Miller Worley Environmental Leadership Lecture: On the Art of Sustainability at Mount Holyoke College

March 30th, 2015

Jay Beach ArtPRESS RELEASE – In the many challenges we face in the future, creativity is at the forefront for helping us understand and develop solutions for a healthier planet. The creativity needed for a sustainable people and planet is an art form which encourages new methods of thinking.

On Thursday, April 9th, Environmental Artist Jay Mead will discuss the “Art of Sustainability,” stimulating exploration and creativity as essential approaches for achieving personal and professional goals, for creative problem solving and for better understanding and working with systems. According to Mead, “Creative problem solving is essential for addressing the many challenges we face in bringing about a sustainable future for people and planet. Sustainability is an art. And art helps us break through old ways of thinking to get to sustainable solutions. Sustainability should be inspiring, fun and so fully integrated into the way we live that we will no longer need the word. This is work that engages our hearts and minds.” Mead is this year’s Miller Worley Environmental Leadership Lecture, sponsored by the Miller Worley Center for the Environment.

The talk will take place on April 9th at 7:30pm in Cleveland Hall, Room L2, on the campus of Mount Holyoke College. Mead’s lecture will be followed by a Community Art Installation on April 10th from 10am-5pm in the Mount Holyoke College rose garden (rain site: entrance to the Art Building). Everyone is welcome to participate!

While on campus, Mead will also facilitate a workshop in Geography 312: Sense of Place, Sense of Planet. “I invited Jay to lead a workshop in my seminar because I wanted to provide students with an opportunity to think about sustainability through another lens, engage with a different way of knowing, and gain greater fluency in considering complex challenges in creative ways,” says Serin Houston, MHC Professor of Geology and Geography.

Mead has been creating environmental art for over 30 years. He has worked with Bread and Puppet, Cristo, The PuppeTree and was a core member of Wise Fool Puppet Intervention. His work has ranged from large installations to processions and performances. Aside from the USA, he has participated in projects in Germany, the Czech Republic and Brazil. He majored in Visual Studies at Dartmouth College and has held artist residencies in both Painting and Sculpture at the Vermont Studio School and Skidmore College, respectively.

This series of events is co-sponsored by the Departments of Geology and Geography, Art, Environmental Studies, and Architectural Studies, the Office Student Programs, and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. For more information, please contact Ruby Maddox at 413-538-3091. See Mt. Holyoke’s announcement of the event here.

Peoples’ Climate March with Bread and Puppet

October 19th, 2014

The Peoples’ Climate March in New York City in September was the first time since the late 80’s that I carried a puppet for Bread and Puppet in a protest setting. The march was dedicated to climate change and the collective outrage of 400,000 folks who want a sustainable future for all life as we know it.

Jay with Skull, 1

Jay with Skull, 2

The Bread and Puppet contingent performed the following sequence of street theater in protest of the Tar Sands, which are nothing more than death and destruction. Seventy caribou got killed by the tar sands monster (operated by 4-6 people) that then animated 8 or so dancing corporate skeletons. The evil system (operated by me and 9 others) then reveled in our awful power but got beaten down by a dancing woman and a crew of 10-20 butterflies, followed by the “fists of resistance” (10-20 people) who raised up the chant “No tar sands!” The giant skull we are carrying features a maple leaf in the center of the skull symbolizing the Canadian government, the skull being the symbol of death. At the end of this sequence, the band would strike up a raucous tune, and keep us moving.

“Elemental” Installation at SculptureFest

September 15th, 2014

Elemental Collage

Elemental Collage 2

I installed this piece called “Elemental” for SculptureFest 2014 in Woodstock, Vermont. The Opening for the King Farm section was on 30 August. I took old doors and painted earth, air, fire and water elements on them. They are set in the cardinal points: north is earth, east is air, south is fire and west is water. The reflective stone is the center of the piece. It’s made of mosaic broken mirror. The doors are set 12 feet (4 meters) in the air and are spaced 30 feet (10 meters). The space they define has a ritual quality to it.

Featured in Holderness School Magazine

May 25th, 2014

Jay Mead Image, Holderness School Magazine, Winter 2014My alma mater, the Holderness School in New Hampshire, interviewed me and wrote an article about my career entitled “The Art of Well-Being” in their Winter 2014 magazine.

Read the full article here: Jay Mead Article, Holderness School Magazine, Winter 2014

 

 

Keynote and “The Waste Stream:” Earth Day at Humboldt State University

April 30th, 2014

For Earth Day, I was invited to Humboldt State University in Arcata, California to deliver a keynote address on my “Art of Sustainability” approach and to co-create an installation with students to raise awareness about the plastics flowing through our lives (and into the ocean). I am grateful to organizers and to the Humboldt Energy Independence Fund for making my participation possible.

You can download and view my keynote presentation here: Humboldt Keynote, Jay Mead, April 2014.

“The Waste Stream”

Waste Stream, 2

Waste Stream, 1

“The Waste Stream” installation simulates plastic waste flowing westward into the Pacific Ocean, where there is a monstrous mass of plastic accumulating in something known as the “Pacific Gyre.” The installation was created in a few hours and is kinetic in that the wind moved the five long tentacles of bottle chains. Some 1,500 bottles make up this piece, which stretches a few hundred feet and flows down two sets of stairs.

I liked the fact that it was sprawling on the ground and forced people to notice what was happening and where they were walking. Most folks stepped over the strands carefully while others – like skate boarders – saw it as something to have fun with and jump over.

The folks who stopped by and talked to me about the project engaged in varying degrees of conversation from light to deep, including talk of complex systems going into political, religious, cultural and even evolutionary roots. One participant commented:

“You touched on a question that has been on my mind: How can art activate memories that remind us of how we are connected to this planet?  Once that awareness is activated, turning it into engagement, is the big challenge if we are to move from being passive observers to participants in making our human presence more sustainable.”

I really enjoy engaging with people as I co-create a large piece. It’s wonderful to begin the day of creation not knowing how it will turn out, but having faith and then being pleasantly surprised to discover new aspects such as the role of the wind.