April 'Tricks of the Trade' to Focus on Engaging with the Envrionment Through Art


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' (MCLA) Berkshire Cultural Resource Center will focus its April "Tricks of the Trade" series on environmental art. Workshop participants will learn how to engage with the environment through art and about related initiatives and projects happening in the Berkshires.

Berkshire County has a plethora of environmental and ecological issues that are untapped resources of artistic-social change, according to Jonathan Secor, director of special programs at MCLA. Through this run of three seminars, artists and the general public will learn about the many opportunities available in the area, as well as how to navigate the process of creating their own local environmental art.

Three seminars will take place on April 10, 11 and 12. They will be held at MCLA Gallery 51 in North Adams, at Ferrin Gallery in Pittsfield and at IS183 Art School in Stockbridge. The events are free and open to the public. All seminars begin at 6:30 p.m.

On April 10, MCLA Gallery 51 will present "River Art: Controversy, Restoration and Engineering," a round table discussion with panelists including Lisa Bassi, a member of the Hoosic River Revival Coalition; Nancy Goldberger, a professor emerita of Fielding Graduate University; Dennis Regan, the Berkshire program director of the Housatonic Valley Association; John Case from RiverWorks; and Elaina Traister, coordinator of the environmental studies program at MCLA.

Goldberger is a psychologist, artist and an activist for the environment, art and politics who has lived in the Berkshires since 1970. Along with being a board member of many Berkshire organizations, she was one of the founders of the 51 Percent Solution, a 2002 non-partisan Berkshire women's political action committee. Goldberger was one of the spearheads and director of the 2004 Housatonic River Summer, a collaboration of more than 30 non-profit art and conservancy organizations in their celebration of the past and future of the Housatonic River.

Hoosic River Revival Coalition is an organization that aims to maintain adequate flood control, but to simultaneously reconnect the river to our city, to make it an attribute for recreation, economic development and community building.

The Housatonic Valley Association, founded in 1941, works to conserve the natural character and environmental health of our communities by protecting and restoring the lands and waters of the Housatonic Watershed for this and future generations.

For more than 20 years, Riverworks has invited professional artists, students and members of the community to unleash their imaginations in works that respond to the Hoosic River environment. 

On April 11, Ferrin Gallery will host a lecture and discussion featuring artist Jane Philbrick, a visual artist whose work will exhibit at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) from May through October.

Philbrick recently was an artist fellow at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, MIT. She focused her three-year residency on the research and production of "Everything Trembles." Her past projects include collaborations with researchers and engineers at the Center for Spoken Language Understanding, Oregon Graduate Institute and at Honeywell Fire Solutions Group in Clintonville, Conn.

From 2008 to 2009, Philbrick was the inaugural international fellow at Location One in New York. In Sweden, she presented two large-scale, mixed-media installations at the Wanås Foundation, in 2006. She is a visiting professor at the Valand School of Fine Art in Gothenburg, Sweden.

At MASS MoCA, she works on a site-specific installation called "The Expanded Field." The installation, an industrial garden, takes its name from the seminal 1979 essay, "Sculpture in the Expanded Field," in which Rosalind Krauss wrote of sculpture conceived and shaped as part of the natural and built environment, rather than as a discrete "gallery" object.

On April 12 at IS183 Art School, Tricks of the Trade will present "Opportunities for Environmental Residencies," a round table discussion with Brad Tuggle, residency program director for I-Park, and Krista DeNio, director of Earthdance.

I-Park is a 450-acre woodland retreat in rural East Haddam, Conn. The property consists of ponds, hills, streams, stone outcroppings, sheer cliffs, wild fields, a new growth forest and it is bisected by the Eight Mile River.

Earthdance is an artist-run workshop, residency and retreat center located in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts. It provides a dynamic mix of dance, somatic and interdisciplinary arts training, with a focus on sustainable living, social justice and community.

To see a full schedule of the monthly "Tricks of the Trade" seminar or to download a free brochure, go to bcrc . For more information, (413) 664-8718. To register, contact Valeria Federici, BCRC program coordinator, (413) 663-5253 or

Tricks of the Trade is presented by Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' (MCLA) Berkshire Cultural Resource Center and co-presented by Ferrin Gallery and IS183 Art School. This program is made possible with support by Appelbaum-Kahn Foundation, Excelsior and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.