Liveable Worlds

The Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art & Design is pleased to announce the opening of Liveable Worlds, on view from October 6 to December 15, 2023. A public performance will be held by Futurefarmers artist collective Friday, October 6 from 12:00-4:00pm, followed by a public reception in the ICA from 5:00–8:00pm.

Curated by Julie Poitras Santos, Associate Professor of MFA, and Sabine Malcolm, Assistant Professor and Chair of Sustainable Ecosystems in Art & Design at Maine College of Art & Design, Liveable Worlds is an exhibition that uses environmental art and design as a starting point for imagining how we can make liveable worlds in challenging conditions. The exhibition presents the work of nine artists who work in painting, sculpture, photography, video, performance, public projects, and installation. Parallel to the exhibition, Liveable Worlds will host events focused on community engagement surrounding environmental justice, on regional and global scales.

“By any measure, our world is becoming increasingly unliveable,” writes co-curator Sabine Malcom. “Liveable Worlds turns our attention to practices of repair, strategies of adaptation, and world-building. The exhibition asks: what forms of visualization, survival, collaboration, and community appear when climates and environments approach conditions that seem unliveable?”

The works in the exhibition argue that to create in a time of environmental disruption is primarily to reimagine and rebuild. Be it by splicing salvaged rope with many hands, imagining a reclaimed landscape, invoking utopian communities, or thinking about one’s mind as an earthly topography, Liveable Worlds engages with both common and conflictual histories of land, water, and air to consider how we can make our worlds liveable.

The ICA will host public art and cultural events associated with the exhibition, including the symposium Making Liveable Worlds: Climate, Community, and Art on November 3-4, 2023. “Crucial to the ideas explored in the exhibition are the creative efforts of our local community members to make our worlds more liveable,” states co-curator Julie Poitras Santos. “In the context of the exhibition, artists, environmental justice organizations, and climate activists will share challenges and successes, highlighting our collective endeavors and strengthening connections between organizations and individuals”. 

A video still depicting a color-disorted hand reaching to the sky and ocean.

Sky Hopinka, Sunflower Siege Engine, (still). HD video, 16mm to HD video, stereo, color. 2022

On Friday, November 3, Mary Mattingly will kick off the weekend symposium with an Artist Lecture. On Saturday, November 4, community organizations will gather in the ICA to collaborate with the sentiments and aims of the exhibition. These organizations are oriented to social justice, and their practices are part of an effort to make our city and our state more “liveable.” During the afternoon, a series of hands-on workshops will be offered to participants. The intent is that audience members will leave with a new form of knowledge that they can implement and disperse into their own environments. The symposium is free to the public, and registration is requested.

Participating artists include:


Sky Hopinka

Athena LaTocha

Patte Loper

Mary Mattingly

Pamela Moulton

Oscar Santillán

Cauleen Smith

Will Wilson

Participating community organizations include:

GreenhornsBigelow LabsFresh Food GardensWild Seed ProjectPlant OfficeMitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions

Liveable Worlds encompasses a number of events that are free and open to the public:

  • October 6, 12:00pm — Futurefarmers Procession, East End Beach to the ICA
  • October 6, 5:00-8:00pm — Opening Reception for Liveable Worlds, [ICA at Maine College of Art & Design]
  • October 16, 12:00-1:00pm — Visiting Artist talk, Athena LaTocha, [Osher Hall, Maine College of Art & Design]
  • October 19, 5:30pm — Friends of Casco Bay, Water Reporters Program, [ICA at Maine College of Art & Design]
  • November 3, 5:00pm — Keynote Speaker, Mary Mattingly, Making Liveable Worlds: Climate, Community, and Art [ICA at Maine College of Art & Design]
  • November 4, 9:00am-4:00pm — Symposium, Making Liveable Worlds: Climate, Community, and Art [ICA at Maine College of Art & Design]

For more information about the exhibition and accompanying events, please visit the ICA website.