Welcome to the second Art + EnvironmentSM Conference at the Nevada Museum of Art. The first conference in 2008 kicked off the establishment of the Museum’s Center for Art + Environment, which remains the only research institute in the world devoted to the subject of creative interactions with natural, built, and virtual environments. In three years since that first Conference, the Center has inaugurated an exhibition and publication series, piloted a grant program for artists and writers, and collected dozens of archives from six continents containing work by more than 200 artists.
Why does the Center for Art + Environment collect archives? It has been estimated that up to 97% of the world’s art is destroyed within one hundred years of its making. We’re not familiar with the best classical Greek statues because most of them are destroyed, buried, or underwater. We’ve lost a century of Dutch painting due to war, and countless Asian artworks are gone because of dynastic upheavals and tragic looting. Archive collections offer a momentary stay against decay and loss, but are an important opportunity for researchers to learn from the past—even as the present accelerates away from it.
Most of the projects the Center collects help scholars around the world not only to understand environments, but also to reshape our relationships with them—whether through land art, cataloguing global change, or the design of adaptive architectures and ecologies. Key to this effort is assembling a unique archive that contains foundational materials from Michael Heizer and Walter de Maria, and contemporary works from the Center for Land Use Interpretation and Land Arts of the American West. Many Art + EnvironmentSM Conference speakers are contributors to the CA+E Archive. For example, the Archive holds a thorough working record from artist Mandy Martin and a library of publications from Fritz Haeg. The Archive also contains materials from the recipients of the first Artists | Writers | Environments grant, Amy Franceschini and Michael Taussig, as well as notes, sketches, and records from Geoff Manaugh’s Landscape Futures exhibition.
Over the past three years, we’ve also refocused the Museum’s library, retaining a core survey of general art history texts, while significantly increasing holdings in topics such as land arts, green architecture, and art & science projects. And we’ve added a special collections for the acquisition of rare and out-of-print materials from the mid-20th century that underpin the field of art and environment studies. As a physical corollary to this intellectual concentration, we are remodeling the library to serve better the needs of visiting scholars, while expanding and uniting the archives collections, library, and gallery in one distinct space.
The study of art + environment is not just about remembering what we’ve done, but is also an ongoing re-creation of the future through imagination, aesthetics, and technology. That re-creation—which we call art—is dependent upon conversation, as well as collecting, conservation, and public programs.
We are honored you have joined us to be a part of the conversation.
William L. Fox
Director, Center for Art + Environment