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Climate Change and the Forest (Real, Imaginary and Virtual)

June 13 @ 12:00 pm 2:00 pm EDT

Climate Change and the Forest  (Real, Imaginary and Virtual) will focus on current research exploration by world renowned scientists joined by artists, and emerging scholars. Key researchers will present on related topics:Art-making with research combining the environmental sciences is the focus for Kathleen Vaughan’s (Concordia) St Lawrence River project; Gisèle Trudel (UQÀM) will present on the effect of climate change on soils and forests; Leigh Joseph (PhD UdeM) will present on revitalizing harvesting and other Indigenous land-based practices as acts of radical resurgence and resistance; and Yves Mayrand, retired lawyer-legal researcher) will present on the continuing failure to permanently protect old growth forest stands in British Columbia; and  Shelley Ouellet (MFA Concordia) will focus on her art project with  twenty-one sculptural tents titled, To Build a Nation, making an inquiry around  “Canadian” identity (Concordia).


  • KathleenVaughan (Concordia)
  • Gisèle Trudel (UQÀM)
  • Yves Mayrand (researcher, retired lawyer)
  • Shelley Ouellet (MFA Alumni Concordia)
  • Leigh Joseph/Styawat (PhD UdeM)
  • Natasha Lavdovsky (MFA Concordia)

Bios and talk descriptions

Kathleen Vaughan (Professor, Art Education, Concordia University) is an artist and researcher who works across multiple media and disciplines to explore layered and complex environmental and social issues. She grew up in Montreal at a time when raw sewage was still dumped in the St. Lawrence: oh wait, that still happens today! Motivated by her love for our beautiful planet and the Other-than-humans who live here, and her desire to mentor the young artist-researchers with whom she works as Concordia University Tier 1 Research Chair in Art + Education for Sustainable and Just Futures and Professor of Art Education, she creates work that has been exhibited in museums and galleries in Canada, Latvia, Iceland, Norway, and the Netherlands.

Talk Description 

Walk in the Water to Learn With the St. Lawrence: The Potential and Limitations of an Artist’s Interdisciplinary Place-based Mapping and Methods Can interdisciplinary artworks help deepen our relationship with and stewardship of the St. Lawrence River, which runs alongside Montreal in its 1200 kilometre trajectory from Lake Ontario to the Atlantic? Perhaps. I address the question by profiling my completed and in-progress studio and community-based artworks: Walk in the Water, an interactive talking textile and linked audio walk of two centuries of human interventions in the Pointe-St-Charles shoreline, and Learning With the St. Lawrence, an on-going studio- and community-based collaboration which explores River realities via environmental histories as well as contemporary input from scientists and concerned citizens. I ponder my hopes and doubts, and my own need to ‘do something’ in the face of the River’s water quality degradation, habitat loss and endangerment of species, and my own and others’ ecological grief.

Yves Mayrand is a Canadian citizen residing on Lekwungen traditional territory (Victoria, BC). He holds a degree in law from Université de Montréal (LL.L.) and a degree in business administration from Concordia University (M.B.A.). His January 30, 2020 submission to British Columbia’s Old Growth Strategic Review Panel (Old Growth Forest Management in British Columbia: Time for a Paradigm Shift) is publicly available at https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/forestry/managing-our-forest-resources/old-growth-forests/og-submissions.

Talk Description 

“Forest Resource Management in British Columbia and Old Growth Protection: Why A New Paradigm Is Necessary Noq” will address issues that include the industrial exploitation and use of forest resources on Crown land, the conflicting values in their use under the present forestry system, and the continuing failure to permanently protect old growth forest stands in British Columbia.

Gisèle Trudel (Professor, École des arts visuels et médiatiques, UQAM) is an artist. She works under the name Ælab since 1996, an artist research unit co-founded with Stéphane Claude, who is a composer and sound engineer, and Head of Audio Research at OBORO. Ælab’s commitment to collaboration and creative circulation of approaches and ideas are ways of thinking and doing that try to bridge different methods of inquiry. Their process-oriented investigations creatively engage art and technology as intertwined with philosophy. Dr. Trudel is a research member of Hexagram. She holds the Canada Research Chair MÉDIANE in Arts, Ecotechnologies of Practice and Climate Change (2020-2025). Websites : aelab.com ; mediane.uqam.ca

Talk Description 

Presentation and discussion about the processes and outcomes of the first outdoor public art installation of the Canada Research Chair MÉDIANE in Arts, Ecotechnologies of Practice and Climate Change, presented in July 2021 near to the Maison de l’arbre, Espace pour la vie, Jardin botanique, Montréal.

The Chair offers a space for creation and dialogue to promote the circulation of ideas and actions between the arts, sciences and communities. The Chair explores, artistically and in a public space, data from the SmartForests research program led at the University of Quebec in Montreal by forest ecologist Daniel Kneeshaw, a pan-Canadian scientific network documenting climate variations on the waters, soils and forests of Canada. https://mediane.uqam.ca/a-propos-about/quoi-what/mission-orientations/ 

Shelley Ouellet  (MFA alumni, Concordia University) is researching in Fibres and Material Practices. In her work, Ouellet looks at how representations of landscape have been and are used in the building and branding of contemporary Canadian identity. Connecting political, economic, military and art historical research, Ouellet analyzes post-war cultural policies that serve to reinforce twentieth century colonialism and Canadian nationalism in the interest of capitalist expansion and unfettered resource extraction. 

Talk Description 

Her most recent installation, Slick Vistas, is a collection of machine-embroidered landscapes depicting infamous sites impacting the environment through resource extraction and refining. She designs embroideries based on images gathered from various sources including government and corporate websites, stock photography and currency. She selects source images that utilize tropes of traditional landscape painting in an attempt to greenwash these sites and undermines such efforts through formal and material choices in her reproductions.

Leigh Joseph/Styawat, from the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) First Nation, is an ethnobotanist, researcher and entrepreneur. Leigh’s research and community-based work contributes to cultural renewal and resurgence in connection to Indigenous plant knowledge and relationships. Joseph has worked as an ethnobotanist with several Indigenous communities in the regions now known as British Columbia and the Yukon. Her work focuses on contributing to the renewal of Indigenous plant knowledge and the healing that comes from reconnecting to ancestral plant knowledge and land-based experiences. Joseph is a PhD student in ethnobotany with Dr. Darcy Mathews and Dr. Alain Cuerrier (Université de Montréal).

Talk Description 

Gathering Medicine: A sḵwx̱wú7mesh Perspective on the Role of Culturally Important Plants in Indigenous Resurgence and Living in Reciprocity with the Land.

Revitalizing harvesting and other Indigenous land-based practices are acts of radical resurgence and resistance. The presence of Indigenous People spending time on the land in order to nourish and strengthen themselves through ancestral harvesting practices is a political act. These culturally significant systems of knowledge and practice are in direct opposition to historical and ongoing colonial attempts to dispossess Indigenous peoples of their cultural connections to the land. Indigenous People in North America have undergone catastrophic changes in diet, land access and related practices, including cultivating and harvesting plants to support health and wellbeing. Recognizing and understanding the impacts and implications of colonization on land-based knowledge and relationships is fundamental to carrying out meaningful work within Indigenous communities in the field of ethnobotany and botany more broadly. As researchers working with Indigenous communities on plant-related projects it is essential to understand the history, impacts and ongoing struggles related to colonization in North America in order to contribute positively to the communities we work with. Cultural interrelationships between people and plants have much to teach us about living in reciprocal, respectful and sustainable ways with our natural environments.

Natasha Lavdovsky is a neurodivergent settler artist & amateur lichenologist, who grew up in traditional Tsawout First Nations unceded Territory (on so-called Vancouver Island).  In 2009 Natasha obtained a bachelor’s degree in studio art and art history from Princeton University where she/they also studied geology, oceanography and environmental studies. Since 2011, she has been committed to deepening their understanding of anti-colonial perspectives and environmental stewardship, which greatly informs her ecologically oriented work in video, performance, installation, textiles and sculpture. Natasha recently completed an MFA in Intermedia Studio Art remotely through Concordia University while living beside active logging sites in Pacheedaht Territory. 

Talk Description 

Natasha’s talk titled, Practicing Ecological Reciprocity as Artistic Intervention, focuses on the evolution of her recent work which intentionally overlaps ecology, art, and activism. Motivated by a sense of urgency regarding climate chaos and the biodiversity crisis, Natasha’s interventions are remedies for her own ecological grief as well as contributions to environmental healing. Grounded in her earth science academic background and her dedication to respecting Indigenous Territorial Rights, Natasha’s work questions our roles as humans within the biosphere.

4th Space

1400 Maisonneuve Blvd W
Montreal, Quebec H3G 1M8 Canada
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