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Art at 2016 Bioneers Conference

We are excited to bring together an incredible array of artists inspired by biomimicry, ecology, social justice and indigenous knowledge to this year’s Bioneers Conference. Displaying artists include:

Art Displayed in the VMA Hall

Beverly Mayeri | Big Foot

Big Foot is a 6ft tall paper mache foot covered with photos of endangered species in California, representing the devastation human impact has had on the environment.

There is a water line at 4.5’ up the foot which refers to the rise in sea level expected in the future if we don’t cut down on our fossil fuel use. The collage of images of the species goes up to this water line. So in this sculpture our carbon and environmental footprints—our human footprints– are too big for a healthy planet.

A list of the 164 endangered species in California accompanies the piece. The species list came from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Each photo on the Big Foot is numbered so the viewer can look up the name of each species on the list, and can also find the photographer credited for the photo.

Beverly Mayeri is a figurative clay sculptor based in Mill Valley, CA Her work explores the personal life and our connections to each other and to the environment. She earned her BA from UC Berkeley and an MA in sculpture from SF State University. She has had solo exhibitions in San Francisco and New York and currently is represented by Perimeter Gallery in Chicago and Duane Reed Gallery in St. Louis. She has received artist grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Virginia A. Groot Foundation, and Marin Arts Council. Her work is in the permanent collections at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Honolulu Museum of Art, Racine Art Museum (Wisconsin), High Museum (Atlanta) and other public and private holdings.

68Hx72Lx24W in Paper Mache, chicken wire, acrylics

Art on the Grounds


Paz de la Calzada |The Nomadic Labyrinth

A public-interactive labyrinth made with repurposed carpets from hotels and casinos from the Bay Area.

The Nomadic Labyrinth is an installation and public-interactive-based project that consists of a large scale labyrinth-like sculpture of precisely hand cut carpet. This is an ongoing project that not only explore the integration of art and architecture, but serve as a walkable path for the public to explore, walk or meditate and experience art as a transformative tool.

Inspired in an Arabic floral pattern, the carpets used in this design have been collected from several recycling companies in the Bay Area and they represent decorative classic western patterns. For the design of this labyrinth I was interested in the juxtaposition of two different cultural patterns – creating a movable, meditative environment where carpet from archetypical western places like the Ritz Carlton meet an inventive Arabesque.

The Nomadic Labyrinth reflects my vision of creating art that is playful and in dialogue with the urban landscape, and it takes this work one step further by exploring the relationship between art and spirituality, daily life and ritual.

The project launched from Saint Ignatius Church at University of San Francisco in september of 2013 and it travelled through the San Francisco Bay Area including places like the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, YBCA and the De Young in San Francisco. and Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga.

Toni Mikulka | Giant Puppets Save the World

Artist, Toni “Tone” Mikulka, makes giant flying, rod-supported bird kite puppets of silk, bamboo, reed, and papier mache, using nontoxic processes. Operated by one, two or three people, the birds are lightweight and can be puppeteered by children as young as four years old with some guidance. Multi-puppeteer puppets encourage teamwork, collaboration, and communication, a symbolic virtue of how Giant Puppets Save the World, by encouraging us to work together to create something greater than ourselves.
Ever since she was a child growing up in the suburbs of New York City, artist, Toni Mikulka painted a fantastical world in her imagination. Often called the pied piper of her family, Toni loved to entertain other children and adults alike. But drama club was not her preference. Toni liked art in real life culture.

She bounced off to study Anthropology and Art at the State University of New York, and immediately went on to work for arts and cultural orgs like the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and PBS.

In 2010 she was accepted to the Bread and Puppet Theater Company, in Glover, Vermont. She went on to work in set design and puppet performance in Seattle in 2011 where she received a grant to start Giant Puppets Save the World. Toni discovered apprenticeships with giant puppet artists: Sarah Lovett, and Leslie Zens, and taught workshops for the Seattle Solstice Parade and the Procession of the Species Parade in Olympia, WA. She followed her creative pursuits back to NYC with a performance art company as a resident Puppet Master.

She settled into California in the winter of 2012 to work at Habitot Children’s Museum in Berkeley. In the Bay Area she has found a robust artist community with many puppetry partners. In addition to making her own art, she restores the vintage giant puppets made in the 80’s and early 90’s by K. Ruby Blume of Wise Fool Puppet Intervention and is a puppeteer for many puppet groups, including a Bloom Leader for the Billion Jelly Bloom, and she continues to perform with Bread and Puppet when they come to the Bay Area.

Heidi Quante and Alicia Escott | The Bureau of Linguistical Reality

The Bureau of Linguistical Reality is a public participatory artwork by Heidi Quante and Alicia Escott recognizing a collective loss for words to describe the emotions and experiences our species is having around climate change and other Anthropogenic events. Asking the questions of who has the agency to define the world around us— and the words we use to talk about it, The Bureau creates a platform for people to identify feelings and experiences they do not have the language to describe and together coin neologisms to better discuss these.

The Bureau will set up their field study office as part of the Bioneers conference and invite visitors to share emotions and experiences around climate change or other Anthropogenic events for which they wish there was a word -yet no word currently exists- and together create new words so that we might better express ourselves and communicate with one another about our rapidly changing world.


Flags for the Future  Creative Action Institute

In this collaborative arts project, we will paint  and display flags that depict the callings and  commitments of the Bioneers community in  service to life and future generations.Paint your prayer for the future and for the Earth at the Flags for the Future Exhibit, hosted by Aryeh Shell and Cherine Badawi of the Creative Action Institute.

John Lum and Bret Walters | Cardboard: Offspring Furniture and Topographic Investigations

Offspring is a furniture exploration emanating from The Dining Womb, created for the 2010 DIFFA Dining by Design, which was a large site-specific installation composed of 1200 pieces of cardboard which sat 20 people.

Offspring utilized the remnant waste material from the Womb and was our first exploration into furniture design. Working with a highly recyclable, affordable and green material, allowed us to the freedom to sculpt two chairs while testing the structural limits of cardboard.

Chair #1, the Blob, appeals to the grunge, hipster aesthetic of the Mission with a little bit of anime creeping in.  Chair #2, the Chaise Longue, appeals to the refined, modernist aesthete while, the cardboard tempers any high-brow pretentiousness with a down-to-earth, eco-friendly material.  The cardboard will wear with use, creating a unique mapping of the user, and can be recycled when it reaches its lifespan.

Wanting to further our exploration (armed with feedback from end users), we deepened our investigation of seating, starting with the ur-form; derived from usage and comfort versus a preconceived shape.

This led to A Topographic Investigation:  CUBE II.

The design is based on using the biometrics of a person, translating these measurements into form, which optimizes comfort by shaping a cavity that matches his/her body type.  For the exterior of the chair, we chose the pure form of a cube to emphasize the organic within the architectural.

Furthering the customization process, we also added deformations to house personal objects, such as books, an i-pad, or computer that one might imagine for ultimate comfort and convenience.

3-D software gave us the ability to create a unique, individual, bespoke piece; literally a manifestation of human form, technology and biometrics.

Learn more at:

Project Design Team:  John Lum with Bret Walters

Photographer: Sharon Risedorph



Hiya Swanhuyser and Jonathan Hunt | Attack of the Typewriters

Attack of the Typewriters has been a sporadic opportunity for San Franciscans to express their political opinions to elected officials of all kinds, for the past fifteen years. That’s it’s main purpose, but we know people sneak in and write poetry and love notes. It’s cool.

Writing on typewriters is a deceptively simple process–push the button, watch the arm raise to stamp a figure on paper, yes, but also consider from a contemporary perspective that type on paper creates a unique document. It cannot be seen from “behind,” as we’re learning is more and more common with any screen. In this sense typewriting (or handwriting) is private in a way no screen can ever be. This can have profound effects on what we write. And maybe because of this, unique documents are becoming ever more powerful–we’ve heard that currently, a hand-generated letter to an elected official may represent 500 voices, up from our perhaps-outdated but thoroughly fact-checked previous mere you-and-99-others.

Day Schildkret | MorningAltars

Day Schildkret is known internationally for MorningAltars. He has inspired people of all ages from all over the globe to forage, build and pray with MorningAltars earth art.

Day has been captivated by nature and art ever since he was a child and first viewed the work of Andy Goldsworthy. In 2004 and 2005, Day served as the first artist in residence at Easton Mountain gay spiritual retreat center where he created ‘Treeson’ – an art installation displayed for four full seasons on a one mile forest trail.

Day has created his nature-based art installations and altars at venues such as Burning Man 2007, Dance of Liberation NYC 2006/2007, Wilderness Torah’s Passover in the Desert 2010/2011, Sukkot on the Farm 2015, Lightning in a Bottle 2013, Wanderlust Festival 2016, Symbiosis Gathering 2016, as well as countless privately commissioned pieces for life cycle events such as weddings, births, deaths and birthdays.

Day and MorningAltars have recently been featured in Spirituality & Health Magazine’s online and print editions (April/May 2016).


MorningAltars is a daily ritual of foraging local objects found on the earth’s floor. Created from items that can easily be overlooked, MorningAltars are large-scale, impermanent exhibitions made-of feathers, leaves, flowers, bones and more.

Through seven steps of wandering and foraging, clearing, creating, blessing, letting it go and sharing, MorningAltars is a practice that is implemented through art, mindfulness and connection to place.  Its intention is to spark a global movement that inspires people from diverse age groups, nationalities and backgrounds to get outside and make earth altars as a way to make meaning, expression and connection every morning.

The art and teachings of MorningAltars was featured on a North American tour at the 2016 Wanderlust Festival and Symbiosis Gathering.



Regenerative Design Institute Installation

Learn more about Permaculture and the work of the Regenerative Design Institute inside of their beautiful Earth inspired structure.

Regernative Design Institute:


Play it Forward: A Simple Acts of Kindness Game

The GEM Mandala is an interactive art installation that is also a game called “Play it Forward.” Play it Forward generates simple acts of kindness, creates heart connections, promotes the gift economy, teaches sustainability, awakens the spirit of the child, and inspires people to enter into a space of service.

This project is a significant component of Circle of Children’s service work. This tool helps us to educate and engage communities with each other and with the brilliance of the natural world.

To learn more about the GEM Movement and Circle of Children, please visit us online at:



Artists Village: Exhibit Hall


Cheng-Ling Chen | HERliograph

HERliograph is a website that profiles amazing women stories and seeks to light up the heroine in each of us.

Cheng-Ling writes: “When I was a corporate attorney many years ago, I worked with tall, well-bred, smart, Caucasian men. I wasn’t like the status quo. I had worked hard to get my law degree from a top law school, and I was well-liked within my firm and by clients. Still I kept wondering, what would it feel like to be a real lawyer?

When I became a mom, I made a very conscious choice to stay at home with my children. I was fortunate that I could, and every fiber of my being bound me to my babies. Nursing them, carrying them, tending to their every need, I was completely done and undone by motherhood. I remember once again feeling deeply isolated. I saw few moms like me. On the playgrounds, at the grocery store, even at mommy groups, I saw mostly nannies of different ethnicities, a few grandmothers, and very rarely mothers. The women of my stage in life whose friendships I craved to make were elsewhere working hard and forging their careers. I wondered, was I a lesser woman because I could and did spend all my days with my babies?

Having grown up Taiwanese in South America I am no stranger to being an outsider, but it’s still disorienting. I am in a world that is different from what I believe to be true to me, like standing in front of a mirror that reflects a stranger back, jarring each time even if I have come to expect it. I refused to let this mirror erode my sense of self. Instead of accepting the obvious, I looked harder for clearer reflections.

I approached women who were in their own way also going against the grain to stay true to themselves. I asked about their stories. How did they know their authenticity and retain their sovereignty when the world pointed them away from their internal compass? One woman shared with me her struggle with eating disorders and finding her healing path by devoting her life to helping others with mindful eating. Another shared her harrowing childhood growing up with albanism in Africa, congenitally devoid of pigment, abandoned and persecuted, told over and over that she was going to fail, disappear, and die. Mirror, mirror, it lies. She grew up strong and iridescent, and she has founded an organization in Kenya that educates and supports families with albanistic children. Still other women have shared with me about their passions, how their artistry has brought social justice to the world because they didn’t give up or back down in the face of disbelief and ridicule. I found woman after woman, brave, beautiful and authentic in her own way, each heeding her inner voice. Even with loud voices to the contrary everywhere shouting her down, my everyday heroine says with fortitude that it is the world that is distorted, not them.

I created HERliograph to reflect the light of everyday heroines so that through recognizing the beauty in each other we may come to embrace ourselves more clearly. Along the way I have found that amazing stories are everywhere, but you won’t find them looking to the obvious or listening to the loudest. We each have an inner knowing, and when we tune in, it leads us towards our light.”


Mayumi Oda | Thangka Paintings

Mayumi Oda returns to Bioneers with three extraordinary Thanka Paintings.

1) Poliahu- Hawaiian Goddess of Snow.

2) Pele- Hawaiian Goddess of the Volcano

3) Hanuman, Guardian of the World

Xander Weaver-Scull | Ecosystem of Recovery

This piece will be created live during the conference. The imagery will be of animals that were threatened with extinction but have since recovered and have healthy populations.

Xander writes, “I am passionate about creating non-didactic, inspiring artwork of threatened, endangered and recovered species that cannot to speak on their own behalf. Through the use of freehand-drawn and cut stencils, water color and homemade inks from natural pigments, I bring attention to the impact humans are having on the Earth’s other inhabitants.

In a world where fear and apocalyptic framing are widely used to influence people, I create work that is positive, and presents the issue in a non-confrontational manner. This artwork is a way for me to honor living beings and craft something beautiful and healing. I try not to tell my viewers what to think, rather create a moment for reflection.”


Katie Wolf | Paintings and Sculpture

Katie Wolf has been involved with the pursuit of responding to the inner hint though the lens of her own creative output and by engaging others n their creative expression through the arts. She has been called to facilitate these “ways of proceeding” by creating environments that nurture the framing of our lives in a connected and sacred manner.

Her works include paintings, silk screen prints, steel sculptures , fabric arts, mosaic glass works, creation if chapel spaces and a retreat site developed in pristine wildness area of Northern California specifically designed for learning and teaching in nature.


Nye’ Lyn Tho | Natural Heir

“Natural Heir” is a visual pun and nod to the often-controversial move of African Americans, especially women, embracing the natural state of their hair. It does this while mirroring hair and scalp health to environmental health. This series is as much about the environmental consciousness of space as much as it is about the ideologies of a culture being able to take up space socially.

Learn more at:

Terry Oxford | Honey Bee Art

Terry Oxford showcases UrbanBee San Francisco Honeycomb art created by bees from local San Francisco hives.
Terry Oxford is an activist, dissident and beekeeper who believes that all pollinators, insect and bird, need protection from the ravenous pesticide industry. For at least a dozen years, most large-scale commercial tree nurseries have been growing trees with systemic (neonic) pesticides. That’s a lot of poisonous flowers and seeds that bees and birds have been forced to eat.

It’s not a mystery why pollinators and birds are dying. It’s our infrastructure. Terry’s work is to inform and educate people to see trees for what they really are…habitat and food for species far more important than us! We must understand that it is we that can’t exist without nature and not the other way around.

Terry Oxford has practiced beekeeping since 2008. Aware of how bees think, she encourages them to make letters and shapes inside the hive. Using the beeswax letters, she is writing an Alphabet book about human character and traits.

Learn more at:



Helios School students 5th-7th grade | Climate Change Activism Exhibit

This exhibit was developed with fifth to seventh grade students within their 2016 spring expedition titled Rising Seas, Raising Hopes, a deep investigation into climate change and the many faceted attempts to reduce carbon emissions. The exhibit highlights 31 examples of nonviolent methods being used in the climate change movement.

What can force the immense systematic and structural changes that are required to meet the objectives of climate activists and scientists? In May, 2016, climate activists from twenty-four organizations convened for an investigation into the use of Grand Strategy as framed by the Albert Einstein Institution, an organization long dedicate to the research and implementation of nonviolent strategies in fighting dictatorships and other forms of oppression.

Students researched and wrote about contemporary uses of a wide range of nonviolent methods being deployed to slow global warming. This work was developed into the Climate Change Activism Exhibit by using authentic and placeholder artifacts, photos, and writings to highlight 31 of the 198 methods of nonviolent action identified by Albert Einstein Institution.


WEAD (Women’s Environmental Artist Directory) artists showcase artwork with a theme of reciprocity to give back to nature, as well as an interactive piece for viewer’s responses to the environment and social justice.

Laurie Marshall’s Singing Tree Project returns to Bioneers, where the public is invited to paint a leaf with a wish, hope or prayer.


James Nestor | The Click Effect

An immersive Virtual Reality free diving experience that explores the communication of dolphins and giant sperm whales.

Here is a behind-the-scenes making of we did for the New York Times:

Catherine Sieck | Cut Paper

Catherine Sieck is an artist and gardener who is currently living and working at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. Her art practice is in conversation with her work on land. Lush, narrative paper-cuts chronicle the cycles of growth and change that happen both in the landscape and within the body, finding hope and meaning in the synchronicity that emerges.

Since the beginning of this year, she has been marking each month by the making of a new paper-cut—each piece becomes a densely woven portrait of the symbols of a particular time. By tracking both the internal and external landscapes, and honoring what is emerging in each, she hopes to evoke a feeling of reverence, rather than fear, about the wild beauty of their constant changing and regenerating.

Gordon Wood | Painter

Gordon Wood lives in Seattle with his thirteen year old son, Niko, and as an Artist, Designer has completed more than 500 artworks, (mixed medium collages, installations ,and digital art prints). He’s exhibited in galleries and in a diverse selection of museums, art center exhibitions nationally.  Gordon ’ s development and education in the arts includes a BA in Art History from the University of Washington, and study at the Pilchuck School of Glass and Mt. Royal School Graduate School of Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art. In addition, he strives to share and expand his and others creative development through © EvoGe nJou , his creative studio mentoring service. Gordon has also completed commissions to create original images for books of fiction and poetry, journals, and magazines, including two images published in an award-winning article Genome Tome, by Priscilla Long, in The American Scholar.

Artist Statement

Nature – nonlinear, complex and dynamic – is the phenomenal, cognitive, intuitive, and reciprocal ingredient  for  me  as  an  artist.  Essentially this is  the  Generative  Order,  from which  I  become  humble  when  I  try  to  understand,  even  a  small  co rner  of  a  web  of interconnected,  symbiotic  elements  and  relationships,  each  of  which  is inter-  or  intra- dependent on a majority of others in the biosphere and cosmo s.  In my art, I work with the elements of the natural system and rearrange them. I try not to do any harm to the source, while I hope that the objects I create let us see the human-na ture experience in a  compact  and  expansive  form.  Nature is  the  symbiosis  of  the  flux of  chaos,  mystery and organization. Our rational experience of nature is the challenging element. We are the wild cards in the natural deck, put here to test nature ’ s resiliency. We fool ourselves into thinking that we can impose order on a system that nature already has functioning in a flowing existence. Through my art I try to bring myself closer to the source, to make my-self see the cosmos as it is, and to celebrate the energy and mystery in sensuous detail. By doing so, I hope my audience will see it – self in a new, more connected way.  Human art gives us glimpses of the truth that art is nature.

Get a view of all this at


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