Among the leading pioneers of the eco-art movement, the collaborative team of Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison has worked for over 40 years with biologists, ecologists, architects, urban planners and other artists to uncover ideas and solutions that support biodiversity, often tuned to community development. Most recently, they have formed a non-profit organization associated with the Arts Division at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The organization, the Center for the Study of the Force Majeure, works to mediate the combined forces of global warming, ocean rise and increasing extinctions.
The Harrisons’ concept of art embraces an unusual range of disciplines. They are artists who can function variously as historians, diplomats, ecologists, investigators and art activists. Their work involves creating with poetic narratives embedded in complex large-scale imagery. Often, their practice proposes solutions and involves not only public discussion, but also extensive mapping and documentation of these proposals in diverse art contexts.
Past projects have focused on watershed restoration, urban renewal, agriculture and forestry issues, among other issues. Their first global warming works were done in the 1970s. The Harrisons’ visionary projects have led to changes in governmental policy and have expanded dialogue around previously unexplored issues leading to practical implementations such as Baltimore Promenade (1981) and A Vision for the Green Heart of Holland (1994).