The River Rail
The Lunder Institute and the Colby College Museum of Art partnered with Lunder Institute fellow Phong Bui and The Brooklyn Rail to produce The River Rail: Occupy Colby, a special issue of the magazine that connects research and creative production about environmental peril to the Colby community. Building on the themes of the Colby Museum exhibition Occupy Colby: Artists Need to Create on the Same Scale that Society Has the Capacity to Destroy, Year 2, this issue of The River Rail focuses on humankind’s role in and response to ecological crises, including climate change. The project is part of the Lunder Institute’s ongoing initiatives around environment and climate and reflects Colby’s long history of leadership in environmental studies and stewardship.
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 the public conversation Bui moderated in September 2019 between Occupy Colby exhibiting artists Allyson Vieira and Alexis Rockman and several Colby faculty members. Also included are field notes, research summaries, interviews, poetry, and personal essays by Colby faculty, curators, and students. 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.
A number of programs accompanied the publication including a public reading by students and faculty in the Brewster Reading Room of Colby’s Miller Library on November 14, 2019. Local farmers joined Bui and members of the Colby community for a celebratory picnic in a meadow that featured sustainably-raised local food. The Lunder Institute hosted open mic nights for the Colby community at Mary Low Coffeehouse and a printmaking popup workshop with Colby’s Director of Civic Engagement, artist Elizabeth Jabar, at Waterville’s new Hinge Collaborative. A private launch party took place on October 29, 2019, at The Landing Annex at Industry City in Brooklyn, NY.
The River Rail: Occupy Colby is being distributed for free while supplies last on the Colby campus and at various locations throughout Maine and New York City. For information about obtaining copies, email [email protected]. The online edition is available on website of The Brooklyn Rail.
What role do artists have to play in addressing climate change and other ecological crises? The Lunder Institute for American Art hosted a panel discussion and Q&A on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019 with Phong Bui, Alexis Rockman, Allyson Vieira, Denise Bruesewitz, and Keith Peterson. Phong Bui is a curator, artist, scholar, publisher and artistic director of the Brooklyn Rail, and 2019 Lunder Institute Fellow. Alexis Rockman and Allyson Vieira are both exhibiting artists in Occupy Colby: Artists Need to Create On the Same Scale That Society Has the Capacity to Destroy, Year 2. Denise Bruesewitz is Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, and Keith Peterson is Associate Professor of Philosophy.