Meet the LandLab Resident Artists

By Christina Catanese, Director of Environmental Art

We are thrilled to announce the four resident artist projects for our new LandLab residency program.  Launching this spring, LandLab projects will create innovative, art-based installations that prevent or remediate environmental damage while raising public awareness about our local ecology.

LandLab is a unique artist residency program that operates on multiple platforms: artistic creation, ecological restoration, and education.  Our residency offers resources and space on the Schuylkill Center’s property for visual artists to engage audiences in the processes of ecological stewardship through scientific investigation and artistic creation.  We’re excited at SCEE to offer this opportunity for artists to work in this way in collaboration with the Center for Emerging Visual Artists.

Over the next year, the four artists will engage with ecological issues on our property and, in collaboration with scientists, develop creative solutions to these issues.  I, for one, can’t wait to see how their projects evolve.

I’ll turn it over to the artists themselves to let them tell you about who they are and what they will be working on in LandLab!

Jake Beckman:

Rot and decay are such an important part of the healthy life cycle of a forest, and yet for various reasons they are hardly ever celebrated.   My project will attempt to shed light on these processes through research, workshops and the creation of several data-producing sculptural installations.  These sculptures will explore themes of decay and regrowth and will hopefully exist as quiet meditations on the cycle of detritus found in the forest.

I am a sculptor and educator living and working in Philadelphia.  I work in a wide range of media, but have consistently been interested in systems and materials that sustain our way of life.   I love the scientific process and am excited to begin such a collaborative project.


Marguerita Hagan’s Lila II instigates community involvement while restoring an abandoned lot to create community garden-sculpture grounds.

Marguerita Hagan’s Lila II instigates community involvement while restoring an abandoned lot to create community garden-sculpture grounds.

Marguerita Hagan, B.H. Mills, and Maggie Mills: The Hagan/ Mills/ Mills SCEE installation will include a group of hexagonal “honeycomb” flowerbeds planted with native, pesticide-free, bee-pollinated plants. Data will be gathered on plants and pollinators. The beds will be labeled with handmade signs and an overhead swarm of ceramic bees will create a path to the pollinator garden.

Marguerita Hagan celebrates what John Muir understood: When we pick out anything, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe- in process, sculpture, teaching and community arts collaborations. Cultivating potential and solutions with each sculpture, student and project she leads while serving hundreds with 30 years in clay and sustainable action. With a list of honors and represented in the Made in Philly campaign, Hagan is founder of Margueritaworks custom designing for those sharing a global vision of organic farm to table at home and commercially.

Maggie Mills was awarded a Career Development Program Fellowship at The Center for Emerging Visual Artists and is a winner of the 2014 Fleisher Wind Challenge. Her work addresses the effects that environmental, social, political and technological dynamics have on our spaces and the legacy that we leave to subsequent generations through these spaces.

B.H. Mills is a master carpenter, sculptor, and organic gardener. He has been working in wood, concrete, and other sustainable and reclaimed materials for twenty years. He is currently installing a sculpture garden and sustainable organic gardening system on 1.5 acres of his home property.


WE THE WEEDS led students to create a field guide to local plants.  Students made paper using weeds and seeds, and created a seed-dispersing mural.

WE THE WEEDS led students to create a field guide to local plants. Students made paper using weeds and seeds, and created a seed-dispersing mural.


WE THE WEEDS is a botanical arts initiative aimed at expanding knowledge of the wild plants of Philadelphia, headed by artist Kaitlin Pomerantz and botanist Zya S. Levy. Past projects include a variety of ethnobotanical art interventions highlighting the presence of the natural world within the manmade landscape, and illuminating the uses, historical and cultural significances of wild urban flora (weeds!).

As SCEE Landlab Residents, WE THE WEEDS will build a woven structure from invasive vines, exploring the interwoven histories of humans and plants, and their global migrations. Through this work, WE THE WEEDS will create an opportunity for dialogue about the perception and management of invasive species, the impact of human disturbance of plant populations, and the harms, as well as benefits and uses, of invasive plants.

Leslie Birch:

Philadelphia is surrounded by water and is downstream, which means it is at the mercy of many potential problems.  My project will not only examine water quality, but will also focus on the immediate problem of storm water run-off at the Schuylkill Center.  The success of my project will be influenced by the ability to bring young learners into the equation and to create an installation that helps to educate others and reduce the risks involved with run-off.

I’m a tech artist hoping to use my skills to create moments when people are present.  Whether that is experiencing rain through an LED umbrella or feeling like a spider with a musical yarn web, connectivity allows us to realize we are in this world together. On the environment side, I’m a birder and letter-boxer, so I’m often hanging out at parks.  The Pileated Woodpecker is my fave bird.

Stay tuned for more updates from the artists on this blog as they delve into their residencies, and make sure to keep an eye out for public events associated with our LandLab artists over the next year so you can be a part of their work!

2 thoughts on “Meet the LandLab Resident Artists

  1. Pingback: Drawing Conclusions, LandLab Residency Exhibition, The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education | DoNArTNeWs

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