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05 Aug 2021

Virtual Insights: Winds of Change | A Conversation on Art, Ecocriticism, Agriculture, and Our Changing Climate

Weathervanes are indicators of the wind’s direction, designed to enliven the skyline and help predict what the weather will be. As weather patterns become increasingly erratic and extreme due to climate change, they become ever more challenging to prepare for and predict. 

This interdisciplinary conversation, inspired by the current exhibition American Weathervanes, brings together scholars, artists, a farmer, and a policymaker for an intersectional dialogue around art and environmentalism. Through the varied lenses of those who study, depict, and work with nature, this conversation will explore relationships to the past and present of the land. The speakers will consider the implications of global environmental crises, strategies for sustainability, and visions for the future. Cultural producer Prerana Reddy will moderate.

Space is limited; advance registration is required. Please consider making a donation when you register to support our ongoing virtual programming.

Instructions for joining us, with a Zoom link and password, will be provided by email upon registration. You can find this information in the confirmation email under “Additional Information.” Closed captioning will be provided in English. For questions or to request accessibility accommodations, please email

Alexis Mena is a two-spirited multidisciplinary farmer, chef, and artist born in Brooklyn, NY; Alexis identifies as Afro-Taino. For the past eight years, Alexis has focused on facilitating programming and workshops with a focus on culturally-centered urban farming practices, nutritional culinary arts programming, and public art curricula with the Brooklyn Museum, the MoCADA, Groundswell, and a dozen other NPOs/Arts institutions around NY, MA, CA, Japan, and Holland. In 2017 Alexis served as the Public Art Manager of Arts East New York, managing several successful projects such as CivLabs, and curating the Arts ENY Gallery space. Alexis is also the Creative Director of Artrepreneurship, an art and design worker-owned Co-op, and the co-founder of Back to Black, a farming and wellness worker-owned cooperative. Until June 2020, they managed a Hydroponic farm located inside of Brownsville Collaborative Middle school for Teens for Food Justice and Brownsville Multiservices & Family Health Centers. In 2019 Alexis launched the first Aquaponic Farm and Food Hub located in East New York, Brooklyn, based on food sovereignty and green job creation principles. Transforming two 5000 sq ft buildings into a closed-loop Food Hub that follows a hub and spoke model, growing over 400 lbs of food and fish monthly.

Nilda Mesa is Visiting Lecturer at the Paris School of International Affairs, SciencesPo, and Adjunct Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, as well as an Adjunct Senior Research Scientist at the Earth Institute. She serves on the Board of Directors of United Therapeutics (NASDAQ: UTHR). Mesa is the founding Director of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and served in senior environmental roles at the US EPA, the Pentagon, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and studied at the Art Students League and MICA. Her collaborative work, Unity Canvas, is in the permanent collection of the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Her forthcoming book, Collaborating for Climate Resilience, will be published by Routledge on September 15, 2021.

Mary Mattingly is an artist based in New York City. Her work has been exhibited at Storm King Art Center in New York, the International Center of Photography, Palais de Tokyo, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de la Habana, and the Bronx Museum of the Arts.  With the US Department of State, she participated in the smARTpower project in Manila. She founded a floating food forest in New York called Swale. Her work has been featured in Art in America, Artforum, Sculpture Magazine, The New York Times, Le Monde, New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and on BBC News, MSNBC, and on Art21. Her work has also been featured in books, including the Whitechapel/MIT Press Documents of Contemporary Art series, Nature and Henry Sayer’s A World of Art.

Una Chaudhuri is a Collegiate Professor and Professor of English, Drama, and Environmental Studies at New York University and Director of XE: Experimental Humanities and Social Engagement.  She is a pioneer in the fields of eco-theatre and Animal Studies. Her recent publications include Animal Acts: Performing Species Today (co-edited with Holly Hughes), The Ecocide Project: Research Theatre and Climate Change (co-authored with Shonni Enelow), and The Stage Lives of Animals: Zooësis and Performance. Chaudhuri participates in collaborative creative projects, including the multi-platform intervention entitled Dear Climate, and is a founding member of the theatre think-tank, CLIMATE LENS.

Prerana Reddy is an independent cultural producer based in New York City working at the intersection of art, civic engagement, and social movements. She is currently a member of Creative Time’s 1st Think Tank cohort which will be exploring new methodologies to dismantle exclusionary and colonialist modes of artistic creation and presentation. Reddy was most recently the Director of Programs at A Blade of Grass, a nonprofit that advances the field of socially engaged art through financial support for artists, public programming, research, and content creation. Previously, she was the Director of Public Programs & Community Engagement for the Queens Museum from 2005-2018, where she organized both exhibition-related and community-based programs with such renowned artists as Damon Rich, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Mel Chin, and Pedro Reyes.


Image: The Waterpod Project; Mary Mattingly. Photo courtesy of the artist.

6:00 pm–7:30 pm

Online; free with registration