In 2015, Mia Feuer collaborated with Dr. Grant Deane- Internationally recognized climate scientist, fellow at The Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Assistant Professor at University of California San Diego on the project- MESH. While conducting research in the vulnerable Bayou Terrebonne in Louisiana, Mia took 3d scans of pieces of land soon to be underwater forever. Upon returning to the studio, she milled the 3d model of the 3d scanned disappearing land on the CNC router. She then cast the land formation in salt twice.
Mia considered the relationship between both cities where she had an upcoming exhibition scheduled- Calgary, Alberta (The economic center of the Alberta Tar Sands) and Miami, FL (one of the Earth’s most vulnerable cities in regards to sea level rise) and wanted to create a work that addressed the interconnectedness between these geographies. With the collaborative efforts of Dr. Deane, Mia was able to stream 4 consecutive months of glacial sonic activity recorded at the Hjiornsund Fjord in Svalbard simultaneously in both the Miami and Calgary galleries. Every time there was another major calving event, the thunderous sound of a collapsing glacier triggered a solonoid, which opened a valve releasing a few small drops of indigo aniline dye onto the salt formation. This deformation of the cast salt land forms took place in both galleries at the same time creating a record of actual glacial loss.
LOSS PROJECT SUMMARY (we are currently seeking funding for this project)
The Federally Un-recognized Tribal Communities of Pointe Au Chien and Isle de Jean Charles who live along the disappearing Southern Louisiana Coast are suffering from a loss of land and a loss of culture. This loss is due to a multitude of catastrophic factors including the petroleum industry canal dredging and pollution, salt water erosion, extreme weather and rising sea levels. The remaining land in the Bayou region is washing away at an astonishing rate of one football field every hour. The Pointe Au Chien Indian Tribe in collaboration with artist Mia Feuer are proposing to develop the Loss Project–a barrier of rocks and other cast concrete forms that will prevent the erosion of a small slice of remaining land that currently provides a protection between the water and the disappearing coast. This rock wall will aid in land preservation as well as serve as a cultural memorial to the land that is already lost.
This is a project about Loss. Loss of land, loss of Culture- and taking small steps to preserve what is left with what resources could become available.
Living among the bayous in southern Louisiana, are coastal tribes that are experiencing unprecedented loss of land due to aggressive tides, incoming salt water erosion, catastrophic storms, sea level rise, and soil composition fluctuations resulting from the rise and fall of Mississippi River. Natural disasters, such as Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, Lee, Lillie and Isaac, as well as tropical storm Bill in 2003 have taken a significant toll. Above all, the tribes have also had to cope with various devastating environmental impacts resulting from the petroleum industry, ranging from harmful canal /dredging and construction to large-scale disasters such as the BP oil spill in 2010.
The Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribal Community, with approximately 680 members, is located in lower Pointe-aux-Chenes, a traditional Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw settlement in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes, LA on the Gulf of Mexico. The Pointe-au-Chien Indians have Chitimacha, Acolapissa, Atakapas, and Biloxi Indian ancestry are and are currently not recognized by the Federal Government. Because this tribe is not federally recognized, it has no voice when it comes to emergency disaster response and support. The Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane ProtectionLevee, which is slowly being constructed and funded by The Terrebonne Parish will assist in the preservation of a portion of Pointe-au-Chien but will completely cut the ancestral homeland of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe, including important fisheries, villages, cemeteries, and sacred mounds. This levee will also completely cut off the federally un-recognized Indian Tribe of Isle de Jean Charles- located on the Isle De Jean Charles in Terrebonne Parish.
These communities are on the forefront of climate change.
Oakland based artist Mia Feuer, whose artistic practice includes extensive research in the Suncor Energy Alberta Tar Sands of Fort McMurray, The Arctic Circle and most recently in the vulnerable Bayou region of Louisiana is partnering with the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe to create a physical intervention in the ever encroaching, invading and relentless force of salt water from The Gulf of Mexico.
Recently, Mia Feuer joined Theresa and Donald Dardar- members of The Pointe-au-Chien Tribe and living on the Point au Chien Bayou, on a boat ride through open waters littered with abandoned Apache oil wells, refineries, expanding canals and forgotten homes on stilts. Dolphins, porpoises and sharks swim by as Theresa recalls when she was younger, this area was a lush oak forest. Along the ever eroding- disappearing coastline are ghosts of oak trees, dried old bones of trunks and branches mysteriously dead. Some speculate all the remaining trees died from salt water exposure and some speculate it is from petroleum related pollutants. While on the water, Donald Dardar, a local fisherman described a particular area of land that he has been trying to find the resources and support to protect with rocks to slow the increase in flow of water for years. This narrow strip of land is the only barrier left (30 years ago this was a forest,in the last 3 years, the coast has receded over 15 feet) from the inflow of water which is the major cause of erosion further up the Bayous. This area is located at the bottom of the Bayou Pointe au Chien, adjacent to the Point Au Chene Marina. Donald Dardar explained the benefits of being able to install a rock wall- approximately 100 feet long and approximately 12 feet high. Donald explained why placing this rock wall in a very strategic point would help alleviate the pressure of the salt water on the existing land, which would delay the erosion and inevitable washing away of this land forever.
Because saving this land is a race against time, this proposal is to request that The Rauschenberg Foundation support the Pointe-au-Chien Tribe with a minimum of $150,000 to begin construction on this revetment project as soon as possible. Artist Mia Feuer will collaborate with local residents to design a series of massive rubber or silicon molds that celebrate the Tribe’s culture. These molds will be filled with concrete and used as industrial rock matts to assist in stopping the flow of water and slowing erosion. The cast concrete forms will not only serve as a way to preserve the disappearing landscape, but will also be designed to visually and formally embody the spirit and history of the Pointe-au-Chien culture. This monumental earth work, will not only protect a small sliver of critical remaining land, but will forever serve as a memorial to the loss of land.
MISSION AND VISION OF THE POINTE AU CHIEN INDIAN TRIBE
The Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribal Community is located in lower Pointe-au-Chene, a traditional village of their ancestors, the Chitimacha. The Tribe has approximately 680 members and inhabit the southern part of Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes along Bayou Pointe-au-Chien. The Pointe-au-Chien are the caretakers of an area continuously inhabited by indigenous tribes of South Louisiana, and descend from tribes historical to Louisiana and the Mississippi River Valley. This small French-speaking tribe continues to comprise a distinct community despite colonization, land loss, lack of status as a federally recognized tribe, exploitation of the land and people, and denial of educational opportunities. While the heart of PACIT remains along lower Bayou Pointe-au-Chien, tribal members have had to move in order to adapt to salt water intrusion and the rapid land loss in recent years. The once fertile land provided nourishment for the Indians. The Tribe is currently involved in many projects to increase the self-sufficiency. A Book Project is in the works- to Document History, Culture, and Traditions of Tribe. Even without funding, tribal members have been engaged in documenting oral histories and completing tribal historical research. Another project example is the ongoing work for the Tribe to gain federal recognition. The process is time consuming, expensive, and requires expert assistance. Today, rapid land loss due to the salinization of water, corrosion of the coast, petroleum industry canal dredging and sea level rise is the largest obstacle the Tribe faces.
THERESA DARDAR (community leader)
Theresa Dardar is a strong leader for her region and tribal council member of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe. She is a powerful voice for her community, serving as a representative and spokesperson for her tribe at local, state, national and international forums, such as the United Nations’ Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples Conference. She has participated in the Intertribal Agriculture Council and has represented the Gulf Coast in various capacities. She works as a Native American liaison and in Safe Environment (Pastoral Services) at the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese. She is also President of St. Charles the Roch, Kateri Circle, which is a branch of the Tekakwitha Conference. Theresa also serves as a board member of South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, GO FISH (Gulf Organized Fisheries in Solidarity & Hope) and Vice President of First Peoples’ Conservation Council. She is a member of the Grail, a Catholic lay movement supporting the human rights of women. Theresa has been a participant/leader in Church Women United an ecumenical women’s movement that fights against racial prejudice. She spends most of her time traveling between political, professional, academic and organizational realms to voice justice concerns for her tribe and for the greater native community. When she does find herself at home, Theresa enjoys cooking special local bayou dishes and being out on the water and shrimping with her husband.
DONALD DARDAR (community leader)
Donald Dardar is Co-Chair of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe. He is a Commercial Fisherman of 43 years, and in past years was a trapper, but because of saltwater intrusion trapping is no longer possible in our area. He attends meetings concerning Restoration and the Master Plan representing the tribe. He tirelessly engages in talks with politicians about what needs to be done to save the land- with no success. Concerned about land loss and the environment, Donald Dardar attends the annual EPA conference. Donald is the “go to” representative of the Pointe au Chien community to activists and journalists that come to visit the land and want to see damage by oil companies and salt water intrusion.
PATRICIA A. FERGUSON-BOHNEE (tribal and legal advisor)
Patty Ferguson-Bohnee is faculty director, Indian Legal Program, Director of the Indian Legal Clinic and Clinical Professor of Law at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, Patty Ferguson-Bohnee has substantial experience in Indian law, election law and policy matters, voting rights, and status clarification of tribes. She has testified before the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the Louisiana State Legislature regarding tribal recognition, and has successfully assisted four Louisiana tribes in obtaining state recognition. Professor Ferguson-Bohnee has represented tribal clients in administrative, state, federal, and tribal courts, as well as before state and local governing bodies and proposed revisions to the Real Estate Disclosure Reports to include tribal provisions. She has assisted in complex voting rights litigation on behalf of tribes, and she has drafted state legislative and congressional testimony on behalf of tribes with respect to voting rights’ issues.
Before joining the College in 2008, Professor Ferguson-Bohnee clerked for Judge Betty Binns Fletcher of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and was an associate in the Indian Law and Tribal Relations Practice Group at Sacks Tierney P.A. in Phoenix. As a Fulbright Scholar to France, she researched French colonial relations with Louisiana Indians in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Professor Ferguson-Bohnee, a member of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian tribe, serves as the Native Vote Election Protection Coordinator for the State of Arizona. Patty spearheaded the Federal Recognition Project in 2014- that won fiscal support over a three year period to help the Point Au Chien tribe to achieve a federally recognized status issued by the Administration for Native Americans.
ELAINE LANGLEY (representative of Plenty International)
Elaine Langley is one of the founding members of The Farm- a sustainable commune located in Summerville, Tennessee. The Farm served as a refuge for expecting mothers in the region with little resources. The Farm focused their efforts on Midwifery, wellness and care for women with nowhere else to go. In 1978, she and her team founded a satellite community in Washington DC where they opened up a clinic to support Hispanic communities. It was then that Elaine and other members from The Farm Commune founded Plenty International. Plenty International was created to help protect and share the world’s abundance and knowledge for the benefit of all. Plenty supports economic self-sufficiency, cultural integrity and environmental responsibility in partnership with families, community groups and other organizations in Central America, the U.S., the Caribbean, and Africa. Elaine Langley is a registered nurse, and has worked in several clinics and hospitals in Tennessee, Louisiana, (specifically in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina) and in Haiti in 2010. She also spearheads the Plenty International Bayou Christmas Project, where she brings supplies and gifts for Tribal families living in the vulnerable Bayou region in southern Louisiana.
CONSTANTINE ROUMEL (fabricator, designer + builder)
Constantine Roumel is a professional fabricator with 25 years of experience specializing in large scale steel and architectural structures. He was the owner of Kytin Design and Fabrication and oversaw design and construction of commercial and residential structures and fixtures with a focus sustainability and green materials. Recently, he has provided technical and logistical support to artist Mia Feuer, in the realization of ambitious projects such as An Unkindness, Antediluvian and The Flooded Lecture Series. In 2014, he visited the Isle de Jean Charles and Pointe au Chien Tribal communities with members from Plenty International to bring holiday presents and other supplies.
MIA FEUER (lead artist)
Born in Winnipeg, Canada, Mia is currently a tenure track Assistant Professor of Sculpture at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Her large scale, immersive, sculptural installations have been shown extensively across the continent including solo exhibitions at The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center and The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC. She is the recipient of numerous awards and grants including a production and creation grants from the Manitoba Arts Council, the Winnipeg Arts Council, The Canada Council for the Arts, and The Lila Acheson Readers Digest Foundation. In 2007, with the support of The Winnipeg Arts Council, she traveled to Palestine to facilitate sculptural research and workshops in the West Bank with Palestinian children. Since then, Mia received several fellowships including: Vermont Studio Center; Seven Below Arts Initiative in Burlington, VT; The Mid Atlantic Foundation for the Arts, Baltimore, MD; The Millay Colony, Austerlitz, NY; The Macdowell Colony, Peterborough, NH; The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, NB and was awarded a fellowship from The District of Columbia Center for the Arts and Humanities in 2011. Mia won the 2011 Trawick Prize and received the 2011 Joseph S. Stauffer Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts as well as a major Production/Research Grant. Mia conducted sculptural research in Egypt during the first wave of Egyptian Revolutions in 2011 with a focus on The Suez Canal. This lead to extensive research in 2011 and 2012 in the Tar Sands of Fort McMurray Alberta. During this time, Mia gained unprecedented access to the refineries, mines, tailings ponds and reclamation sites on the SUNCOR Energy grounds. In 2013, Mia was Artist in Residence at the Arts and Science Arctic Circle Residency and spent almost a month sailing the Arctic Sea. In 2014, she was a visiting artist at The Banff Centre as well as assisted PLENTY International in bringing toys and supplies to the Isle De Jean Charles and Pointe au Chien Tribal communities located on the disappearing Louisiana Bayou coast. She also curated The Flooded Lecture Series- which brought together climate scientists, archeologists, primitive technologists, clean energy visionaries, poets and musicians to give free public lectures and performances on boats in the troubled Anacostia River in Washington DC. In 2015, she will be artist in residence at the “Post Natural Landscape” Signal Fire Expedition Residency and will be presenting two solo shows of new work at Locust Projects, Miami FL and The Esker Foundation in Calgary, Alberta. Mia currently lives and works in Oakland, CA.
STEPHANIE SHERMAN (admin + communications)
Is a curator, writer, and collaborator with a 10-year history of founding and directing large-scale public projects and organizations. Her initiatives re-imagine ordinary public places and everyday media as sites for collaborative storytelling, repurposing sites of consumption into platforms for co-production, learning, and exchange between artists and neighbors. She is the co-founder of Elsewhere (a living museum and artist residency set in a former thrift store), the former director of Provisions Research Residencies (social change research projects in the heart of the US capital), an initiator of Kulturpark (an investigation of an abandoned amusement park in east Berlin), and curator for Washington DC’s 5×5 Public Art Project in 2014. Her current projects include the co-founding of Common Field (a national network of artists organizations) and Field Journal (a new digital journal of socially engaged art). Her projects have been featured in The New York Times, ArtInfo, NYFA, and Chicago’s THE SEEN, and supported by the Warhol Foundation, NEA, Art Matters, Kresge Foundation, and others. She holds a BA from University of Pennsylvania in English Literature, an MA from Duke in Critical Theory and Philosophy, and is currently completing a Phd in UCSD’s Visual Arts department, researching the intersections of urbanism, visual culture, and public practice. http://stephaniesherman.net
In 2014, Mia and her partner/collaborator Constantine Roumel traveled with some of the Folks of Plenty International plenty.org to the Louisiana Gulf Coast. Every winter, plenty.org brings heaters, supplies, clothing, toys and books for the children to the gulf communities living in Terrebonne Parish- specifically in Pointe Au Chien and Isle de Jean Charles. Here resides some of North America’s first climate refugees. Folks from the federally unrecognized Biloxi Chitimacha Chawktaw Isle de Jean Charles and Pointe Au Chien Indian Tribes are experiencing unprecedented land loss due to aggressive sea level rise; toxification of water and dredging of vulnerable land by the Petroleum Industry and extreme weather conditions. This research fueled several new projects that explored the interconnectedness between the Gulf Coast- and Mia’s previous research in the Canadian Athabasca Tar Sands and the Arctic Circle.