fig. 44: The Grass is Always Greener
Mixed Media, 1994
© Rhoda London and Christine Baeumler
Rhoda London and Christine Baeumler
The first thing we did was to try to define "watershed": a ridge or stretch of high land dividing the areas drained by different rivers or river systems; an important place of division or transition; a crucial turning point affecting action, opinion, etc.
We will look for what's common and what's different between Minnesota/the Mississippi River and the San Francisco Bay - two distinct regions and ecosystems - and what they might reveal about each other. Is there an implicit comparison between the two watersheds? What is endangered in the same way? How is each water area being used as an economic venue, e.g. how are the water areas being used and/or exploited as entertainment venues?
(from 50-50: an inventory of the Mississippi and the San Francisco Bay, Watersheds exhibition statement, 1998)
Rhoda London received an MFA in sculpture from the California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC), Oakland, California. She studied textiles and screen printing arts at the Pacific Basin School of Textile Arts in Berkeley, California. She has been painting and doing installation art and exhibiting in the Bay Area and New York since the early 80s, and is in several museum collections.
In addition to her own work, she has been collaborating with Christine Baeumler since the early 1990s about issues concerning the environment. Born and raised in New York, she has lived and worked in New York City; Montreal, Canada; Brussels, Belgium; Austin, Texas; and currently in Oakland, California. She teaches privately in her studio, as well as in the Walnut Creek Arts Education system, and works independently with graduate students at CCAC.
Christine Baeumler grew up in Buffalo, New York. She received her BA in Fine Art from Yale University, and an MFA in painting from Indiana University. In 1990 she moved to East Palo Alto, a community with a rich agricultural heritage and existing open space, as well as a high crime rate. Christine spent three years working with a community group that sought to preserve local history and used urban farming for proactive change. She experienced first hand the power and the potential (and complexities) of people working together with a shared vision as a proactive response to urban problems.
It was in the Bay area that Christine met California artist Rhoda London. Together they have created multiömedia installations since 1992. Their collaborations have juxtaposed the increase of scientific information about the environment with the simultaneous degradation of the natural world and the extinction of many of its inhabitants.
Christine relocated to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1994 and continues to explore the intersection of the environment, local history and community. Since 1994, she has worked on projects that engage community efforts to create welcoming places. The transformation of a site into a place involves an intensely collaborative process. The authorship is shared with many individuals who have contributed to the design and implementation of the projects.
The artist is currently working on the Swede Hollow Historical Forest, an ongoing community effort to restore a 22-acre city park to a nature preserve to reveal local history. One component of the project is the creation of an ecological earthwork, a stone circle gathering place with a prairie restoration and oak grove.
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All text © Terri Cohn, Rhoda London and Christine Baeumler.