CPNAS - Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences
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Sagehen: A Sierra Proving Ground

April 1, 2020 - October 30, 2020

NAS Building, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., Upstairs Gallery

Free. Photo ID required.

Download the exhibition e-catalog.

This exhibition presents work created by artists participating in the ArtSciConverge residency program at the University of California, Berkeley's Sagehen Creek Field Station in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Truckee, California. Established in 1951 by zoologist and National Academy of Sciences member A. Starker Leopold and aquatic insect specialist Paul “Doc” Needham as part of the University of California's first wildlife and fisheries program, the station’s scientific research includes the study of streams and how they shape land. The station’s ArtSciConverge program, founded in 2011, has hosted dozens of projects that combine art and science in pursuit of basic discovery, community connection, and social transformation.

The artists’ residencies are place-based, meaning that they are concerned not only with art itself as a way of exploring intellectual, philosophical, and aesthetic issues, but also with how art functions and is understood in relationship to a specific location and time. Many of the works featured are artifacts from performance pieces at the field station.

The ArtSciConverge program is shaped in part by the findings of a 2014 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine about the social effectiveness of field stations. The report noted that although the stations produced good science, they were nonetheless losing funding because they were not connected robustly to the public. Just as the science at the Sagehen station has broadened to include research about the existential threats to the future of the planet, so the ArtSciConverge program has grown to include regional exhibitions and public programs. It has successfully forged an internationally admired link from scientific data and information to public awareness, action, and policy.

Note: Although it was scheduled for April 1 – October 30, 2020, the physical exhibition was never actually installed at the National Academy of Sciences Building.  Along with other institutions and public spaces around the world, the NAS Building closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 16, 2020, a week before the scheduled installation date. The research and work for the exhibition has been documented in this catalog and discussed at the August 20, 2020 DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous. A recording of the conversation will be available on YouTube at Youtube.com/CPNAS.

This exhibition was curated by William L. Fox, founding director of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno.


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