A guide to creating community-based art installations using green waste, invasive species and natural materials
Disposing of unwanted natural materials can be expensive and time-consuming, or it can present a tremendous opportunity for creating collaborative eco-art. Invasive-species control, green-waste management, urban gardening, and traditional crafts can all be brought together to strengthen community relationships and foster responsible land stewardship. Simple, easily taught, creative techniques applied with shared purpose become the modern-day equivalent of a barn raising or a quilting bee.
Common Threads is a unique guide to engaging community members in communal handwork for the greater good. Sharon Kallis provides a wealth of ideas for:
Working with unwanted natural materials, with an emphasis on green waste and invasive species Visualizing projects that celebrate the human element while crafting works of art or environmental remediation Creating opportunities for individuals to connect with nature in a unique, meditative, yet community-oriented way
Combining detailed, step-by-step instructions with tips for successful process and an overview of completed projects, Common Threads is a different kind of weaving book. This inspirational guide is designed to help artists and activists foster community, build empowerment, and develop a do-it-together attitude while planning and implementing works of collaborative eco-art.
Sharon Kallis is a Vancouver artist who specializes in working with unwanted natural materials. Involving community in connecting traditional hand techniques with invasive species and garden waste, she creates site-specific installations that become ecological interventions. Her recent projects include The Urban Weaver Project, Aberthau: flax=food+fibre, and working closely with fiber artists, park ecologists, First Nations basket weavers, and others.
The life of an ecologically-minded artist need not be a lonely pursuit. Vancouver, B.C., artist Kallis argues that the environment needs armies of people who can manipulate and repurpose invasive plants and natural detritus to create something striking. This book works as a serious guide for those who want to "up-purpose green waste" and create eco-art pieces for their communities. Kallis provides examples from her own extensive work with different kinds of eco-activism and crafts in a variety of public arenas. Some projects are architectural in nature, such as woven fences defining a newly refurbished local public commons; others are ingeniously functional, as when a crocheted net of invasive ivy provides much-needed temporary erosion control. One small woven sculpture, a "willow spinning wheel," acts as a fleeting memorial. Each object is worked on by many hands and appreciated by many eyes, and then left to its own devices. While the book is occasionally as dry as spent cedar bark, it's a must-read for those pursuing eco-art and eco-activism.