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Art & Interpretation

wendy wischer and john mack art installationSupporting Structures by Wendy Wischer and John Mack, 2016.

We spend our lives dwarfed by human landscapes: skyscrapers, circling freeways, bridges, poles, paved streets and rail lines; human-engineered sounds; artificial lights.

What happens when the situation is reversed? When we are surrounded not by the products of human technology, but by natural landscapes: wide floodplains, fast-flowing rivers, rocky canyons, massive mesas, the songs of birds, the swoosh of wind, a relentless sun?

Bonderman Field Station welcomes artists of all disciplines to find inspiration in the station's remote desert setting. We especially encourage collaborative projects that rigorously engage interdisciplinary queries into the science and spirit of the Colorado Plateau.

Check out some of the press highlighting Art and Interpretation studies at the station:




Current Projects

Wendy Wischer, Art -- (Rio Mesa Young Scholar Grant Awardee)

Through my research I am seeking a wide range of data that I can use to creatively link nature with technology, science with mythology, and personal identity with universal connections, while addressing our current environmental crisis in hopes of finding impactful ways to connect people more deeply with the environments they live in. When we feel connected, we often are more compelled to take action. The challenge for me is to stay true to my aesthetic choice of beauty while representing the devastating effects human kind is having on the planet. While my artwork has always been inspired by the natural environment, more recently I am compelled to incorporate and focus on environmental issues; to translate data into personal understanding and create artwork that moves the viewer in poetic ways. My research at Rio Mesa consists of ongoing projects that work with the environment as site and inspiration. The Rio Mesa Young Scholar grant was used to explore creating performances and rituals for the lens both through still photography and video with sound components. It resulted in a series of photographs title “Contained”. This spring (2016) I plan to come to work on two projects, one will be a sculpture bee nest that can be used to attract and house bees for the vegetation there as well as be used for research. I also plan to work on a video projection with a tent made of rear projection material where the video will be on the walls of the tent. My website.

Julie Rada, Theater -- (Rio Mesa Young Scholar Grant Awardee)
The In-Between: an unapologetically unempirical artistic response to the earth and all of their tendencies (whatever that means). Over the period of three visits of several days to Rio Mesa, I will develop a performance piece based on my experiences with the land and elements, with a focus on solitude, darkness, and fear. I will document my process with photography and video, but the ultimate product will be a live performance for an audience.


Past Projects

Christine Baczek
Art and science are closely related in my work, and I use analog and historical photographic processes because of their scientific history and aesthetic qualities. I am using the plants of Rio Mesa in an ongoing body of work, Sensitive, which asks questions about what it means to be native, to belong, to survive, to outcompete, and to cause unintentional harm. Website.

Luke Williams, Music -- (Rio Mesa Undergraduate Research Fellowship Awardee)
Desert Gestaltis a collection of experimental songs, and an attempt to mimic (loosely and conceptually) the eons of geologic, hydrologic, and biospheric mark-making that sculpt the tenuous topography and ecology of a place. In that spirit, these songs have been cut, stacked, stretched, and collaged together from a body of sound that I gathered and plucked during my stay at the field station. Though I brought instruments with me, I wanted to give myself permission to treat my mandolin and accordion playing with the same simultaneous reverence and irreverence with which I approached bird calls, crickets, and the hiss of the river. I used my recordings as building blocks and conceptual springs, which separated the sound-making process from the songwriting process, which felt both foreign and liberating. A particularly rhythmic string of cricket chirps inspired the construction of a percussive cricket orchestra. One day’s accordion improvisation stacked on top of another day’s echoing banjo resulted in a rhythmic and harmonic serendipity that I never would have written on purpose. The result is sometimes cacophonous and erratic, like a flash flood or earthquake, and sometimes calm, like the humming peace between such events. Website.

Kathryn Stedham- Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa's first artist-in-residence.
My current work over the past couple of years has explored relationships between earth and water. My paintings incorporate a system of drips scraping and incising, not unlike the process of erosion and building up occurring naturally in the landscapes around us. Website.

Bret Hanson
I am a printmaker. My work explore spaces and map-making in the physical and spiritual landscapes that we inhabit. While I am creating layers of information that add to the feeling of depth and substance, I am also intrigued with the effects of dematerialization on form. I am trying to capture the essence, or spiritual qualityof things that appears when forms are stripped back to the most basic elements. Website.

Michael Handley
My time spent at Rio Mesa will be focused on going out into the land to explore and grow from within the land, not to conquer, but to pass through it with silence and grace, taking in its language and form through drawings and photography, video and audio diaries. Specifically, I will create a series of nighttime audio recordings; drawings of land, plants, rocks and animals and photographs of residual markings of people, storms and other weather related phenomena. This research will be compiled, developed and edited with the intent to be shown within an academic, gallery or domestic space. Website.

Jennifer Buchi: Early Center Inhabitants, Creative Writing & Bookmaking (2010)
My artists' book explored the ideas of shape and suspension at Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa. The history and archeology of the ranch give me a sense that though the place itself fluctuates-through drought and flood, through occupation and absence, through seasons-the experience of people living there remains constant, suspended both in time and location. At Rio Mesa, the constraints make the man: every inhabitant faces the same challenges of finding food, making a living, surviving isolation. Along the wall of the canyon at the head of the ranch, there is a pictograph of a man, mouth open, tongue protruding, single eye wide from awe or panic and a yoke, or a noose, around his neck. Though the image is fading fast with the erosion of its underlying sandstone, the idea remains of a man suspended above the canyon floor, watching through time as the landscape shifts beneath him, as people come and go. It is his strained stillness that I tried to access and recreate through the book.

Last Updated: 2/1/24