making art is a flawed, yet entrenched and anthropomorphic paradigm, at odds with reality as an ongoing community of creation with infinite partners large and small. And like nature, artistic expressions can perfect themselves and keep their given places while awaiting and making way for the new. We need a depth psychology of art and nature to hold and cultivate this life-affirming and healing process.»

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