MCA Denver: Recommended Reading & Viewing for Gala Porras-Kim: A Hand In Nature, Steven J. Yazzie: Meandered, & Ken Gun Min: The Lost Paradise

MCA Denver is excited to unveil three new exhibitions this spring. 

"Gala Porras-Kim is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work questions how knowledge is acquired and how artworks and objects function as meaning-makers inside and outside of arts and cultural institutions. Her solo exhibition, A Hand in Nature, focuses on the natural world and lived environment, building upon questions she developed while researching historical collections. Many of the artworks on view distill natural processes into sculptures, drawings, and installations that slowly grow, evolve, or degrade over the course of the exhibition. 
On view from Friday, March 8 to Sunday, September 1, 2024

For his solo exhibition at MCA Denver, Steven J. Yazzie (Diné/Laguna Pueblo) presents recent painting, drawing, sculpture, and video works that reflect on his shifting perceptions of and relationship with landscape. Yazzie is a multidisciplinary artist who explores the complexities of an Indigenous experience as it relates to personal identity, community relationships, and a connection to the land as the source of life, stories, conflict, and healing.
On view from Friday, March 8 to Sunday, May 26, 2024

For his first solo museum exhibition, Ken Gun Min focuses on one of the major throughlines in his practice: landscapes and the natural world. Featuring expansive paintings from the last six years, The Lost Paradise foregrounds Min’s use of real and imagined landscapes, through which he explores issues such as race, gender, sexuality, and immigrant experiences. In these works, Min creates new ecologies where dense, richly-textured compositions serve as metaphors for human experiences of desire, loss, and power. 
On view from Friday, March 8 to Sunday, May 26, 2024"

(From Exhibitions, MCA Denver)

Did these exhibitions spark inspiration, curiosity, or a desire to explore deeper?  Check out these associated books and films from Denver Public Library.

 

Books | Movies

Books

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Observed from space, Earth looks like a blue planet, particularly in the wondrous blue tones emanating from south of the equator. Indeed, about two-thirds of the Earth's surface is covered in water, and our pride in this is exceeded only by what we feel when witnessing the overwhelming abundance and beauty of our natural scenery. The closer we approach each individual landscape, the greater the color ranges become as nature continues to surprise us. The Colors of the Earth presents unique panoramas that showcase the beauty and opulent diversity of our natural world--that will amaze you and deepen your appreciation of our world.

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Ajani, Ashia S.

Built of resilience, Ajani's family persisted, grew, fragmented, expanded, came back together. All the while, as members found themselves marred by history and placelessness, they passed down our stories, recipes, love of plants, old school wisdom. This story is one of how nature and humans are inextricably tied to one another and in fact, need each other to survive. Drawing from an ecocritical perspective, Ajani imagines inheritance as what can be left for future generations, what can be passed down, what needs to be preserved, what earth lessons are most relevant to aid in weathering this ever-evolving world. 

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Botelho, Emily

Drawing on her love of nature, Emily Botelho creates highly textured and incredibly detailed embroidery pieces. Her work is organic, intuitive and celebrates patterns found in the natural world. She uses 3 environments - coastal, mountain and urban - to illustrate her creative process, describing how to find inspiration and where to look for interesting textures, color palettes and items to use as embellishments. 

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Brunt, James

James Brunt makes art that works with the environment while not changing it or having a permanent impact on the world in which he creates. Whether on a beach or in the woods, playing and creating can lead to a sense of calm and connection to nature. With a collection of new and previously unseen works, Brunt combines imagery and words to share how harnessing the power of nature helps us stay connected and grounded in an increasingly fast-paced world.

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Childs, Craig

A deeply felt essay collection focusing upon a vivid series of desert icons--a sheet of virga over Monument Valley, white seashells in a dry desert sand, boulders impossibly balanced. Writer and adventurer Craig Childs delves into the primacy of our starkest landscapes and the profound nature of the more-than-human.

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Colwell, Chip

A fascinating account of both the historical and current struggle of Native Americans to recover sacred objects that have been plundered and sold to museums. Museum curator and anthropologist Chip Colwell asks the all-important question: Who owns the past? Museums that care for the objects of history or the communities whose ancestors made them?

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Crifasi, Robert. R.

Western Water A-to-Z is the first field guide dedicated to Western water. Reinventing this twentieth-century genre for a twenty-first-century audience, Crifasi describes water projects, the culture of water, the ecosystems that water projects have created or destroyed, and the reliance of modern life on this critical resource.

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Flyn, Cal

Cal Flyn, an investigative journalist, exceptional nature writer, and promising new literary voice visits the eeriest and most desolate places on Earth that due to war, disaster, disease, or economic decay, have been abandoned by humans. What she finds every time is an "island" of teeming new life: nature has rushed in to fill the void faster and more thoroughly than even the most hopeful projections of scientists. 

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Fowkes, Maja & Fowkes, Reuben

Art and Climate Change presents an overview of ecologically conscious contemporary art that addresses the climate emergency, as artists across the world call for an active, collective engagement with the planet, and illuminate some of the structures that threaten humanity's survival. Across five chapters, curators Maja and Reuben Fowkes examine artworks that respond to the Anthropocene and its detrimental impact on our world, from scenes of nature decimated by ongoing extinction events and landscapes turned to waste by extraction, to art from marginalized communities most affected by the injustice of climate change. 

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Frej, William

Enigmatic rock art featuring a myriad of symbols and designs can be found throughout remote and arid landscapes of the Greater Southwest, from the Four Corners region of the American West to the Baja California peninsula in Mexico. This vast gallery of ancient art offers intriguing questions. Who created these images on stone and what were their motivations? What do they mean? Are they to be taken literally or might they stand for something else? In this book, William Frej's powerful black and white photographs of rock art in the American Southwest and Baja California provide the opportunity to explore this diverse and mysterious imagery--and to ponder these questions. 

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Grant, Benjamin

The breathtaking, high definition satellite photographs in Timelapse offer a new way to look at the landscape that we have shaped. More than 200 images of industry, agriculture, architecture, and nature highlight incredible patterns while also revealing a deeper story about human impact. This extraordinary photographic journey around our planet captures the sense of wonder gained from a new, aerial vantage point and creates a perspective of Earth as it has never been seen before.

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Harjo, Joy

This collection gathers poems from throughout Joy Harjo's twenty-eight-year career, beginning in 1973 in the age marked by the takeover at Wounded Knee and the rejuvenation of indigenous cultures in the world through poetry and music. How We Became Human explores its title question in poems of sustaining grace.

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Jetñil-Kijiner, Kathy & Kava, Leora (Editors)

In this anthology of contemporary eco-literature, the editors have gathered an ensemble of a hundred emerging, mid-career, and established Indigenous writers from Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and the global Pacific diaspora. This book itself is an ecological form with rhizomatic roots and blossoming branches. Within these pages, the reader will encounter a wild garden of genres, including poetry, chant, short fiction, novel excerpts, creative nonfiction, visual texts, and even a dramatic play-all written in multilingual offerings of English, Pacific languages, pidgin, and translation. 

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Kallusky, Brett

Landfill is a collection of eye-opening photographs made by Brett Kallusky in California's historic Santa Maria Valley, one of the world's great wine-growing areas. This body of work, however, directs our attention to a small section of the landscape: to the entwined systems of vast agricultural production and the waste it creates. The photographs reveal scenes that are literally hidden from public view and knowledge, underscoring their nature as evidentiary documentation: a microcosm with ramifications far beyond its geographical boundaries. 

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Kress, John W. & Stine, Jeffrey K. (Editors)

A collection of thirty-two essays by leading thinkers across the disciplines. These essays explore the Anthropocene from scientific, anthropological, social, artistic, and economic points of view. They seek to understand the drivers of human-induced environmental change as well as how people and planetary systems are adaptng to such change. Each writer offers invaluable insight into Earth's future as the Anthropocene accelerates.

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Mahdavian, Navied

Before Navied Mahdavian moved with his wife and dog in November of 2016 from San Francisco to an off-the-grid cabin in rural Idaho, he had never fished, gardened, hiked, hunted, or lived in a snowy place. But there, he could own land, realize his dream of being an artist, and start a family—the Millennial dream. Over the next three years, Mahdavian leaned into the wonders of the natural Idaho landscape and found himself adjusting to and enjoying a slower pace of living. But beyond the boundaries of his six acres, he was confronted with the realities of America’s political shifts and forced to confront the question: Do I belong here?

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McGuire, Richard.

Richard McGuire's Here is the story of a corner of a room and the events that happened in that space while moving forward and backward in time. The book experiments with formal properties of comics, using multiple panels to convey the different moments in time. Hundreds of thousands of years become interwoven. 

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Sabatini Sloan, Aisha

In Borealis, Aisha Sabatini Sloan writes about a solitary summer visit to Alaska, observing glaciers, shorelines, mountains, bald eagles, and herself. As she studies her surroundings, the myth of Alaska-excitement, exploration, possibility-is complicated by boredom and isolation, and her attempts to set down place in writing are suffused with nostalgia and anxiety. Borealis is a shapeshifting logbook of Sabatini Sloan's experiences as a queer woman contemplating her Blackness in the wilderness and in the mysteries of art-making. 

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Savoy, Lauret E.

Sand and stone are Earth's fragmented memory. Each of us, too, is a landscape inscribed by memory and loss. One life-defining lesson Lauret Savoy learned as a young girl was this: the American land did not hate. As an educator and Earth historian, she has tracked the continent's past from the relics of deep time; but the paths of ancestors toward her--paths of free and enslaved Africans, colonists from Europe, and peoples indigenous to this land--lie largely eroded and lost. In this provocative and powerful mosaic of personal journeys and historical inquiry across a continent and time, Savoy explores how the country's still unfolding history, and ideas of 'race,' have marked her and the land. 

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Sharkey, Erin (Editor)

What are the politics of nature? Who owns it, where is it, what role does it play in our lives? Does it need to be tamed? Are we ourselves natural? In A Darker Wilderness, a constellation of luminary writers reflect on the significance of nature in their lived experience and on the role of nature in the lives of Black folks in the United States. Each of these essays engages with a single archival object, whether directly or obliquely, exploring stories spanning hundreds of years and thousands of miles, traveling from roots to space and finding rich Blackness everywhere.

Movies

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In his final film, Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami created a dialogue between his work as a filmmaker and his work as a photographer. A sustained meditation on the process of image making, 24 Frames is a graceful and elegiac farewell from one of the giants of world cinema.

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The film follows the research of an international body of scientists, the Anthropocene Working Group who, after nearly 10 years of research, argue that the Holocene Epoch gave way to the Anthropocene Epoch in the mid-twentieth century as a result of profound and lasting human changes to the Earth.
Streaming available on Kanopy

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When a renowned architecture scholar falls suddenly ill during a speaking tour, his son Jin finds himself stranded in Columbus, Indiana; a small Midwestern city celebrated for its many modernist buildings. Jin strikes up a friendship with Casey, an architecture enthusiast who works at the local library. As their intimacy develops, they explore both the town and their conflicted emotions: Jin's estranged relationship with his father, and Casey's reluctance to leave Columbus and her mother.
Streaming available on Kanopy

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Follows five Native American communities as they restore their traditional land management practices in the face of a changing climate. For millennia Native Americans successfully stewarded and shaped their landscapes, but centuries of colonization have disrupted their ability to maintain these processes. From deserts, coastlines, forests, mountains, and prairies, Native communities across the US are restoring their ancient relationships with the land. 

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Examine the world's most extraordinary wildlife living in the newest and fastest changing habitat on the planet - cities. The innovative series features a diverse cast of animals that are adjusting to this new world better than predicted, not only applying their natural born skills and abilities to life in the city, but also making amazing physical or behavioral adaptations.
Streaming available on Kanopy

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In the debut directorial feature by actor Joe Odagiri, the film follows an old ferryman in a remote Meiji-era community. His life is a peaceful, cyclical existence, given meaning by the essential role he plays in transporting people, livestock and goods across the water, connecting villages and lives. When news arrives that a bridge is being built, it's clear that his services will no longer be needed. Meanwhile, his life will be equally transformed by the appearance of a mysterious young woman whom he saves from drowning.
Streaming available on Kanopy