For the Forest Island Project’s third residency session, FI and UC Santa Barbara’s Mammoth Lakes based Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab have formed a partnership to investigate the shared interests of artists and scientific researchers working in the Eastern Sierra. Developed by FI, SNARL, and artist Brian O’Connell, this year’s program brings together three artists to collaborate with SNARL scientists under the title Avalanche Dynamics.

Avalanche Dynamics considers how artists and scientists combine procedural rigor with the pursuit of something more felt than already known—a hunch, a nascent hypothesis, inspiration even. In the pursuit of knowledge, a tension develops between process and intuition. When the two come into alignment an intellectual, emotional, and cognitive avalanche of insight can be released. The artistic projects developed through Avalanche Dynamics hope to achieve such moments through interaction with the basic forces that inform the evolving natural, cultural, and lived environment of Mammoth Lakes, California.

Artists Alice Könitz, Brian O’Connell, and Nina Waisman have been invited by FI as participating resident artists for the 2019 Program. Over the course of a one-year fellowship, each artist will make visits to explore the Eastern Sierra, using SNARL as a basecamp, in order to research and develop artistic projects in conjunction with scientists at SNARL. The fellowships are structured to build towards a three-week residency period in late Spring 2019, followed by a final presentation of the artists’ work near the end of the fellowship term that Fall.


German-born, Los Angeles-based artist Alice Könitz works individually and collaboratively to explore the interaction of institutional structures, systems of display, public participation, and the built and natural environments. Könitz has presented work in numerous exhibitions, including the 2008 Whitney Biennial and the 2008 California Biennial. In 2012, Könitz founded Los Angeles Museum of Art (LAMOA), an experimental exhibition space that the artist describes as a “platform for an organic institution that lives through participation.” LAMOA was featured in the Hammer Museum's Made in L.A. 2014 and won the Mohn Award.


Born in Leuven, Belgium, Brian O’Connell is a multidisciplinary artist who’s practice reveals the latent beauty in the structures and processes of research by recontextualizing technologies both old and new. O’Connell’s work has been featured in the Hammer Museum’s Made in L.A. biennial (2014) and MoMA PS1’s Greater New York (2010). He has produced public projects in Istanbul (2012) and Leuven (2005), and exhibited his work in galleries and museums internationally, including Redling Fine Art, Los Angeles, Laure Genillard, London, and Abteiberg Museum, Mönchengladbach. In 2016, he cofounded Rakish Light Press with Deirdre O’Dwyer. O’Connell, a Fulbright scholar, holds degrees from Columbia University and the California Institute of the Arts and is currently on the faculty of the Roski School of Art and Design at USC.


As an installation artist and director with a background in dance, Nina Waisman is informed by the critical roles that movement and sensation play in forming thought. Waisman’s ongoing series of collaborative artworks, conducted through The Laboratory for Embodied Intelligences (LEI) which she co-founded and directs, explore the possibility of physical empathy with non-human intelligences ranging from microbial to plant, animal to extraterrestrial. With degrees from Harvard, Art Center College of Design, and UCSD, Waisman was recently the SETI Institute Artist in Residence. She has created artworks for the Dorothy Chandler Music Center, Hammer Museum, the City of Santa Monica, CECUT Tijuana, and the OCMA/California Biennial. She has taught at institutions including Art Center College of Design, Cal Arts, SFAI, UCSD, Casa Vecina (Mexico), and lectures internationally.