Groundings: Care and Climate Justice (Emily Johnson, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Courtney Desiree Morris, Sarah Rosalena)

Co-Curated by Sarah Hamill and Izzy Lockhart, with Janine Ryan and Nina Serrano '25
March 26, 2024   -   May 12, 2024

Wall Texts written by Sarah Hamill’s Fall 2023 Sarah Lawrence seminar.

Opening reception and roundtable on March 26, 5:30-8:30 pm.


To care – as labor, as ethic, as the quite unglamorous, everyday reproduction of life – is critically undervalued and unrecognized. Care often only becomes visible, to its beneficiaries at least, in moments of crisis when care is found to be lacking, or stretched. Put this way, climate crisis can be read in terms of a planetary care crisis, exposing a systematic devaluation of care in the past century and the generation of unfathomable care needs in this one. 

Groundings insists on care as a slow, attentive, relational foundation for climate action, climate adaptation, and energy transition. Against the urgency and presentism that tends to dominate climate discourse, Groundings is rooted in the radical care traditions of those who have long endured environmental crisis on this continent, now centuries deep into settler colonialism and racial capitalism. Climate action divorced from an understanding of, and resistance to, ongoing injustice is nothing but business as usual, albeit washed “green” or “zero-carbon.” 

The artists in this room invoke care as a form of grief and remembrance, slowness, attention and refusal, expansive imagination and speculative worldmaking. In works that are communal and collaborative, they model forms of interconnectedness, pleasure, and kinship. In response to violent pasts and presents, they imagine and prefigure diverse visions of Indigenous, Black, and Brown futurity. Across media and from a particular place and experience, these artists explore possibility and becoming, which loosens the grip that despair and anxiety have on us as dominant moods of the Anthropocene. Care is more than collective survival, more than resistance; it is the necessary relational infrastructure for collective flourishing.  


Emily Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. She is a land and water protector and an organizer for justice, sovereignty and well-being. Emily is a Bessie Award-winning choreographer, Guggenheim, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, and United States Artists Fellow, and recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award. She is based in Lenapehoking / New York City. Emily is of the Yup’ik Nation, and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as portals and care processions, they engage audienceship within and through space, time, and environment — interacting with a place’s architecture, peoples, history and role in building futures. Emily is trying to make a world where performance is part of life; where performance is an integral part of our connection to each other, our environment, our stories, our past, present and future.

Her choreography and gatherings have been presented across what is currently called the United States and Australia. Her large-scale project, Then a Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing at Stars is an all-night outdoor performance gathering taking place amongst 84 community-hand-made quilts. It premiered in Lenapehoking (NYC) in 2017, and was presented in Zhigaagoong (Chicago) in 2019. She choreographed the Santa Fe Opera production of Doctor Atomic, directed by Peter Sellars in 2018. Her new work Being Future Being, premiered on Tongva Land in Los Angeles in 2022. Emily’s writing has been published and commissioned by The Open Society University Network’s Center for Human Rights and the Arts, ArtsLink Australia, unMagazine, Dance Research Journal (University of Cambridge Press); SFMOMA; Transmotion Journal, University of Kent; Movement Research Journal; Pew Center for Arts and Heritage; and the compilation Imagined Theaters (Routledge), edited by Daniel Sack. Emily hosts monthly ceremonial fires on Mannahatta in partnership with Abrons Arts Center and Karyn Recollet. She was the Pueblo Opera Cultural Council Diplomat at Santa Fe Opera 2018-2020, and a lead organizer of First Nations Dialogues. She was a co-compiler of the documents, Creating New Futures: Guidelines for Ethics and Equity in the Performing Arts and Notes for Equitable Funding, was a member of Creative Time’s inaugural Think Tank, and serves as a working consortium member for First Nations Performing Arts.


Cannupa Hanska Luger is a New Mexico based multidisciplinary artist creating monumental installations, sculpture and performance to communicate urgent stories of 21st Century Indigeneity. Incorporating ceramics, steel, fiber, video and repurposed materials, Luger activates speculative fiction, engages in land-based actions of repair and practices empathetic response through social collaboration. Born on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, Luger is an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of Fort Berthold and is Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara and Lakota. Luger combines critical cultural analysis with dedication and respect for the diverse materials, environments, and communities he engages. His bold visual storytelling presents new ways of seeing our collective humanity while foregrounding an Indigenous worldview. Luger is a 2023 SOROS Arts Fellow, a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow, a recipient of a 2021 United States Artists Fellowship Award for Craft and was named a 2021 GRIST Fixer. He is a 2020 Creative Capital Fellow, a 2020 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow, and the recipient of the Museum of Arts and Design’s 2018 inaugural Burke Prize, among others. Luger has exhibited nationally and internationally including at The National Gallery of Art, DC, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gardiner Museum, Toronto, Kunsthal KAdE, Netherlands, Art Gallery of Alberta, Canada, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Arkansas, and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Georgia, among others. Luger holds a BFA in studio arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts and is represented by Garth Greenan Gallery in New York. Notable works by Luger include Sweet Land (2020), an award-winning multi-perspectival and site-specific opera produced through The Industry and staged at the State Historical Park in downtown Los Angeles, for which he was co-director and costume designer; The MMIWQT Bead Project (2018), a social collaboration resulting in the monumental sculptural installation Every One, composed of over 4000 individual handmade clay beads created by hundreds of communities across the U.S. and Canada to re-humanize the data of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, queer and trans community members; and The Mirror Shield Project (2016), a social engagement work which invited the public to create mirrored shields for water protectors at Standing Rock and which has since been formatted and used in various resistance movements across the nation. 


Courtney Desiree Morris is a visual/conceptual artist and associate professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a social anthropologist and author of To Defend this Sunrise: Black Women’s Activism and the Authoritarian Turn  in Nicaragua (Rutgers University Press, 2023), which examines how black women activists have resisted historical and contemporary patterns of racialized state violence, economic exclusion, territorial dispossession, and political repression from the 19th century to the present. Her work has been published in American Anthropologist, the Bulletin of Latin American Research, the Journal of Women, Gender, and Families of Color, make/shift: feminisms in motion, and Asterix. She is a regular contributing writer and editor-at-large for Stranger’s Guide, an ASME-award winning magazine about place. As an artist, her work examines the complexities of place, ecology, memory, and the constant search for “home.” Her work is concerned with understanding the ways that we inhabit place – through migration, ancestry, and shared social memory — and how places inhabit us. This interplay between landscapes and human subjectivity is evident in the ways that she uses her own body as a staging ground for re-membering her families’ experiences of loss, dispossession and the persistent struggle to make a place for oneself in the world. She examines these questions through the experiences of female ancestors and elders whose stories are often disappeared in family histories and official historical narratives. Morris works primarily in the fields of photography, experimental video, installation, and performance art. She is drawn to these mediums because of the ways that they allow her to engage and play with her family’s history by performatively inhabiting the stories of her childhood and imaginatively filling in the gaps where “facts” are either unknown or in dispute. Photography and video are critical tools for providing viewers with a deep sense of place and history. Alternatively, performance functions as a kind of time-traveling technology where she can revisit and restage sites of ancestral memory, interrogate the present, and imagine new kinds of social and environmental futures. She is a national member of the AIR Gallery and alumna of The Austin Project created by Omi Jones and facilitated by Sharon Bridgforth.


Sarah Rosalena (Wixárika) is a Los Angeles-based conceptual artist who weaves boundless forms between traditional handicraft traditions and emerging technologies in textile, beadwork, and clay. Throughout her career, Rosalena has built a reputation for breaking boundaries through her hybrid forms rooted in indigenous cosmologies, re-interpreted through digital tools and her hand. Born from multi-generations of women weavers, she works from her digital Jacquard loom to her mother’s bead loom. She mixes hand-dyed natural colors including cochineal and indigo with a synthetic, pixelated palette to produce her unbordered textiles, surrounded by her featured deconstructed fringe. Programming her 3D ceramic printer to imitate indigenous coil pot techniques, she fabricates “anti-vessels” that mimic the patterns of weaving and basketry. Working with image software, she creates beadwork–pixel per bead–whose surface mimics the computer screen. Throughout her work, Rosalena renders world-building on a cosmological scale that transforms power structures held by conquest and discovery. Her experimental art practice suggests new possibilities as we define ourselves to technology while looking at the past. For her series “Transposing of Form,” she consulted with researchers at NASA-JPL to print 3D ceramic sculptures with simulated clay from Mars. She replicated her mother’s bead loom in “CMB,” a wall-hung textile whose computer-generated beadwork depicts the origins of the cosmic microwave background–unseen radiation of the Big Bang. Her mid-career survey, “In All Directions,” is on view at the Columbus Museum of Art and examines the geo-political effects of climate change, dispossession, artificial intelligence, and extractive industries to imagine futures outside these logics. She is Assistant Professor of Art at UC Santa Barbara in Computational Craft and Haptic Media. She was recently given the Creative Capital Award, the LACMA Art + Tech Lab Grant, the Artadia Award, the Steve Wilson Award from Leonardo, the International Society for Art, Sciences, and Technology, and the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Art Prize. She has had solo exhibitions with LACMA, the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Clockshop, and Blum & Poe Gallery. Her work is in the permanent collection at LACMA. 


A Collaboration Between Groundwork Hudson Valley, The Center for the Urban River at Beczak, Bronx Community College, and Sarah Lawrence College