Methods and Materials: Ecological Art in Practice with Daniel McCormick

Daniel McCormick has practiced ecological art for 25 years, installing sculptural works in damaged natural environments to effect positive ecological change. His ephemeral artworks of organic materials are used as silt traps and erosion control weavings, and are intended to evolve and recede from view over time. In the rare solo exhibition at the Hazel Wolf Gallery in 2011, McCormick brought the methods and materials of his outdoor works inside. The show featured installations of restoration materials, sculptures made with techniques he used in the field, and preparatory drawings for various projects.


About the Exhibit

Daniel McCormick goes beyond witnessing and documenting environmental damage to create art that becomes a positive ecological intervention, giving aesthetic weight to ecological restoration. His sculptural installations, located primarily on public lands and in open spaces, work to restore the equilibrium of watersheds and other ecosystems adversely impacted by rural and urban communities. Using elements from the environments where he works, McCormick weaves natural materials into sculptural forms that serve as silt traps, erosion control implements, fish habitat enhancements and other ecological aids. Through succession into the land, these sculptures evolve to a more ephemeral state. When the restoration process is established the artist’s presence is no longer apparent.


This exhibition at the David Brower Center posed a unique opportunity for the artist to create new work specifically for an indoor gallery environment. The works revealed the methods and materials McCormick traditionally uses in the field. Drawings and sculptures represented the types of earthworks he creates, and documentary photographs showed the evolution of several of his ecological installations over time. Through these, viewers could begin to understand the significance of McCormick’s role at the intersection of art and ecology. His art practice reflects a deep concern for the environment and community, as well as his belief that an artist has a responsibility to do more than act as a witness.


About the Artist

Daniel McCormick is an interdisciplinary artist and design professional with integrated skills in the fields of sculptural installation, environmental design and ecological restoration. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including an Artist Grant from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, an Invitational Bridge Residency Award from the Headlands Center for the Arts, a creative development grant from the Blumenthal Foundation, a Creative Capital Award and an Urban Landscape Award from the Friends of the Urban Forest. McCormick’s work has been featured in exhibitions at the Oakland Museum of California, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Bolinas Art Museum, Headlands Center for the Arts, Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, CA and the McColl Center for Visual Art.


Related Resources:
From Gully to Gallery: Restoration Art in Berkeley, Bay Nature
Eco-Friendly Artists Breaks the Mold, Daily Californian