I’m way behind on getting the word out about current exhibits of my work. Two happening this fall:

Home ECOnomics at the Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art in Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Permafuture at Prove Gallery in Duluth, Minnesota

Coming up in October, I will be installing work at the Transboundary Columbia River Basin Conference in Spokane, WA as part of an exhibition organized by Deborah Thompson from Nelson, BC.

Give this artwork a good home!




On Saturday, October 5, I will launch a new project at the Brightwater Center for Environmental Education.  The installation includes 600 bars of custom-made, clear glycerin soap, each with a small ceramic “stone” with a poem inscribed embedded inside. Visit the Brightwater Center to mark where your soap will enter the stream of wastewater, and take a bar home with you. Here are the details…


The water system is a huge and mostly unseen stream. It is a vast network in all our houses, under our streets, headed to Puget Sound. We touch it every day.

This project is an insertion into the stream of water and the stream of consciousness. We turn on the tap and we take the bar of soap in our hand. It is an intimate yet unnoticed object. Normally, it wears away and disappears, becoming out of sight, out of mind.  With this project, each soap bar contains a small ceramic “stone” with lines of a poem inscribed.

Eventually each bar of soap will leave behind its relic, a poem reminding us of the cycle of water and waste. This artwork is experienced intimately and individually in many locations, all connected by the vast stream of the wastewater system.

The words inside each bar of soap are excerpted from Janet Norman Knox’s poem “Carbon Shining in Our Faces.” Different bars of soap have different stanzas of the poem inside them.

FROTH RINSE REFLECT SEND is part of Brightwater’s on-going public art programming, produced by 4Culture in partnership with King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division. As part of the Conveyance Project, Vaughn and five other King county-based artists are producing temporary artworks designed to inspire and engage the broader community in a conversation about water quality in our region, environmental stewardship and the extent of the Brightwater system.

Carbon Shining in our Faces

we are mostly water—two H

one O—polar and pulling

we read each other in our palms

1 human cell to 9 bacteria

froth hand over hand

rinse you swirl me

our Coriolis clockwise

northern hemisphere drains

DNA—elementary Watson

and Crick—quick—spin a glint

reflect light the Sound

send our C to salt and sea

-Janet Norman Knox

Janet’s Bio:

Seven-time Pushcart nominee and finalist for the Discovery/The Nation Award, Janet Norman Knox’s poems have appeared in Los Angeles Review, 5 AM, Crab Creek Review, Rhino, Diner, Seattle Review, Adirondack Review, Poetry Southeast, Red Mountain Review, and Diagram. Her chapbook, Eastlake Cleaners When Quality & Price Count [a romance] received the Editor’s Award (Concrete Wolf, 2007). She received the Ruskin Poetry Prize (Red Hen Press) in 2008. The Los Angeles Review nominated her for 2010 Best New Poets. Her poetry was used by composer Paul Lewis for his 2006 opera, Last Poem on Earth. She participated in a 2011 Jack Straw Foundation Grant in collaboration with artist Syracuse University Professor Anne Beffel. Janet Norman Knox is also an owner of 25-year old Pacific Groundwater Group, an environmental and water resource consulting firm. She is an Environmental Geochemist specializing in contaminant investigations and cleanup like a doctor of the land.

I’m headed to Chicago on Monday to install work at EXPO Chicago… here’s the press release and PR!


Living Sculptures: NRDC brings engaging environmental art to EXPO CHICAGO

Artist Vaughn Bell to join NRDC at 2013 fair.

CHICAGO (September 3, 2013) – The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) will present the work of Seattle-based artist and environmental advocate Vaughn Bell at EXPO CHICAGO, The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall September 19th – September 22nd. Last year’s inaugural NRDC booth at EXPO CHICAGO featured artwork by esteemed artists Maya Lin and Gordon Matta-Clark. Bell’s work continues the rich tradition of environmental activism in contemporary art, underscoring issues of sustainability, stewardship, cultivation and the complex issues involved in “ownership” of the environment.

Three of Bell’s pieces will be on display including “Metropolis,” a large-scale terrarium comprised of acrylic skyscrapers composed of native Midwestern plants and mosses. The artwork, which will be rigged from the ceiling of Navy Pier, encourages viewers to place their heads into the urban landscape, creating an immersive experience that challenges our relationship to the natural world.

NRDC will also feature “A Pack of Forests,” living, mobile sculptures by Bell that will stimulate conversations about nature and stewardship, while underscoring the fragility of our environment. Finally, a limited edition of “Pocket Biospheres,” tiny, hand-held environments, will be available for adoption during the course of the exposition. In lieu of a financial payment, adoptees sign a contract, obligating them to take care of their piece of land according to set instructions. Each adoption will be documented and displayed in a process demonstrating the vast and varied connections people have with the environment.

“Collaborations with artists like Vaughn Bell are critical to sparking dialogues and raising awareness of the environmental problems facing our communities,” said Henry Henderson, Midwest Director of NRDC. “We work on serious issues that can be complex and technical; thoughtful and engaging pieces like Bell’s break down walls and communicate the essence of these critical matters in a way everyone can appreciate.”

Tony Karman, President and Director of EXPO CHICAGO remarked, “NRDC has become a key partner of EXPO. Their ongoing commitment to explore issues of the environment in contemporary art is both thought-provoking and awe-inspiring.”

Vaughn Bell, exhibiting her work in Chicago for the first time since 2007, said, “It’s an honor to exhibit at this world-class event with NRDC, an organization that reflects my commitment to the environment. I hope my work at EXPO CHICAGO inspires visitors to notice the natural world around us – especially in an urban center like Chicago – and engage with their surroundings differently.

On Friday, September 20th at 1:30pm, Henderson and Bell will join together for a special “booth talk” to discuss the exhibition. The event is open to the public and will take place at NRDC’s booth, #108, near the main entrance to Festival Hall.

Learn more about NRDC’s efforts by visiting booth #108 at EXPO CHICAGO or: www.nrdc.org

For more information about EXPO CHICAGO, including the complete schedule, visit: www.expochicago.com

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Puget Sound – near the outfall of the conveyance pipe that transports treated wastewater from Brightwater Treatment Plant.

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Wastewater starts here…

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One spot in the huge network of pipes at Brightwater.

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Massive infrastructure.


Over the last year I have been working on a public art project for the Brightwater Wastewater Treatment Center, as part of a program commissioned by 4Culture.  As part of the construction of the new treatment plant at Brightwater, a conveyance tunnel was built to transport the treated wastewater out to the Sound.  My temporary public art project takes this concept of conveyance as a jumping off point from which to focus on how we experience our connection to the vast system that runs beneath all our streets, that we contribute to every day. I’m working on the final touches of the project and will be rolling it out in the next month. More details to come.

Pocket Biospheres for Adoption featured in “This Land” exhibition through September.

SU Art Galleries

July 19 – September 20, 2013
University Gallery & Downtown Campus

Opening Reception: Friday, July 19, Downtown Campus

Performance: Khristian WeeksThird Friday, August 16, 8pm, Downtown Campus
Somewhere between installation art and performance, Khristian Weeks manipulates light and sound to transform environments.

Panel Discussion: “Land, Landscapes and Earthly Visions: A Scholarly and Artistic Interchange”, September 4, 7-9 pm, Fulton Hall 111

Performance: Tatsuya NakataniThursday, September 19, 8pm, Downtown Campus
Experimental percussionist performs inorganic, industrial-like noises juxtaposed in the same breath as organic and lush nature-like sounds.

Closing Reception: Friday, September 20, University Gallery & Downtown Campus

This show’s title playfully adopts the lyrics to the beloved Woody Guthrie song, “This land was made for you and me.” This response to God Bless America presents an assumption about America’s natural landscape, primarily that it is made for man and in turn meant to be made by man through altering ecosystems…

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Ego | Eco: Environmental Art for Collective Consciousness
August 31 – October 4, 2013 Opening Reception on Saturday, August, 31 2013, 5 – 8 p.m.
CURATORS: Allison Town & Emily D. A. Tyler

Join us at the Cal State Fullerton Begovich Gallery on Saturday, August 31st from 5:00-8:00 p.m. for this fun community event. 
Participate in an Urban Forager performance intervention, craft a California native seedpod, adopt your own Pocket Biosphere, taste a sampling of culinary creations by Green Bliss Cafe, and meet artist-in-resident, Nicole Dextras, for a chance to collaborate on a Little Green Dress installation at the Fullerton Arboretum during the month of September!
Ego|Eco: Environmental art for Collective Consciousness features work by the following artists, partnerships or collectives:
Vaughn Bell, Terry Berlier, Jim Cokas, Jacci Den Hartog, Nicole Dextras, Fallen Fruit, Helen and Newton Harrison, Chris Jordan, Alison Moritsugu, Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, Dmitri Siegel and Edward Morris, Esther Traugot and Andre Woodward.

Sensing Change website

Wonderful website with tons of info about the work at the Chemical Heritage Foundation Exhibition.

Just got back from Philadelphia, where I worked on installing a new environmental artwork at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. The ecological diversity of the forest there is threatened by invasive species such as Asiatic Bittersweet that suffocate native plants. In addition, new plantings of native plant species are so tasty that they have to be fenced off in order for them to survive being eaten by deer.  I wanted to create a restoration project that would highlight this situation: one in which human care, protection and intervention is necessary for diverse native plants to thrive.

Lots of volunteers and staff helped as we worked to clear a 16′ x 20′ patch of invasive species. We ended up with a huge pile!

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After clearing, we constructed an 8′ deer fence in the form of a “house” for the new native plants we would be putting in.  A front door and welcome mat greet visitors to the house, where they can go inside and relax on stump seats amidst the plantings of Spicebush, Tupelo, Aster, Native Sunflower, and more.

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before and after:


Finishing touches will go on the project over the next few weeks. More to come.

This spring I taught a class on Eco-Art at UW-Tacoma. We partnered with the MAST center aquarium to create a public art project for their atrium. The MAST center has been working on a project called “Got Caps?” to educate people about the impact of plastic debris on the oceans.  My students worked with thousands of plastic bottlecaps collected through the MAST center’s program- these caps are not recyclable at local facilities.  They created this jellyfish installation, named “PETE” in a few short weeks.