Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Accidental Zen View of Alignment

Alignment, 2014, Jonee Kulman Brigham, Full Spring Studio.

Today our contractors cut a big hole in the front of our house to install a new door which includes new sidelights. While our home remodel is not part of Full Spring Studio work, the surprise view created by the new door is.

As I walked through the hall from our future dining room to the foyer, I discovered that the left sidelight of the front door is exactly lined up to frame the utility pole in our front yard.

This might cause some homeowners to be disappointed in a ruined view, but for me, it was a gift. "How lucky!" I thought. I had photographed that utility pole many times, including it in an artists' book called "Electric Forest" and I have written poetry odes to its duality of technology and nature - carrying all these jumble of wires overhead, but made from a tree.

I'd been wanting to find a way to connect to it like I have with other utilities in the front yard. For the water and gas lines below, I created brick ground markings that honor our connection via infrastructure to the wider world of resources, -- and of course impacts. But the utility pole, seemed to need a vertical, rather than horizontal response.

And then today, by accident, a new way to remember our electric, and communication interconnectedness was revealed. A happy accident of underlying alignment.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Opening, Closing, Ongoing

There's been so much going on lately it has been difficult to concentrate on one area of reflection for Full Spring Flow, so I'll just touch on some highlights from the several things happening in May and June.

Photo: John Schuerman
Saturday, May 17th was the Aqua per Capita Event at Bloomington Theatre and Art Center - an outdoor participatory theater workshop exploring the relationship of population to water use and carrying capacity. It was wonderful to collaborate with Climb Theater, John Crampton of the Bush Lake Chapter Izaak Walton League of America, the league's volunteers, musicians John Tallaksen and Linda Olson, as well as the many others that supported the event. Photographs and "ceremonial" artifacts from the event are now on display at the Fruitful and Multiplying exhibit, curated by John Schuerman, at the Minneapolis Central Library and running June 6-July 31, with an opening reception June 12 at 6-8.

The exhibit "River-Wash at Little Mekong: Selected Views" has been at Asian Economic Development Association since February 18 through Friday, June 13. The exhibit gives a glimpse into a participatory public art project in Little Mekong that took place Fall 2013. This weekend, on June 14th the exhibit will be part of the outdoor gallery at Little Mekong's new Night Market, timed to coincide with the opening of the Green Line.

Children's Nest Egg was included in St. Louis Park Magazine's June 2014 issue in an article, "The Art of Community" by Maggie Soucheray Sonnek about public art in St. Louis Park.

In the Earth Systems Journey area of Full Spring Studio, a new project has kicked off: I'll be working with River's Edge Academy Charter Environmental High School to collaborate on an Earth Systems Journey of water through their school. This project is many faceted and supported by many partners. Some of the planning and development was done during my time as a Buckman Fellow this last year. Institute on the Environment at the U of MN is providing Seed funding as part of my Resident Fellowship there. And the project will be one of my focus areas this coming year as a Visiting Scholar in the Art Education Department at the U of MN College of Education and Human Development. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Aqua per Capita Website Launches

What is our share of water? (Our aqua per capita?) While water is a renewable resource, fresh water is available to the extent we work within natural cycles of replenishment. Already in the water-abundant state of Minnesota, there are overdraws of water from our aquifers and water pollution issues. How can we address these issues now and how will we address them as we grow-- and how much should we grow and where? These questions inspire the project, Aqua per Capita, an outdoor, participatory theater workshop exploring the relationship of population to water use and carrying capacity.

Visit the website for more information at
And please save the date  for this free public event:
Aqua per Capita One performance:
Saturday, May 17th, 2014*
1-4 pm
Outdoor Amphitheater (and surrounds)
Bloomington Theatre and Art Center
1800 W Old Shakopee Rd
Bloomington, MN 55431

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Earth Systems Journey

Earth Systems Journey* (ESJ) is a curriculum framework for art-led, experiential, place-based environmental education about environmental flows, (such as water, air, energy or material) through the school building and grounds. ESJ is an approach that teaches ecological and environmental content, principles, analysis and decision skills in way that shows how human-engineered systems are integrated with natural systems. At its core, the design of an Earth Systems Journey is to make a special journey starting from a place of personal experience, following a flow of interest to its source and destination, as far as you can, so that when you return to where you started, your view of that place and its flows is transformed by knowing the larger story that runs through it and the places, and people and natural elements that live in relation to it. What makes the journey “special” is its composition as a transformative journey paying attention to props, interactive and expressive activities, participatory storytelling, and time to reflect and integrate the experience into a personal story. By using the natural learning form of story, complex systems can be made both engaging, and comprehensible. (*Earth Systems Journey was formerly called “Systems Journey.”)

What does it look like?

If you've seen the Downstream/Upstream Project, that is an example. In fact, it is the project that incubated the Earth Systems Journey model. Is it art or education? Well, it is both, but since I'm doing more work in this area I realized that it would be helpful to articulate these two areas of my practice: Environmental Art, which I practice in Full Spring Studio, and Art-led Environmental Education, which I'll practice under "Earth Systems Journey," - a part of Full Spring Studio. Both types of work draw from the same areas of interest, but ESJ is using art in a different, more instrumental way toward more specific goals about education.


It has been said we need “a new story” of the earth and our place in it to move toward sustainability. Concepts of interdependence and interconnection are fundamental to sustainability, but hard to comprehend in a culture still designed around individual independence. An Earth Systems Journey, such as the Downstream/ Upstream project, responds to this need. ESJ is designed to instill a sense of “experiential integration” between participants, their school, and the larger social, technological and natural systems that bring water, energy and materials to their school to support their daily life. 


Next Steps

I am in the process of developing a website for Earth Systems Journey. Meanwhile, if you go to the Downstream/Upstream project site, you'll find some description of ESJ (which was called "Systems Journey" at the time of that project.) If you are interested in one at your school or organization, I'd be glad to talk to you about it. An Earth Systems Journey can range from several day activities that stay on the school grounds, to a several-week learning theme with field trips (like Downstream/Upstream), to an organizing theme for an entire school year with many field trips like what is in planning stages now for some pilot projects.

I am also a Research Fellow at the University of Minnesota, Center for Sustainable Building Research, and I am collaborating with other researchers and with schools on grant proposals to further pilot the Earth Systems Journey Framework and evaluate its effectiveness.

If you'd like to get updates on Earth Systems Journey, please let me know at