Earthmakers & Extensions, presented at the Nanaimo Art Gallery in 1997, consisted of three separate collaborative works by Vancouver artists Barbara Zeigler and Joan Smith. Earthmakers itself, the main installation, was based on scientific and aesthetic research into the life-forms that inhabit one square meter of soil in an area of old-growth rainforest on Vancouver Island.
Combining drawing, photography, photocopying, computer imaging and etching, the artists and a team of technical collaborators produced a vast series of images of soil fauna – normally unseen by the human eye – that fill one hundred and ninety large panels of Japanese rice paper covering three walls of an installation space. A fourth wall, a large-format multi-panel collage, was composed of a variety of throw-away materials that originated in the forest – flyers, newspapers, and junk mail – that have been reinvested with a sense of organic life through the addition of natural dyes, soil and peat-moss. Within the confined space of the installation a visitor also encountered a floor module referring to the original site of investigation: a square meter of soil and decomposed cedar. (excerpt from catalogue essay by Patrick Mahon)
For each of the three works, the approach to the process of collaboration was different. The Earthmakers installation was the result of an ongoing collaborative effort between Barbara Zeigler and Joan Smith over six years.
Extensions: Stepping Stones, was part of UBC’s “Collaborative Connections Project”, a collaborative interdisciplinary project forming a link between art and science carried out with Zeigler’s third-year University of British Columbia printmaking class and 26 grade 4 and 5 elementary students from Mr. Peter Guzzo’s class at James Whiteside Elementary School in Richmond, B.C.
The third installation, Extensions: Divine Detritus, was done by Zeigler and Smith in collaboration with 30 participants from the Liberal Studies Department at Malaspina University College in Nanaimo. This work was a multi-media installation that incorporated slide projection, and drawing, painting and writing on large sheets of oriental paper that were suspended from the ceiling of the Nanaimo Art Gallery.
Liberal Studies students creating Extensions: Divine Detritus drawings
Preparing the installation for Earthmakers & Extensions
Extensions: Divine Detritus installation view
Detail of etching, Earthmakers