Desert Tides
50 blue light sculptures, 7-11 ft. high
Suspended lichen and seaweed
© Basia Irland, 1995

Statement · Biography · Bibliography

Basia Irland

"A river runs through the mind of Basia Irland. As this river meanders, weaves and flows, its trickles become tributaries, it touches fresh ground and cuts new channels in her thought and work." (Sharon Niederman)

Basia Irland's work has focused on water and wilderness-related issues for more than 30 years. "One could say that Irland's art is kept 'affluent' because of the rigorous continuum of her interrelated ideas about the nature and evolution of bodies of water and their effects on geology, all life forms, and the development of culture." (Diane Armitage) Irland often uses suspended boat forms and archeoastronomy drawings depicting the moon's pull on the tides superimposed over bodies of water, including our own bodies. She uses common earthy, humble materials such as salt which intrigues her for its multiplicity of meanings, and how it has been used as an instrument of exchange and in politically-related events, such as Gandhi's salt march. Although much scholarly research is involved in her art, writers have referred to it as visual poetry.

"In a true multi-media approach, she moves comfortably back and forth between sculpture, photography, performance and poetry." (Harmony Hammond) Her large room-size installations of sculptural light pieces wrapped with water plants such as bamboo, willow and tamarisk, create a quiet, serene space. "Irland has an abiding interest in creating conceptual environments of sculptural artworks that are made out of what may have once been considered non-traditional art materials - in this case, lichen suspended from the ceiling and wispy red branches of salt cedar enveloping internally-lit translucent poles. The 44 blue light and tamarisk branch sculptures and dripping lichen strands in the darkened gallery make for a meditative space with aquatic references." (Tom Collins) "Others might feel they have stumbled into a natural cathedral." (Barbara Bloemink)

Besides being a mom, professor of art at the University of New Mexico, represented by Tony Zwicker in New York, exhibiting with Charlotte Jackson in Santa Fe, and writing poetry and a novel, Irland is a facilitator of a grass-roots based project, "A Gathering of Waters." Begun in 1995, this project focuses awareness on the diverse communities along the entire 1,875 mile length of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo.

Her work has been exhibited internationally and is in 22 permanent collections including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Public Archives of Canada, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. She has received numerous grants and awards including a Fulbright Senior Research Award to Southeast Asia. In 1996, two small press books, Water Cycle (Pyramid Atlantic Press) and River Reciprocity (Salient Seedling Press) were published.


"La Corriente - Rio Bravo/Rio Grande Sustainable Development Initiative." Corriendo con el Agua July 1997.

"A Gathering of Waters." Arts Advocate Summer 1997.

"Po-weh'-geh, Un Juntamiento de Aguas, A Gathering of Waters." Dialogue 5.1 (1996).

A selected list of reviews and catalogs on her work includes:

Bloemink, Barbara. A Natural Order: The Experience of Landscape in Contemporary Sculpture. Yonkers, NY: Hudson River Museum, 1990.

Bright, Betty. Completing the Circle: Artists Books on the Environment. Minneapolis: Minnesota Center for Book Arts, 1992.

Hammond, Harmony. "Basia Irland." Artspace Summer 1988.

Malkonian, Neery. Basia Irland, Navigating the Current; An Installation. Santa Fe, NM: Center for Contemporary Art, 1994.

Niederman, Sharon. "A River Runs Through Her." Quantum: Research and Scholarship Spring 1994.

Peterson, Bill. ÓSanta Fe: New Spaces, New Faces." Artnews March 1988.

Roybal, Valerie. "A Gathering of Waters: Approaching Water Issues through Artful Life." Quantum: Research and Scholarship Spring 1997.

Statement · Biography · Bibliography

Back to "Apple" Essay
(Gallery V)

List of Artists

All images and text © Basia Irland.