Forest Island Residency - October 2017




The inaugural session of the Forest Island Project’s Residency Program features three visual artists: Krysten Cunningham, Helen Mirra, and Drea Zlanabitnig.  Selected by Corrina Peipon, the first three FI Fellows will participate in several events which are open to the public in Mammoth Lakes during the month of October. Cunningham, Mirra, and Zlanabitnig were chosen specifically for the immediate connections their work makes to the natural world. Their work takes a range of different forms, from sculpture and performance, to photography and collage, to mixed media interpretations of walks in the environment. All three engage in practices that utilize space as a perceptible material that possesses the potential to be a site of social interaction, spiritual communion, or political conflict. In their investigations, the surrounding environment is at turns inspiration, subject matter, and medium. 

Please join us to engage with the artists and their work as they immerse themselves in and respond to this place we call home. Stay informed about events throughout the month of October and beyond by joining our mailing list. 

To reach the artists’ individual websites, please click on their names. 



Forest Island Residency Fellows:



Blending fine art and craft mediums and techniques, Krysten Cunningham (American, b. 1973) approaches her practice as a research project and an open-ended experiment. Recalling artists such as Lygia Clark and Robert Smithson, Cunningham’s work addresses viewers with a directness that sometimes involves community participation but always offers layers of nuance that help us see everyday objects and scenarios anew. Cunningham’s work connects to the flow of time and history, often engaging subject matter that is in danger of being forgotten but might help us better understand who we are. 

Based in Los Angeles, California, Krysten Cunningham received a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from the University of California, Los Angeles (2003) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (2000). One person exhibitions of her work have been held at the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum, St. Augustine, FL (2016) and the Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, CA (2013), and her work has been included in thematic exhibitions such as Craft Tech/Coded Media, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (2013); Undone, Making and Unmaking in Contemporary Sculpture, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK (2010); Beyond Measure, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, UK (2008); and THING: New Sculpture from Los Angeles, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2005). 


HELEN MIRRA    |     Artist 

Helen Mirra (American b. 1970) presently maintains a rhythm of working in a sustained relation to walking. Her loyalty is to both the metrical and the ecological. Her artworks have taken form in printmaking, sculpture, writing, and sound, articulating her walks in forests, mountains, meadows, and cities.  Alongside her studio practice, under the dharma-inflected moniker Half-smiler, Mirra has organized some participatory walks that are considered a self-conscious vernacular activity rather than as performance, attending to the interrelation of the everyday, somatics, and friendliness.

Solo exhibitions include those at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, the Berkeley Art Museum, Kunst-Werke Berlin, and Haus Konstruktiv Zurich.  Mirra was previously an Associate Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University and Senior Lecturer in Visual Art and Cinema & Media Studies at the University of Chicago. Mirra received a Master of Fine Art from the University of Illinois, Chicago (1996) and a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and Contemporary Art History from Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont (1991). She now lives in Muir Beach, California.



Photography is both a medium and a subject of investigation for Drea Zlanabitnig (Austrian b. 1986). Her large scale landscape photographs document sites that are directly impacted by climate change and also reckon with the history of photography. In more intimately-scaled series, Zlanabitnig uses collage to mimic natural forces like erosion and glacial melting. Occasionally turning the camera on herself, she confronts and challenges the conventional roles of male photographer and female subject, questioning subjecthood and a long history of objectification of women by male artists. The confluence of these subjects yields a subtle and complicated exploration of the equation of the landscape to the female body and the exploitation of both. 

Drea Zlanabitnig received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles (2017) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Visual Arts in New York City (2008).