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.
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.
September 15th, 2014
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.
May 25th, 2014
My 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
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”
“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.
March 17th, 2014
I recently had the opportunity to teach an elective Architecture class at The Sharon Academy in Sharon, Vermont. Each of the 8 students completed two projects, one based in fantasy, the other in reality. The first was to design and build a model of a fantasy tree house. The second was to design an artist-in-residence cabin for possible construction on The Sharon Academy campus. Students visited the future site for the cabin to plan a residence footprint no bigger than 800 square feet. Then, they generated drawings and models of their proposed cabins and presented them to classmates, a visiting architect and school administrators:
Through an exciting collaboration with the Harpo Foundation, the school may draw inspiration from the students’ designs to build the actual cabin!
Thanks to Amber Wylie for her photography and slideshow video!