‘The River Rail: Occupy Colby’ brings together art and scholarship on climate change

The Lunder Institute for American Art, the Colby College Museum of Art, and The Brooklyn Rail have joined together to co-publish The River Rail: Occupy Colby, a special edition of the magazine that connects the dialogues surrounding climate change to the Colby community.

Building on the themes of the exhibition Occupy Colby: Artists Need to Create on the Same Scale that Society Has the Capacity to Destroy, Year 2, on view at the Colby College Museum of Art through January 5, 2020, The River Rail: Occupy Colby focuses on humankind’s role in and response to ecological crises, including climate change.

Curated by Phong Bui—New York-based artist, critic, curator, publisher and artistic director of The Brooklyn Rail, and a 2019 Lunder Institute Fellow—Occupy Colby continues an initiative launched in 2017 at Mana Contemporary, Jersey City. The Colby iteration, a satellite show to Rail Curatorial Projects’ contribution to the Venice Biennale, features works by Lauren Bon, David Brooks, Mel Chin, Mark Dion, Maya Lin, Meg Webster and others responding with heightened awareness to the fragility of planet earth.

“The decision to orient the Colby iteration around environmental issues and climate change as well reflects the college’s long history of leadership in environmental studies and stewardship,” write Sharon Corwin, Carolyn Muzzy Director and Chief Curator of the Colby College Museum of Art, and Lee Glazer, director of the Lunder Institute for American Art, in the publication’s introduction.

Guest edited by three Colby College faculty members, Kerill O’Neill, Julian D. Taylor Professor of Classics, Denise Bruesewitz, associate professor of environmental studies, and Chris Walker, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow of Environmental Humanities, The River Rail: Occupy Colby features a transcribed panel discussion Bui moderated in September between Occupy Colby exhibiting artists Allyson Vieira and Alexis Rockman and several Colby faculty members. Also featured are a text by Diana Tuite, the Museum’s Katz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, and a selection of essays by Colby faculty and students in both the sciences and the humanities.

“Topics range from the perils of generational amnesia in recognizing environmental decline to the use of deep ice core samples in understanding climate history; from reflections on river-detritus-as-data to the suggestion that algorithms, which now so massively and ubiquitously organize our data, should actually be regarded as organisms within their own ecosystem. The thread binding these texts together is a common recognition of the interconnectedness of nature and human activity,” reflect Corwin and Glazer.

There was a public celebration with catered reception at Colby College on November 14 in the Brewster Reading Room of Miller Library, where students and faculty members read excerpts from The River Rail: Occupy Colby. The Lunder Institute is also hosting open mic nights for the Colby community at Mary Low Coffeehouse at 9pm on November 22 and December 6, and a printmaking popup workshop at Waterville’s new Hinge Collaborative space, with Director of Civic Engagement and artist Elizabeth Jabar on December 9. A private launch party took place on October 29 at The Landing Annex at Industry City in Brooklyn, NY.

The River Rail: Occupy Colby will be distributed for free on the Colby campus and at various locations throughout Maine and New York City. For information about obtaining copies, email [email protected].


About The Brooklyn Rail

Founded in October 2000 and published 10 times annually, The Brooklyn Rail provides an independent forum for arts, culture, and politics throughout New York City and far beyond. The Rail further fulfills its mission by curating art exhibitions, panel discussions, reading series, and film screenings that reflect the complexity and inventiveness of the city’s artistic and cultural landscape. Other Rail initiatives include its small press Rail Editions, and the curatorial endeavor, Rail Curatorial Projects. Rail Editions publishes books of poetry, experimental fiction, prose meditation, artists’ writings, and interviews with artists in addition to art and literary criticism. Rail Curatorial Projects seeks to establish dialogues between artists, curators, dealers, critics, collectors, and art historians via rigorously conceived and researched exhibitions and events. The Brooklyn Rail is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and distributes its journal free of charge around New York City, as well as to a growing list of national and international subscribers.


River Rail cover image: Mark Dion, After Den, 2012/2017. Diorama model of existing public installation, mixed media, 49 x 61 x 57 in. Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles.