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Brandon Ballengee, Danse Macabre 2014. Archival pigment print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Bright White 23.25 x 16.5" Printed by Peter Foolen
“As an artist, biologist and environmental educator, my concerns are for communities both human and non-human that are affected by the ecological impacts of the Anthropocene. Today’s environmental problems are global in scale and complexity. To face this milieu of issues, we need the creativity of artists, scientists and more to creatively address such challenges that we and other species currently face.
The underlying goal of my art is to increase overall awareness that each of us as individuals make a difference to our biological community.
The art itself is made from diverse mediums such as large-scale light sculptures which serve to spotlight arthropod diversity along with trans-species happenings, living plants and animals displaced in temporary enclosures to highlight local flora and fauna, large-scale high-resolution scanner photographs, micro-imaging and billboards of unique organisms to represent the individuality of non-human individuals and many others.
“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the Eyes of others only a Green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all Ridicule and Deformity [… ] and some scarce see Nature at all. But to the Eyes of the Man of Imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.”
William Blake, 1799
Brandon Ballengée (American, born 1974) is a visual artist, biologist and environmental activist based in Arnaudville, Louisiana.
Ballengée creates transdisciplinary artworks inspired from his ecological field and laboratory research. Since 1996, a central investigation focus has been the occurrence of developmental deformities and population declines among amphibians and other ectothermic vertabrates. In 2001, he was nominated for membership into Sigma XI, the Scientific Research Society. In 2009, Ballengée and Stanley K Sessions published “Explanation for Missing Limbs in Deformed Amphibians” in the Journal of Experimental Zoology and received international media attention from the BBC and others. This scientific study was the inspiration for the book Malamp: The Occurrence of Deformities in Amphibians (published by Arts Catalyst & Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK) and a solo exhibition at the Royal Institution of Great Britain (London, England: 2010). From 2009 through 2015 he continued his amphibian research as a Visiting Scientist at McGill University (Montréal, Canada) and, in 2011, he was awarded a Conservation Leadership Fellowship from the National Audubon Society’s TogetherGreen Program (USA). In 2014 he received his Ph.D. in Transdisciplinary Art and Biology from Plymouth University (UK) in association with the Hochschule für Gestaltung Zürich (Switzerland). In 2015, he was the recipient of a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).
Since 2016, he has been a Postdoctoral Research Associate Museum of Natural Science at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), studying the impact on fish species from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill with Curator of Fishes Prosanta Chakrabarty. Their project, Crude Life Portable Museum: A Citizen Art and Science Investigation of Gulf of Mexico Biodiversity after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, is ongoing thanks to an Interdisciplinary Projects Grant Award from the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI), a project of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Ballengée is also a 2017/18 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) and Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in Washington D.C. examining species “missing” from the Gulf since the 2010 oil spill.
Ballengée’s artwork has previously been exhibited throughout the USA and internationally in 18 countries, including Canada, Argentina, England, Germany, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Russia, India, China, South Korea and Australia. In the summer of 2013 the first career survey of Ballengeé’s work debuted at the Château de Chamarande (Essonne, France), and travelled to the Museum Het Domein (Sittard, Netherlands) in 2014. In 2016 a 20-year retrospective of his work was held at University of Wyoming Art Museum in Laramie, Wyoming.
His art has been featured in several major US publications, including ARTnews, Art in America, The New York Times, New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Orion, Audubon Magazine and Sculpture. Internationally, it was also featured in Beaux Arts (France), Greenpeace Magazin (Germany), Liberation (France), L’Oeil (France), The Observer (England), The Guardian (England), Financial Times (England), BBC News (England), D’Ars (Italy), Domenica (Italy), Il Venerdi (Italy), SNACKS (China), The Sunday Guardian: New Dehli (India) and others.
Check out this great videoBrandon Ballengée is an artist, a biologist, and an environmental activist. "Collapse" is a monumental piece about Deepwater Horizon oil spill and his post-doctoral research into its ongoing effects. It's on display at the Rowan University Art Gallery through November 4, 2017. Ballengée's installations about extinction and his ongoing photographic series of mutated amphibians are also on display in this mid-career retrospective titled "Sea of Vulnerability."