Statement

My practice concentrates on art as a form of education and activism. I have witnessed how environmental concerns addressed through art, audience, and intervention can link diverse ideas, tools, and collective action. Being concerned with a broad range of environmental stressors and wasteful practices, I connect a wide variety of sculptural processes and operations to green issues. Traditional and contemporary sculpture techniques are frequently paired with various creative operations and tactics including social practice, emphasizing audience participation in the physical or conceptual realization of artworks. Recent ceramic works allow participants to control or drive the works in any direction in public space.

 

Collaborations are an essential element in a series of ongoing hydroponic community gardens, such as Armagardden. Community partners maintain the gardens and harvest the bounty produced by these living sculptures composed of recycled components, ceramic refuse, and living plants. These whimsically functional yet serious hydroponic plant growth systems often occur in unexpected locations, blurring the boundaries between utility and aesthetics, functionalism, and symbolism. Installations often include a table where participants can sit, review, and choose free plans and other didactic materials illustrating how to create and maintain one's hydroponic garden. The audience can also make and learn directly alongside the artist, empowering creativity in everyone despite age, background, or educational level. I see artmaking as a collaborative event, demonstrating the fragile connection between the natural world and personal action. Empowering the community while promoting the message that our daily activities all have meaning; they add up. 

 

Since 2009, Wendy DesChene and Jeff Schmuki, a married collaborative known as PlantBot Genetics, has combined community collaboration and a solar-powered, mobile artspace with tactical media and public space to promote critical thinking and political action on environmental issues. PlantBot Genetics is a biotech parody engaged in humorous satiric research, development, and marketing of transgenic products and projects.  PlantBot Genetics explores the lack of transparency and corporate "grafting" of food production and distribution by releasing ridiculous, next-generation, robot-plant hybrids to prompt critical discussion on agriculture's environmental costs and how food arrives on our plate.

 

The ongoing Moth Project underscores the decline of the pollinator populations and the need to preserve the environment while short-circuiting doomsday predictions. The Moth Project creates interactive public engagements focusing on environmental education and empowers audiences through citizen science and backyard naturalism, leading to new conversations and civic action.

 © 2021 Jeff Schmuki