Counter Extinction Work
Newton Harrison worked from 1969 to 2012 with his wife Helen Mayer Harrison (1927-2018), and has continued to work alone since her passing. After reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in the late 1960s, The Harrisons decided to only create artworks that benefit “the great web of life”, leading over many years of research and production to the genesis of the Ecological Art movement. Decades later, despite the prescience of The Harrisons and others, the planet finds itself on a short path to the sixth extinction.
In 2007, The Harrisons began to design and realize interdisciplinary works, employing a range of mediums, including landscape-scale living installations, that would not only protect the life web, but actually counter human destruction by stimulating the life web to assist in its own amelioration. The artworks collected in this exhibition, dating from 1970 to the present, demonstrate this singular approach proposed by The Harrisons to mediate the extinction of our natural world, and provide a rough and ready blueprint for countering the extinction now upon us.
Newton Harrison and his team at the Center for the Study of the Force Majeure at University of California, Santa Cruz, continue to develop and implement projects at large-scale across the globe, “aware of the short time remaining for humans to counter the devastating effect of their own greed”. Now 86 years old, Newton is profoundly encouraged by the rising movement of young environmental activists around the globe, led by Greta Thunberg, who he considers to be answering his (and Helen’s) words from their works The Lagoon Cycle (1979) and Serpentine Lattice (1993).