The Mojave Native Seed Ball Project

Ten people in the Morongo Basin in the Mojave desert of California were given ten seed balls each containing seeds of 11 native plants and grasses. The participants were then asked to plant the seed balls according to specific instructions, to draw a map of the seed ball locations on their land, the general location of their land in the region, and await the summer monsoon rains. The project encourages participants to simply observe the land around them in a prolonged and thoughtful manner, to notice the natural patterns then record when and where anything sprouts, noting any specific effects on the seed balls such as wind or wildlife. The seed ball recipe has been developed with the Transition Joshua Tree Permaculture Team over the last few years to include all local native seeds and a planting method that has proved itself to be effective. This data gathering and mapping project hopes to further this ancient form of no till gardening to investigate this technique as a viable option for desert land restoration and erosion control in the Mojave Desert region. The data will result in an interactive digital map, drawings, field notebooks, and continuing educational components.

Participants: Cathy Allen, Bob Dornberger, Hans Hansen, Bernard Leibov, Karyl Newman, Stephanie Ritter, Stephanie Smith, Kim Stringfellow, Andrea Zittel


In January of 2014, on a road trip from Mafra, TX to my home in Los Angeles, CA, I dropped off objects to artists throughout the Southwest that I would like to get to know. I approached strangers virtually, friends of friends, and proposed to each person that we get to know one another through the history, translations and conversations around an object for the year of 2014.. a luddite social media sort of thought. The objects are small sculptures that I have made over the last couple of years, bits of pieces that were never realized or finished, a mining of what I call the ‘boneyard pile’ in my studio. Each artist that received this object can do whatever they want to do with it – finish the sculpture, incorporate the piece within one of their own works, throw it away, add to it, destroy it, keep it, write about it…whatever response the object brings up for the receiver.
Along with the initial object, the artists were provided with a history of the object and its make up, as well as photographs of the object in process, and a personal narrative collage, a snapshot of what was going on in my life and studio around the time of producing that object, as well as I can remember. Other photos of that time period, music I may have remembered listening to, books I was reading, travels I was taking, any information that I could dig up was included. The hopes of providing this auxiliary information was to provide a bit of context in order to share a bit of my practice, a way of getting to know someone that is not very often shared, inviting the receiver to perhaps share a bit of their practice, process, and life with me.
The participating artists:
Marfa, TX – Buck Johnson/Camp Bosworth
Truth or Consequences, NM – Olin B. West
Tucson, AZ – Alex Von Bergen
Joshua Tree, CA – Lily Stockman
Los Angeles, CA – Helen Rebekah Garber

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The Lives of Cappadocia Project

The Lives of Cappadocia Project is a detailed ethnographic documentation of the intersection of traditional and modern life of the cave dwellers in the surreal landscape of Cappadocia, Turkey. During the summer of 2011 I lived in the village of Ibrahimpasa while photographing the interiors of volunteers’ cave dwellings to create contemporary portraits of local people through an examination of their living spaces. I also toured ancient cave sites to contrast the modern villagers’ lives with the possible way of life of their ancestors.

The resulting body of work includes drawings, digital collages, writings and panoramic photographs that exist as both interactive, 360 degree views and large scale prints.

A book documenting the project and website with interactive components are in process.. stay tuned!

Lives of Cappadocia blog



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The Berlin Tours – Los Angeles / Miami / Berlin

The Berin Tours series was a collaborative project produced with Kerry Phillips during the summer of 2009 in Berlin, Germany. The documentary “tours”; home tours as well as walking tours of the city, were performed as a collaborative team with the intent of getting to know the city through its public and private spaces while questioning ideas of perception.

The home tours began by visiting flats of Berlin volunteers to document the people through an examination of their objects and belongings. These “portraits” of strangers were created with 8mm films and photographs taken throughout the homes, resulting in dual screen videos where the film version of walking through the home is presented along side of a slide show of detail photographs.

The walking tours of the city were performed and documented photographically to explore issues of differences in perception by each of us while following the same mapped path- we walked each route separately and on different days. The six tours were found in a found tourist book entitled “Berlin; Day by Day.” Berlin’s Best Neighborhood Walks are self guided trips intended to provide the tourist with an insiders view of landmarks and districts of historical interest. The outcome of these walking tours is presented as videos showing each of our photos side by side for the viewer to experience both of our walks simultaneously. The audio component to these videos is the accompanied text provided with the maps read aloud by both of us. Digital collages were also developed from the photographs of the walking tours, resulting in a series of drawings.
Combined, the intent of the project is to question and examine the experience of the “tourist” in both public and private spaces.


Kruezburg Walking Tour on YouTube


S's Flat Home Tour on YouTube

S’s Flat Home Tour on YouTube

The La Fuente de la Vida Project – Los Angeles, CA, United States / Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico

The La Fuente de la Vida project is a collaboration between American and Mexican artists, filmmakers, professors, writers, dance professionals and students. The body of work is comprised of 4 elements: a 3-channel video installation with sound, drawings, a catalogue, and still digital photographs. The video component of the project is comprised of a three channel projection where one of the videos was edited by an American and two were edited by Mexicans.

Beginning in the midst of the Flu epidemic outbreak, the project is an epic story surrounding a civic fountain in downtown Monterrey, Mexico entitled “La Fuente de La Vida” (The Fountain of Life). The monument has fallen from grace in the eyes of the city. To regain its glory the characters from the fountain, Neptune and his nymphs, begin a search for a new location for their monument. By paralleling Mexico’s ‘fall from grace’ in the eyes of the international community – ranging from the ‘Swine’ Flu outbreak and drug cartel infused US border conflict – the project fosters a creative rethinking and examination of cross-cultural currents between Mexico and it’s sibling neighbor nation to the North. Fuente de la Vida serves as a rebuttal to the persistent negative media effluence that has helped perpetuate cultural stigmas and discrimination.

Essay by David Hernandez Casas: English / Spanish
Artist Statement by Aili Schmeltz: English / Spanish
Book of La Fuente de la Vida project from Blurb
List of Collaborators