Date of Award

12-2012

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

Intermedia

Advisor

Owen F. Smith

Second Committee Member

Joline Blais

Third Committee Member

Ellen Mallory

Abstract

This thesis presents a method of creative collaboration that responds to the dissociation of people to land through agriculture and art. I refer to the land, as a term that conveys respect for the dynamic and vital dependence humanity has on the Earth’s life giving majesty. An individual’s relationship to the land forms their personal and cultural identity. In Maine, as well as around the world, people’s relationship to land is often based on extraction and exploitation. Furthermore, in today’s globalized marketplace, this exploitation often takes place far away from the land where one lives. These factors contribute to a human-land relationship problem that does not allow people to experience the effects of their actions and denies people of a place-based relationship that supports the vitality of the land that feeds us. People are completely dependent on the vitality of the land, but our cultural virtues speak very little of this. Yet, there are deep seeded histories and moments of triumph in the human-land relationship that aspects of modernity were built upon. I suggest that the manner that these triumphs created a capacity for communities to have healthful livelihood in direct relationship with their local land is a measure of their lasting contribution and are worth exploring in a modem context. Through agriculture as art I present a method of public discourse that connects living well to the existence of a diverse and resilient local agriculture based on historically healthful relationships to land. Agriculture as art is my response to the human-land relationship issue. In this document I strengthen the capacity for the human land relationship triumph. I build the ideological foundation of agriculture as art in three areas: social ecology, regenerative agriculture and ecological art in the late-twentieth and early twenty- first century. I connect this theoretical research with my own experiential education, where during my field study experience I discovered a blossoming localized food system and began working with people who were concerned with the land and the social ecology of village scale food production. I report on methods I’ve used to focus and test an agriculture as art practice that combine landscape design and agriculture into a multidisciplinary social tool. The combination of my research and lived experience led to my own cathartic cultural response to the human-land dissociation. The art that I’ve created and experienced, I’ve rendered here for all who are interested. Agriculture as art in its fullest sense can be considered a best-management practice for municipalities, businesses, design firms, homeowners, schools, artists and related organizations who value a human ecology that is rooted in the land’s history, but struggle to make effective connections in daily life. The goal is art that you can eat, while the social process of getting there addresses some of the most pressing economic, ecological and social challenges of modernity.

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