A January–March 2020 exhibition at USF Contemporary Art Museum, curated by Sarah Howard and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Sponge Exchange focused on ecology and knowledge transfer in two new collaboratively-produced video and sculpture installations. Swirling, a four-channel video made with Matt Flowers and Joshua Quarles, surrounded viewers with projections of underwater coral restoration. Coastorama examined the coastal climate crisis and its most impacted species and was inspired by the idiosyncratic sponge-diving dioramas of Spongeorama in Tarpon Springs. Coastorama was made with USF School of Art and Art History students in the Sponge Exchange class, co-taught with John Byrd. All projects in the exhibition were entirely collaborative, proposing the ecological premise of sharing of resources, ideas, and opportunities.
University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum
January 17–March 7, 2020
3821 USF Holly Drive, Tampa, Florida 33620
Sponge Exchange expands artist Hope Ginsburg's work with ecology and knowledge transfer in two new collaboratively-produced video and sculpture installations. Swirling, a four-channel video created in collaboration with diver/videographer Matt Flowers and composer Joshua Quarles, and produced with the support of the Wexner Center for the Arts Film/Video Studio Program, surrounds viewers with the underwater coral nurseries and outplant sites of St. Croix, capturing coral farming and reef restoration in all of its optimism and tragedy. The exhibition also features Coastorama, a series of new dioramas inspired by the idiosyncratic sponge-diving dioramas of Tarpons Springs' Spongeorama Museum. Created in collaboration with USF School of Art and Art History students in a fall semester class co-taught by Ginsburg and USF Associate Professor John Byrd during Ginsburg's 2019 Kennedy Family Visiting Artist & Scholar Residency, the dioramas examine the coastal climate crisis and its most impacted species. The Gulf of Mexico Bryde's Whale: Endangered Species diorama is a collaboration with Michael Royce, Joshua Quarles, and Maxwell Parker. Also on view is Bryde's Whale and a Breathing Moon, a new flag collaboration with Sarah Howard honoring one of the most endangered whale species in the world; the Sponge Exchange Diving Helmet, a collaboration with Maxwell Parker, Natalia Kraviec, and Luke Myers; and the Sponge HQ and Land Dive Team archives with works made with the student monitors of the Sponge HQ. Sponge Exchange is supported by an Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The exhibition is curated by Sarah Howard and organized by USF Contemporary Art Museum.
Land Dive Team: Tarpon Springs is the fourteenth event in the Land Dive Team body of work proposing practicing present moment awareness as a strategy for navigating the overwhelming reality of climate change. Sited in the historic Sponge Exchange at the heart of the sponge diving community of Tarpon Springs, the performance draws a connection between the movement of breath and sound through the meditating body and the flow of ocean water through the pores of a sea sponge. Composer Joshua Quarles performs his original composition for wind instruments in three movements. The audience is invited to participate in the guided meditation.
A new multiple made for the show, 100 Gulf of Mexico Bryde's Whales, depicts the endangered Gulf of Mexico Bryde's whale, whose numbers are now estimated at less than 100. All profits from these printed flags are donated to The Ocean Foundation's Sea Grass Grow initiative to offset carbon by restoring and protecting seagrass habitats.
Link to Sponge Exchange on the USFCAM site
Link to the exhibition catalog
Many thanks to curator Sarah Howard and the entire team at the USF Contemporary Art Museum for making this truly collaborative undertaking a reality.