Exploring our world through Art & Activism



Debris is an interactive, collaborative installation which is being created as a response to the problems presented by single use plastic.

The work reflects the literal problem of plastic in marine environments while offering a symbolic representation of the chemical body burdens carried by wildlife and humans alike. In presenting these issues, we are asked to consider misplaced notions of “disposability”, calling in to question consumer driven waste which has devalued what is in fact a very important material.


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The Butterfly Project


Art as Catalyst exhibition at the Center for Global Justice
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

The butterfly represents hope. It symbolizes transformation; in moving from one state to another, a change in perspective or a new lifestyle. In this way, the butterfly may teach awareness of other ways of being. The Monarch butterfly connects Mexico and the United States through one of the most spectacular migrations in the wild. We rely on them as pollinators. Through presenting an interactive installation around the image of the Monarch butterfly, we hope to engage a participants in a dialogue from regions north and south of a border that is evident to us but invisible to the graceful Monarchs. Through this conversation, we aspire to cultivate fertile grounds out of which we may grow solutions to the environmental catastrophes that have been spawned by Capitalism.

The Monarch butterfly population is on the verge of collapse. Huge swaths of industrialized monoculture have all but decimated the milkweed which is necessary to nourish the generations of butterflies that complete a migration cycle. Chemical inputs, especially pesticides, are fatal to butterflies. No less so for us, but our decline is far more sluggish. Visually, the butterfly is fragile. We chose to print the foundation of this installation with a cold white ink on black paper which gives the butterflies a ghostly appearance. Starting with a form of an imposing grid that echoes the monoculture style of agriculture that sprawls across the Midwest, the piece breaks apart to give the impression of ashen fragments carried off by the wind.

Under the broken part of this framework, participants express their hopes on cards made of repurposed manila folders printed in the warm blacks and oranges of the Monarchs. Prompts are offered so that people may share solution oriented ideas in writing. As we enter the Anthropocene, it is vital that we recognize that in the era that has been named after humans, it is up to us to ensure our future survival. The practice of citizen science was founded on a widespread collaboration in mapping out the migration route of butterflies. In the 1960s, residents from across the United States and Canada, then ultimately Mexico, helped tag the wings of Monarchs and reported back with the numbers and locations of where they were found. Inspired by this action, we have built a foundation for a “citizen art project” that will act as a way for the population to come together in expressions of hope that we can help save this elegant creature. The shifts necessary to prevent the collapse of the Monarch contribute to an overall balance between humans and the natural world on which we depend.

Instigators: Susanne Mitchell & Lee Lee


Express your hopes for reconciliation between human activity and the natural world on a postcard sized drawing of a butterfly and mail it to:

The Butterfly Project, 420 Downing Street, Denver CO 80218, USA

Alternately, a stack of postcards printed with prompts to be filled in may be requested by e-mailing gallery420@gmail.com. The work will be included as part of future installations of this work.



The Tales of
Thatcher Gray


A Year in Grandpa's Garden seeks to educate children with solutions to some of today’s biggest environmental problems which are caused by the industrial food machine. This body of work follows the development of a permaculture garden by Thatcher Gray and Grandpa. Important solutions stem from growing food in a sustainable way that involves the next generation. Exploring the importance of composting, gray water recycling & filtration through wetlands, habitat construction & maintenance, seed saving, biodiversity and nourishment, Thatcher Gray learns to be conscious of impacts we have on our surroundings. Peter T. Leonard (Grandpa) is a master gardener who focuses on a return to tradition while incorporating new developments in polyculture, aquaponics and permaculture. He has written haiku to compliment the paintings.


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The Distillery - PO Box 592 - Taos NM 87571 - 575-758-4735
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