Third Street Gallery archive: 2018 Exhibitions: Cultivated Ecologies Video Installation by Cynthia Hooper


Humboldt State University Third Street Gallery presents Cultivated Ecologies, an interdisciplinary video and essay project by Cynthia Hooper. The exhibition runs from January 29 through March 4, 2018. Cultivated Ecologies examines the extensively reconfigured network of wetland refuges scattered across California’s Great Central Valley. Though now disconnected and drastically diminished, these wetlands remain ecologically significant, and have been designed to more-or-less successfully coexist amid one of our planet’s most intensively cultivated and astonishingly productive agricultural regions.

These wetland refuges were constructed to remedy the near total destruction of Central Valley wetlands during the region’s historical reclamation for agriculture, and now depend on agricultural infrastructure to survive. The sites are critical stops for millions of migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway, as well as year-round havens for countless local species. Though carefully tended and protected by decades of legislative efforts, these habitats nevertheless face significant challenges—including ongoing competition with agriculture and cities for water, loss of habitat from crop conversion and urban encroachment, persistent regulatory uncertainties, and an increasingly unstable climate.

Cynthia Hooper’s four non-narrative experimental documentary videos patiently depict the graceful and seasonally shifting characteristics of these austere and dramatically mediated habitats. The videos stealthily observe the interactions between refuge wildlife, the infrastructure that supports it, and the human populations that make forays into these novel ecosystems. Accompanying essays in the exhibition describe the historical, hydrological, ecological, and political complexities of these carefully engineered places. The project encompasses state and federal refuges found throughout the Central Valley, including those within the verdant rice-growing regions of the Sacramento Valley, along the extensively re-engineered San Joaquin River basin, and amid the endless industrial-agricultural vistas of the Tulare basin.

In describing her project, Hooper states that these refuges “inhabit a politically and hydrologically shared space, but nevertheless hum with ecological resilience. They are designed for the seemingly paradoxical objectives of both wildlife enjoyment and wildlife hunting, and spatially conflate these sometimes class-divided activities. The sociological complexities built into these refuges mimic our cultural frictions at large,” asserts Hooper, “yet these sites also foster interactions between diverse human communities in addition to those between humans and nature.”

Some of the regions she has explored and filmed include the artificial wetlands of Mexico's Colorado River Delta, the Klamath River dams in California and Oregon, and the built environment of California's Humboldt Bay.  Hooper has exhibited her work nationally and internationally  including exhibitions at the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Los Angeles, Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City, El Centro Cultural Tijuana, the Santa Fe Art Institute, and at Mass MoCA in Massachusetts. She has also been the recipient of grants and residencies, including the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Gunk Foundation, the Headlands Center for the Arts, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program.

Cynthia Hooper resides in Eureka, California where she teaches at College of the Redwoods.  Her videos, essays, and research-based projects examine and interpret infrastructural landscapes. Her detailed investigations patiently capture the incidental, effectual, and emblematic activities that define these complicated places.

HSU Third Street Gallery will host a Gallery Talk by the Artist  on Saturday, February 24 at 3 p.m.  Come meet the artist as she guides you through her exhibition.

Exhibition Schedule and Location
The exhibition, Cultivated Ecologies, will run from January 29 through March 4. The gallery is open Tuesday–Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.  The gallery will hosta public reception for the artists on Saturday, February 3, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., during Eureka Main Street’s Arts Alive Program.   HSU Third Street Gallery will host a Gallery Talk by the Artist  on Saturday, February 24 at 3 p.m.  Come meet the artist as she guides you through her exhibition.  Third Street Gallery is located at 416 Third Street in Eureka, California.  Admission is free for all. Groups are encouraged to call ahead to arrange tours. For more information call (707) 443-6363