Exhibitions | Salt Lake Area Exhibitions

Jorge Rojas & Dr. Sasha Reed: The Biocrust Project

Salt Lake City
Jan. 26 – June 1
Opening Reception: Friday, January 26, 6:00 pm-9:00 pm

Humans use both art and science to explore, understand, and communicate about our world. Despite this inherent connection, artists and scientists typically work in isolation. Canyonlands Research Center’s (CRC’s) Artist in Residence (AiR) program seeks to educate and engage diverse audiences in ecology and climate solutions through explicit collaborations between artists and scientists. The CRC’s 2023 inaugural AiR project is a partnership between multidisciplinary artist Jorge Rojas and U.S. Geological Survey scientist Dr. Sasha Reed.

Drylands cover roughly 40% of the planet’s land surface, and within drylands, biocrusts are a photosynthetic soil surface and a dominant cover type. Biocrust–the desert’s living skin–is a complex community of lichens, mosses, and cyanobacteria living on about 12% of the Earth’s land surface. Just centimeters tall, biocrust is the bumpy, often dark or burnt looking carpet atop desert soils, stretching between shrubs, plants, and rocks. Biocrust plays critical roles in sustaining the world’s ecosystems and in protecting human health, and are under threat due to climate change and human impacts. Art and science can help us experience these small but important communities, allowing us to know, respect, and support them.

This year’s CRC AiR project is an educational and immersive encounter with biocrust, where museum visitors of all ages are invited to experience an audiovisual environment narrated by a multitude of voices including indigenous, scientific, and environmental perspectives on biocrust.

Very special thanks to Nikki Cooley, Diné, Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals’ Climate Change Program, and Kristen Redd, Canyonlands Research Center, for their voices and expertise, and to Blank Space for video production.

Utah Museum of Contemporary Art
20 S. West Temple
Salt Lake City UT 84101



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