Art connects us with each other. Our heart’s wisdom and compassion are directly activated through the emotional and sensory experiences of creative expression, helping us to feel deeply; creating a more embodied awareness of our shared humanity. Art moves us to new ways of seeing, of thinking, challenging us, provoking a response, inspiring shifts in empathy and consciousness. Our exhibitions are grounded in the deep belief that, as Olafur Eliasson says, “Art can engage the world to change the world.” 

Art connects us with each other. Our heart’s wisdom and compassion are directly activated through the emotional and sensory experiences of creative expression, helping us to feel deeply; creating a more embodied awareness of our shared humanity. Art moves us to new ways of seeing, of thinking, challenging us, provoking a response, inspiring shifts in empathy and consciousness. Our exhibitions are grounded in the deep belief that, as Olafur Eliasson says, “Art can engage the world to change the world.” 

2022 Exhibitions

Wide Belonging : earth series
Works by Juliana Forbes

On View | Apr 2 – May 15, 2022

Artist Statement

Our climate crisis indicates that our sense of belonging to the physical earth is out of focus in our individual and collective lives. This series is what I know to do to bring focus back to this most essential and fundamental relationship. I am primarily now working on pieces in groups as I appreciate the intrinsic element of relationship—the conversation the pieces create together.

When I was a young woman I attended a massive art show outside Madrid representing galleries from all over the world. It was held in enormous domes and it took days to visit all the stalls, with buses transporting attendees. At the end of my visit I had seen three pieces of art that really moved me and to my astonishment they were all abstract and very simply marked.

It has taken me 30 years to trust that response and the ability of color and shape to communicate in ways more immediate and intimate than can be intellectually understood or traced. Slowly my work has become increasingly abstract, and even now as I work on my earth series, I aim for a visceral response first, just this side of thinking.

My current work focuses on earth, water, air, fire, and biotic life. We belong to the Earth. We are of the Earth and our sensibilities resonate with the patterns and expressions of organic life. My most audacious aspiration is that my artwork would affirm this relationship, becoming a portal to our connection to nature, existence, our understanding of natural systems, our sense of belonging and unity, and even our understanding of right action.

I was born and raised in Aspen, Colorado and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in Cultural Anthropology. I’ve lived in Boulder since 1990, where Tyler Norris and I raised our children, Eliza Verena and Emmet Daler.

– Juliana Forbes

> julianaforbes.com

2021 Exhibitions

Gallery installations clockwise from top left: Sculptural Interventions to Biodiversity Decline, Boulder Apple Tree Community, Louisville Community Rainworks, Waste in Space: A Human-Centered Approach to Exploring Sustainable Practices in Near-Earth Space.

Celebrating Community : 
Art + Science + Action Partnership Exhibition

On View | Nov 4 – Dec 12, 2021

Frontline Farming apprentices. Photo by Michelle Fox

Love Letters to the Earth

On View | Aug 5 – Oct 3, 2021
at the Boulder Public Library Canyon Gallery
1001 Arapahoe Avenue
Boulder, CO

As climate artists-in-residence with the Boulder Public Library, the Arbor Art Collective presents Love Letters to the Earth – a multi-media exhibition exploring our reciprocal relationship with the Earth

The installation included collage, photography, poetry, cyanotype printing, and sound recordings created through the “Artist in the Garden” project  — a collaboration pairing BIPOC and women artists and farmers who are creating food justice, food sovereignty, and climate-resilient food systems on the Colorado Front Range.

The artworks express their experiences with the land and communities that the farmers honor and steward through their work. The installation provides an opportunity to learn more about how you can support the voices, missions and movement of Black and Brown growers in Colorado.

Create your own Love Letter to the Earth when you visit to add to the Polllinator’s Altar in the center of the gallery, and join weekly Meditation with the Earth in the Library’s outdoor spaces led by Arbor artists throughout the exhibition.

Arbor Art Collective
artists and farms participating:

Alejandra Abad w/ JaSon Auguste & Melanie Walker
Franklin Cruz & Zephrine Hanson
Bianca Mikahn
Ellie Douglass
Frontline Farming
Hampden Farms
Montbello Spiral Garden
Consumption Literacy Project
Children’s Farms in Action
Drylands Agroecology Research / Elk run Farm

Kelsi Nagy. Photographic Diary of Shilpa the Cow.
World Cowgirl 2011

Life in the Plasticene

works by Marcus Eriksen, Kelsi Nagy, Chris Jordan, Patrick Chandler, and David Oonk

On View | July 29 – Oct 17, 2021

Artist/Scientist Round Table
Tuesday Sept. 14th 7-8pm
Online |  > more details

Scientists and artists throughout the world are increasingly called to explore how species on our planet are impacted by and adapting to the complexities of our fossil-fuel driven Plastic Era. Life in the Plasticene integrates art, ecological science and storytelling to explore the merging streams of life and plastic worldwide.

The installation features photography, films, artifacts, and interviews by environmental scientist and educator Marcus Ericksen, environmental philosophy and animal ethics researcher Kesli Nagy; artist, filmmaker, and photographer Chris Jordan, and art/science researchers and NeST Fellows Patrick Chandler and David Oonk.

From microplastics in Colorado streams to cattle foraging for food amongst the plastic waste in India the exhibition asks: How did we get here? How does our relationship with the Earth and way of life evolve when we face the realities of our dependence on plastic? How does the practice of art/science inquiry inspire compassionate action?

Life in the Plasticene was curated in partnership with CU Boulder Environmental Studies PhD student and CIRES Graduate Assistant Patrick Chandler and made possible through a NeST Studio for the Arts Community Grant.

Additional support provided the Inland Ocean CoalitionWashed Ashore, and 5 Gyres Institute.

Un País Olvidado:
Reliquias de Vigencia 

(Forgotten Country : Relics of Agency)

Alejandra Abad

On View  May 27 – June 27, 2021 

Weaving real stories of Venezuelan migrants and animated fiction together with film footage, flora, fauna and food from the land, Abad creates a magical realist mythology that critiques the neocolonial systems exploiting South America and embodies collective memories about immigrant survival.

The shared and unique experiences of Venezuelan migrants are expressed through non-linear animations of mythological structures born from the trauma, memories, and nostalgia that have resulted from being forced to leave one’s country in search of a better life.

People continue to leave Venezuela to escape violence, insecurity and threats as well as lack of food, medicine and essential services. With over 5 million Venezuelans now living abroad, the vast majority in countries within Latin America and the Caribbean, this has become one of the largest displacement crisis in the world. — United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Learn More

The UN Refugee Agency states that there are “5.4 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela worldwide, over 800,000 asylum-seekers from Venezuela worldwide, [and] about 2.5 million living under other legal forms of stay in the Americas.” Based on this data, Venezuela has the biggest forced displacement in the history of Latin America. This is because Venezuela’s past corruption led to socio-economic instability. Not only are Venezuelans unsafe in their own countries, but they are also vulnerable in new countries where xenophobia and discrimination contribute to the dehumanization of these immigrants. The Venezuelan crisis is, of course, the result of the abuse of internal power; however, it is also the direct result of colonization and extraction by foreign powers. Many Venezuelans have been forced to flee their home due to economic instability and political oppression. Being unable to obtain jobs in new countries leaves Venezuelans vulnerable to abuse. “Government lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19 have caused migrants to lose their jobs in the informal sector and approximately 130,000 have made arduous journeys back to Venezuela, many on foot.” The results of this refugee crisis have only worsened due to COVID-19, since there are severe shortages in medical supplies. My work responds to the loss of a national identity that accompanies immigration, but also the corresponding creation of new hybrid identities. This work is based on understanding the past and how the Venezuelan identity has been formed and influenced. Moreover, my research looks into Venezuelan history, our mystified heroes, and the prominence of national symbolism. It also addresses Venezuela’s dependence on oil, and the harm it causes. Most importantly, this project gives voice and agency to the diaspora through tradition, identity, myths, and folklore.

> Learn more about the Venezuelan emergency here.

Alejandra Abad was born in Venezuela and partially raised in Florida. Her style is informed by architectural studies at FAU and in Film, Video, and New Media at SAIC. She experiments with multimedia, site-specific installations, and handmade materials while examining access, borders, and boundaries. She refers to memories of her upbringing while visually depicting transformations that come with migration and hybrid identity. She creates honest and symbolic narratives connected to place, family, and community. Her animations and moving images often feature fragmentation, folklore, and mythology. By mixing personal experience with socio-political critiques, whether it is tied to her homeland or new homes, her work aims to promote wellness, community, equity, and empathy. 

Her content has historic roots in anticolonial movements tied to international surrealism and magical realism, particularly from South America and the Caribbean. She created Bodies of Water, installed at Museo de las Américas, and Poli Mito, which received a grant from First Generation Film / NoBRoZone (Knight Foundation & Time Warner), and was screened at Borscht Film Festival, the Lyric Cinema in 2019, and Shikata Ga Nai in 2020. She travelled to Colombia to teach and make art with the indigenous community. She was a Nest fellow at the MARBLE/marble Symposium. In 2020-2021, as an Engaged Arts and Humanities Graduate Student Scholar, she received grants to fund unidos.club for projects for BMoCA, the Art District of Santa Fe, and Denver’s Clock Tower. She has also recently exhibited in the Co-Terminous and Object Empathy shows at Union Hall.

Instagram : @alejandraabad_

Website : alejandraabad.com

Artist Statement

My thesis work places both the shared and unique experiences of Venezuelan migrants into mythological structures that speak to present hybrid identities and testimonies of what makes up our Venezuelan identity. These cycles, permanence and impermanence shows through the relics in the  installation and how the  animations are tied together by a triad of projections that depict mythological creatures born from the trauma, memories, and nostalgia that have resulted from being forced to leave one’s country in search of a better life. Immigrant identity is a hybrid identity; this hybridity in turn deconstructs the common “insider vs. outsider” binary. 

ScopeoftheNatural 1



Amy Hoagland
Jennifer Cole

5-7pm Friday April 2nd
as part of Boulder Arts Week

On View
April 3 – May 15, 2021

Round Table Discussion
Online | Tuesday May 18th 2021

The Arbor Institute is excited to bring Scope of the Natural to Boulder – a site-specific art/science research study installation created by NeST fellows Amy Hoagland and Jennifer Cole. The project provides an opportunity to participate in scientific research exploring questions about how we experience both nature and art. In this time of continued isolation and collective grief, the installation also provides a quiet space for visitors to ground through a contemplative experience of body, mind, and nature.

Hoagland and Cole joined Arbor Institute Directors Sam Randall and David Levitt, Firehouse Art Center Curator Brandy Coons, and NeST Co-Director Tara Knight for an online panel discussing the project and its research findings on May 18th at 7pm via zoom.

Learn more:

Scope of the Natural uses art to inform science and science to inform art. Data collected by the University of Colorado from visitors at the Arbor Institute in Boulder, CO will form Phase Two of this research study created by social psychologist Jennifer Cole. Phase One was completed previously at the Firehouse Art Center in Longmont, CO.

Visitors participate in the research survey on site using their smart phone or the tablet provided. The full experience takes about 30 minutes. 

After completing the Phase Two study, the researchers will present results and conclusions from data collected through both studies at a round table event on Tuesday May 18th at 6:30pm via Zoom. The discussion will include faculty from the NeST Studio for the Arts at the University of Colorado Boulder engaged in art/science research.

Artist Amy Hoagland creates sculptural installations to challenge the varying relationships that humans have with nature.

from Firehouse Art Center Curator Brandy Coons: To make the sculptures for Scope of the Natural, she 3D scanned rocks and trees using a process called photogrammetry: multiple photographs of the natural forms are placed into a software which stitches the images together to create a 3D file. The 3D file is then applied in digital fabrication methods such as laser cutting to recreate the scanned natural form out of paper, cardboard, and wood. These large-scale sculptures are integrated within wire-frame constructions of welded metal and fused glass rods. Recorded sounds and video projections of ice and water flows in the space evoke even more connection with the natural environment. 

Hoagland’s creative use of materials mimics and suggests forms found in nature, while providing further commentary on our understanding of, and relationship to, organic structures. Geometric sculptures welded of metal and glass call to mind the polygonal mesh of gaming environments and computer animation, as well as the fractured forms of natural crystalline structures, while mirrors are used to reflect light around the space in a simulation of water. Each material (cardboard, glass, welded metals) comes from a human treatment of natural resources, recombined and re-presented within the context of a contemporary relationship to digital environments. Her process brings natural forms into the world of human influence and filters them out again, providing an expression of the many layers that separate our sensory input from our intellectual understanding of the world we live in. 


Scope of the Natural was developed through the Winter Residency at the Firehouse Art Center in partnership with the Nature, Science, Environment, and Technology (NeST) Studio for the Arts at the University of Colorado Boulder.

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Learn more:

MIRRORSTATE has been installed in three formats. The experience of the works is unique in each.

Online / Virtual – interactive website with all video and audio works along with text of conversations between the artists and scientists. Recommended for viewing on a larger screen with headphones for the full audio/visual experience.

Outside/Window + Wall Installation – graphics text from the artists and scientists are installed on the windows of the Arbor Institute and video works projected on the windows and exterior wall on select dates.

Gallery / In Person – reopening Jan 6th – large scale 35 min. projected screening of the video and sound works and rock samples from the Salt Flats in the gallery provides an immersive, contemplative experience.

This project is funded in part by the Nature, Science, Environment, and Technology (NeST) Studio for the Arts at the University of Colorado Boulder.

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Upcoming Exhibitions