Biocultura events are centered around Bio Art and Design. Most events present a topic from both a scientific and artistic point of view. Expect knowledgeable presentations, lively discussion, and sometimes hands-on experiences. Our topics are often messy--literally and figuratively.

Biocultura has also been selected as the official site of LASER Santa Fe by Leonardo, the well-respected non-profit journal of science and art. LASER (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous) is Leonardo/ISAST's international program of evening gatherings that bring artists and scientists together for informal presentations and conversation with an audience. For more information, see Leonardo.info/laser-talks.

September 27: 6-8 PM

The Future of Energy Design Storm

Free! Get tickets here.

The Future Energy Design Storm is a public interactive event designed for participants from diverse disciplines, from engineering and science to architecture and the arts. Based on the Stanford D-School Design Thinking Model, this event will engage participants in discussions about about renewable energy potentials in and around Santa Fe and invite ideas for a more sustainable future. Led by Andrea Polli and Madeline Bolding with participation from UNM students of Computational Sustainability.

Andrea Polli is an artist working at the intersection of art, science and technology whose practice includes media, public interventions, curating and directing, and writing. She is currently a Professor of Art and Ecology with appointments in the College of Fine Arts and School of Engineering at the University of New Mexico. She holds the Mesa Del Sol Endowed Chair of Digital Media and is the founder and director of the Social Media Workgroup research lab. She holds a doctorate in practice-led research from the University of Plymouth and her most recent book is Far Field: Digital Culture, Climate Change and the Poles. Madeline Bolding holds a PhD in genetics from the University of Missouri where she studied rare diseases and gene therapy. During her graduate work she came to love science communication and outreach, so upon moving to New Mexico in early 2017, she began working with Biocultura as an outreach specialist. In this capacity she has enjoyed searching for connections between the worlds of art and science in order to create unique, thoughtful events.

September 28: 6-8 PM

Sonaqua

Free! Get Tickets

Join us for an evening with Scott Kildall and Andrew Erdmann.

Scott will be presenting his investigations over the last several years with transforming data into physical installations and sculptures. With the proposition that data has physical consequences, he will look at other artists and cultures that have physicalized data such as the Inca Quipus and the Marshall Island Stick Charts and tie into a conversation of artifact as social exchange. Finally, he will show his current installation work, Sonaqua, which is an artwork where he sonifies water quality using DIY water sensors.

Andrew will discuss water quality and give information about water use, conservation, the sources of water in Santa Fe. He will paint an overview of the City of Santa Fe’s drinking water system, how it’s managed, and how it interacts with the environment in and around the city.

Scott Kildall is a cross-disciplinary artist who creates art installations that use public data around issues of social justice. The resulting artworks often invite public participation through direct interaction. His current artistic research focuses on water data, which includes water quality, infrastructure and habitable exoplanets. His work has been exhibited internationally at venues including the New York Hall of Science, Transmediale, the Venice Biennale, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the San Jose Museum of Art. He has received fellowships, awards and residencies from organizations including the SETI Institute, ZERO1, Santa Fe Art Institute, Impakt Works, Autodesk, Recology San Francisco, Turbulence.org, Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, Kala Art Institute and The Banff Centre for the Arts. Scott resides in San Francisco. www.kildall.com @kildall

Andrew Erdmann is a Water Resources Coordinator with the City of Santa Fe’s Water Division. Working in this capacity, Andrew has been involved in many large-scale water issues including the management of San Juan-Chama project water, watershed restoration and management, water rights permitting, and planning for the impacts of climate change on future water availability. Prior to his work in municipal water management at the City of Santa Fe, Andrew held other positions in the water field including in the fisheries biology program for the US Forest Service and in water rights adjudication and administration at the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer.

Past Events

August 13: 12-3PM

Fermented Freedom: Cultures of Preservation

See Pictures

Please join us for a Fermented Freedom workshop with New York bio-artist Moira Williams Sunday, August 13 from 12-3 pm. We will learn how to wrangle wild yeast to make several fermented drinks. Including our own individual scoby– a microbial biofilm that creates kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented drink loaded with local microbe, microbes that in turn, aid our microbiome. We will also discuss the microbiome and its role, look at several biofilms and yeasts through a microscope, swab biofilms, learn about additional fermented foods and local plants to add to our fermented treat.

If you have a scoby bring it along for swapping, swabbing and/or a check up!

Limited to 20 people

Snacks will be provided; snacks to share are welcome too!

Please wear cozy kitchen working clothes and shoes.

More information: Wild yeasts swirl around us in every part of the world. Yet, wild yeasts are curiously invisible as they seamlessly interconnect with the environment and us. Until we feed them…

Then a biofilm, or Scoby, is born, supporting a diverse multitude of living “cultures!”

Wild yeast is unique to place and environment. Living “cultures” preserve place and are at times what makes a region known for its fermented foods, drinks and cultural identity. Although we have lived with wild yeasts for centuries, very little identification of yeast and bacterial species found in scobys has been documented.

Many kombucha brewers exchange their biofilms between one another. These trades across the world raise questions about the nature of biolfilms, about biogeography, selection and evolution. Can we consider kombucha, kombucha biofilms, perhaps all wild yeast fermentation, as living heritage sites? Can living “cultures“ lead us to collectively rethink preservation along with its signs, sites and language? Can these living “cultures” reveal a positive path to the environment’s health and subsequently our own?

Moira Williams’ co-creative practice weaves together performance, science, food, sound and installation to combine diverse bodies of knowledge about our environment and its complex ecology teeming with many forms of life and beliefs to ask: “How do we come to know what it is we know? She invites people to reconfigure familiar objects and social events to offer multiple opportunities for building our social imagination and questioning systems of power and influence. For Moira participation is not about homogeneity it is in service of human connections and our connections to our world: to participate is to generate empathy and vitality. Moira is currently an artist in residence at the Santa Fe Art Institute, working with biofilms, vernal puddles and creating poop postcards.

August 11: 9am-5 PM

STEAM Communicators

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Couldn't make it? Future dates are TBD

Like any skill, communication is greatly improved by thinking creatively about the process, planning ahead, and practicing often. This is especially important for those interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) because it is often difficult to explain the complexity or importance of the work. Our STEAM Communicators program offers training and networking opportunities to help participants develop their skills communicating with audiences of all ages.

Led by experienced science educators Liz Martineau and Gordon McDonough, STEAM Communicators practice techniques developed by Portal to the Public (PoP). This program is based on current research looking at the ways we learn through formal and informal education. PoP is supported by the National Science Foundation through their efforts to establish best-practices in science education and promote meaningful interactions between local experts and the public. For more information click here.

Images by Jerzy Rose and Mandy Marksteiner

June 22: 6-8PM

Frances Whitehead and Prisca Tiasse

Biocultura welcomes Chicago-based Civic Practice Artist Frances Whitehead and Los Alamos-based Scientist and Biodidact Creator Prisca Tiasse in conversation about Fruit Futures.

Fruit Futures takes its name from Whitehead's series of linked, civic, agri+cultural projects that initiate a new small fruit cultures and economies in Gary Indiana, with multipurpose landscapes that afford, engage and educate the public. Repurposing available land, these projects include: The Remediation Arboretum, which investigates how fruiting trees and shrubs can reboot urban soils; The Climate Corridor, a linear planting of ornamental flowering trees, which beautifies the streetscape, transforming it into a seasonal, place-based, climate visualization experience; and The Community Lab Orchard, where citizen scientists explore and demonstrate the culture of favorite and forgotten small fruits for a resilient foodshed.

Frances Whitehead is a civic practice artist bringing the methods, mindsets, and strategies of contemporary art practice to the process of shaping the future city. Connecting emerging art practices, the discourses around culturally informed sustainability, and new concepts of heritage and remediation, she develops strategies to deploy the knowledge of artists as change agents, asking, What do Artists Know? A series of linked civic initiatives include The Embedded Artist Project with the City of Chicago, SLOW Cleanup, a culturally driven phytoremediation program for abandoned gas stations, climate-monitoring plantings throughout the USA and Europe, and an urban agriculture plan with the City of Lima, Peru. Whitehead was the Lead Artist for The 606, a rail infrastructure adaptive reuse project in Chicago and continues to advise on the citizen science climate observation program as part of the art program. Whitehead is Professor of Sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she contributes to the Architecture program through courses in experimental urban practices.

Prisca Tiasse's skills and areas of expertise include molecular genetics, biochemistry and microbiology. She first came to Los Alamos as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and then decided to carry out her passion for science by starting New Mexico's first community biotech lab with the mission to provide hands-on biotechnology education for all. A molecular biologist with a broad research experience, her research first focused on Neurobiology and the regulation of gene expression in the tobacco hornworm. She used a number of molecular genetics and biochemical tools to uncover novel genes and their function in the bacterium, Vibrio cholerae. Her expertise in genetic engineering and fatty acid biosynthesis led her back to eukaryotes, to help genetically engineer algae strains for better biofuel production, as a postdoctoral research scientist. Tiasse also has a passion for science education...for all! She believes that the discipline, critical thinking, persistence and creativity required for good scientific research is an excellent basis for any education, whether one becomes a scientist or not.

Sleeping bags for Cat nap event at Biocultura Santa Fe

May 27: 8-10PM

SleepWalks: a Catnap

SleepWalks: A Catnap is an evening of relaxation and lucid dreaming that aims to awaken your creativity and dreams.

You spend about one-third of your life sleeping and dreaming, yet scientists still don't know exactly why. In an average lifespan of 77 years that is 25 years of our lives. Bring your sleeping bags, pillows and security blankets to Biocultura for a 'catnap' with sound artist Andrea Williams.

Share mugwort tea, essential oils, pb&j star-shaped sandwiches, and milk and cookies before a 45-minute 'Catnap' version of Williams' project, SleepWalks, a live electronic music performance exploring the impact of sound on dreams by playing to a sleeping audience who then journal about their experience. Williams will cull sounds from field recordings, live samples of the room resonance, and various electronically processed acoustic instruments, to create an extended musical composition while you are encouraged to sleep in the performance space.

The goal of this long-term project is to compose engaging and collaborative soundwalks for dreamers; to compose soundwalk experiences in participants' dreams. Sleepwalks has been performed at numerous venues including Issue Project Room, NYC; Diapason Gallery, NYC; and Mills College, Oakland, CA as part of The Deep Listening Institute's Dream Festival. SleepWalks members include: musicians, Andrea Williams and Lee Pembleton and scientist, Todd Anderson. Most recently, SleepWalks received a NYSCA grant to perform SleepWalks: The Body of Dreams (with Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company), a multimedia dance performance created from the collaborative dreams of SleepWalks participants.

Boy with greenhouse carrot ad for Earth Optimism

April 23: 5-7:30PM

Earth Optimism Santa Fe


Earth Optimism Santa Fe connects globally and acts locally to feature the work of artists, students and scientists responding to environmental challenges and opportunities. We are a sister event of Earth Optimism, a global program coordinated by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC and connected to the UNM Art & Ecology's Decolonizing Nature Conference. Our aim is to celebrate the systems that keep our soil (and us) healthy.

Featuring electronics pioneer Leah Beuchley, LA-based bio artist Mick Lorusso in a collaboration with Joel Ong ,Marfa-based artist Elise Sibley Chandler, biologist Renee Bronwyn Johansen and bio art and design students Kaitlin Bryson and Sabrina Islam. The event will also mark the launch of a work by Navajo Nation-based photo muralist and member of the Justseeds collective Chip Thomas.

Presenter Bios and Projects:

Leah Buechley presents Burn Quilt: In all human cultures, rituals that employ fire provide a means to indulge rage and grief while constructing a path towards renewal. This project invites us to participate in a quiet personal ceremony that blends technology, fire, water, and earth. Buechley is a designer, engineer, and educator whose work explores intersections and juxtapositions–of “high” and “low” technologies, new and ancient materials, and masculine and feminine making traditions. Her inventions include the LilyPad Arduino toolkit. From 2009-2014, she was a professor at the MIT Media Lab where she founded and directed the High-Low Tech group. Her work has been exhibited internationally in venues including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Ars Electronica Festival, and the Exploratorium.

Mick Lorusso and Joel Ong, have created windows into the microbial world, where dirt samples from the regions incubate and breed curated microbiomes. Interactive elements perturb the dust samples, further revealing narratives and metaphors of environmental disruptions at a global scale, providing the context for a uniquely microbial perspective of the world. Mick Lorusso is a cross-disciplinary artist who interweaves musings on molecules, cells, societies, and environments. With early training in microbiology and education in art, he is a research fellow at the UCLA Art|Sci Center and an instructor for the Sci|Art Nanolab. Mick will present collaborative work with Joel Ong, Assistant Professor in Computational Arts at York University, Toronto., an alumni of SymbioticA and artist with the UCLA ArtSci Collective. Note: Each artist is 100 trillion bacterial cells and 37 trillion human cells with a variation of 53% over the population of standard 70kg males. They are composed of more than 10000 microbial species that form interspecies ecologies of microbiota.

GROUNDBREAKING DISCOVERY OF MUNDANE SUBTERRANEAN SEWER SYSTEM! While repairing the sewage drain in front of Biocultura, Elise Sibley Chandler uncovered a complex network of pipes penetrating the building. Subterranean infrastructure is exposed like arteries of a body prepared for surgery. As a hybrid conceptual transmedia artist/anthropologist, she is concerned with answering the question; how does our phenomenological experience of networks like pipes influence water and resource consumption and everyday behavior? Elise Sibley Chandler received baccalaureate degrees in both Studio Art and Anthropology with a certificate in Native American and Indigenous Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Her work has been featured in Austin and Marfa, Texas, Aspen, Colorado, and as a Water Rights Resident at the Santa Fe Art Institute in New Mexico.

Renee Bronwyn Johansen is an early career researcher specializing in mycology. She uses genetic techniques to investigate microbial ecology and biogeography and is experienced in all aspects of research project management including development, logistics and budget management. Her specific skills include field trip planning and execution (on both a local and international scale), fungal culturing, DNA sequencing (including next generation sequencing), phylogenetics, bioinformatics and public communication of science.

Mycorrhizal fungi are Earth’s nervous system, but they are not a Robbin Hood of the soil; rather, they act as mutually-beneficial symbionts. In desert ecosystems, where resources are limited above- and below ground, mycorrhizal fungi are critical in the continuation of life. Without their micro-highway, many desert plants (relied upon by other flora and fauna) would cease to exist. In effect, mycorrhizal fungi keep water and nutrients in the ground, and food in bellies. They support us all. Artist Kaitlin Bryson has researched this fungal community for many years since working as an organic farmer. As an artist, she draws comparisons to these hidden lives as a support system, to that of a tapestry or weaving. Mycorrhizal fungi have a woven history, permeating through our everyday lives. Her cacti weavings are one approach to expressing these phenomena.

What if the flora that we thrive alongside with takes the conductor's baton for symphonic composition? With a terrarium set-up comprising a basic forest floor landscape and digital technology for data transformation, Sabrina Islam aims to provide an instrumental "voice" to the players within the ecosystem of the terrarium in the composition of an organic, symphonic research project. called Composing Symphonies from a Closed-system Terrarium. Sabrina is currently an undergraduate student at the University of New Mexico in the pursuit of a Bachelor’s of Science in Biochemistry, with interests in public health, biomedicine, and art as a therapeutic bridge between worlds.

Mural by Chip Thomas, photographer, public artist, activist and physician who has been working between Monument Valley and The Grand Canyon on the Navajo nation since 1987. There, he coordinates the Painted Desert Project – a community building exchange which manifests as a constellation of murals across the Navajo Nation painted by artists from all over the rez + the world. These murals aim to reflect love and appreciation of the rich history shared by the Navajo people back to Navajo people. As a member of the Justseeds Artists Co-operative he appreciates the opportunity to be part of a community of like-minded, socially engaged artists. You can find his large scale photographs pasted on the roadside, on the sides of houses in the northern Arizona desert, on the graphics of the Peoples Climate March, climateprints.org, Justseeds and 350.org carbon emissions campaign material. Image by Chip Thomas

Shadows on a tipi

April 13, 6-8PM:

Lakota Cosmology Meets Particle Physics: Converging Worldviews

See the video


Lakota Cosmology meets Particle Physics: Converging Worldviews, is an interdisciplinary collaboration that investigates native science, western science and the arts as parallel ‘ways of knowing’ and understanding our place in the universe. Only through open dialogue and interdisciplinary exchange can we begin to move toward a new worldview; One that combines the advances of the scientific method and technological innovations with native science as a life-sustaining ecology that is participatory and in balance with nature. Biocultura hosts a presentation by the team. This project is in partnership with ATLAS Experiment at CERN and Quarknet, whom provide virtual and real visits with physicists and the latest research to share with students.

Team Bios

Steve Tamayo draws upon his family history as a member of the Sicangu Lakota tribe. His fine arts education (BFA from Singe Gleska University), along with his cultural upbringing, have shaped him as an artist, historian, storyteller and dancer. Steve provides activities during his residencies that include art and regalia making, drumming, powwow dance demonstrations and lectures on the history, symbolism and meaning behind the Native customs and traditions.

Steve Goldfarb is a physicist from the University of Melbourne, working on the ATLAS Experiment at CERN. He is active in education and outreach, webmaster for the ATLAS public web pages, co-chair of the International Particle Physics Outreach Group, on-site coordinator of the REU Summer Student and Research Semester Abroad programs for American undergraduates at CERN, and advisory board member for Quarknet.

Greg Cajete is a Native American educator whose work is dedicated to honoring the foundations of indigenous knowledge in education. Dr. Cajete is a Tewa Indian from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico. He has served as a New Mexico Humanities scholar in ethno botany of Northern New Mexico and as a member of the New Mexico Arts Commission. Dr. Cajete has authored five books: “Look to the Mountain: An Ecology of Indigenous Education,” (Kivaki Press, 1994); “Ignite the Sparkle: An Indigenous Science Education Curriculum Model”, (Kivaki Press, 1999); “Spirit of the Game: Indigenous Wellsprings (2004) ,” “A People’s Ecology: Explorations in Sustainable Living,” and “Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence” (Clearlight Publishers, 1999 and 2000).

Agnes Chavez is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and social entrepreneur working at the intersection of art, science, technology and social practice. She is founder of the STEMarts Lab, whose mission is to design youth workshops that combine new media art and STEM to empower and inspire youth. She is Co-Director of The Paseo, an outdoor participatory art festival in Taos NM, that transforms and empowers their rural community through art. Chavez has won numerous awards including the renowned “Educational Innovation in the Americas” (INELAM) award in 2006, and the New Mexico Women in Technology Award in 2011. In her art, Chavez experiments with data visualization, sound and projection art to create participatory experiences that explore our relationship with nature and technology to inspire peaceful and sustainable integration.