For the 2020 season, the Virtual Volcano observatory is proud to support an artist residency program, providing studio space for creators whose work is in conversation with natural phenomena. See below for details on the artists in this year’s residency, as well as a description of their current projects.

Images 1-3: Dead Gods by Jemila MacEwan
Now on view between House 14 and House 15 in Nolan Park
Jemila MacEwan is an interdisciplinary artist based in New York. MacEwan is known for her intimately interwoven earthworks, sculptures and performances that build mythological narratives around meteorites, volcanoes, and glaciers. These stories engage with the emotional complexity of being human within the Holocene extinction.

‘Dead Gods’ will pay tribute to a specific prehistoric mushroom called the Prototaxite. Prototaxites lived 416 million years ago and were, at that time, the largest living organisms on the planet. These totem-like giants – known to have grown 30 feet tall – dominated the Sirulian landscape. This work ennobles Prototaxites, recognizing them as creators of life on earth and interpreting the natural history of our planet as a cosmology. Upholding the importance of cosmologies, origin stories and mythologies is crucial to our sense of connection between cultural histories and the natural history of the universe. By recognizing the power of honoring ancestors as a grounding perspective, we are taking responsibility for the preservation of life as part of an ongoing lineage.

These mycelium monoliths will be grown from a modern-day ancestor of the ancient fungi giants, holding space for contemplation of the perseverance of life through repeated events of mass-extinction. To meet the challenges of the Holocene Extinction, we need to extend our imagination of ancestry beyond the human narrative and recognize our place as co-collaborators in the story of life on earth. ‘Dead Gods’ is accountable to the psychological pressure of trying to reach into the past to gain control of a future fraught with uncertainty.

Image 4: Light drawing by Nooshin Rostami
Nooshin Rostami (b. Shahroud, Iran) is a New York-based interdisciplinary artist. Driven by passion for drawing and a force of play, Rostami’s practice is deeply influenced by their story of exile and memory of displacement. They create simple geometric games, while considering notions of space and architecture to weave together poetry and philosophy.

During the residency at Virtual Volcano Observatory at Governors island, Rostami will be working on a series of sculptural pieces with the working title: “rocks that carry light”.  In their work, through metaphorical construction and often game-like processes, they make “Reflective structures” and spatial landscapes that constitute personal, social and political narratives. Rostami creates landscapes using mirrors, glass prisms and lights as structures that reflect, refract and illuminate while performing processes of emotional reflection and contemplation. Their research is focused on human perception of space acting as a means to probe the fundamental aspects of the human condition.