Urbano Project Presenting David Buckley Borden’s ‘Proposed Futures: Then and Now’

Print More

Environmental challenges are continually increasing. Ecological awareness is the foundation of environmental action and proactive stewardship. Artist and designer David Buckley Borden’s creative use of the “proposal” provokes us to imagine a variety of environmental futures and urges us to do more for the planet in "Proposed Futures: Then and Now."

David Buckley Borden, Hemlock Hospice at Harvard Forest

Informed by ecological research and community engagement, Borden explores a collaborative approach to environmental education through accessible art and design, ranging from speculative design proposals to installations in both the gallery and the landscape.

​Urbano Project is hosting "David Buckley Borden | Proposed Futures: Then and Now," an exhibition exploring how art and design can foster cultural cohesion around environmental issues and help inform ecology-minded decision-making, March 30 – May 17, 2018. An artist installation tour will be held on Thursday, April 5 at 6 pm; and an opening reception on Wednesday, April 25, 6-9 pm.

"Proposed Futures: Then and Now" features five projects developed during place-based residencies Borden held at Mass MoCA, Teton Art Lab in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Harvard Forest, and Trifecta Editions’ Hibernaculum in the Adirondacks. Each project starts with a series of one-page proposals and builds from there to include maps, silkscreen prints, sculptures, and/or installations. On May 11, Borden will be joined by Harvard Forest’s Senior Research Fellow in Ecology, Dr. Aaron M. Ellison, to talk about their collaborative exhibition, Hemlock Hospice, currently on view at the Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA.

“It is said that landscape ecology plays out on a regional scale, but that it occurs locally. The same could be said of the adoption of environmental stewardship practices. Success may be measured in terms of mainstream adoption, but it occurs one individual at a time. In practice, both our collective and individual values shape our environment. In addition to our built-works, ecological awareness is a powerful design tool for environmental change. Long-term sustainable practice depends on a heightened ecological awareness. To that end, my creative practice is driven by the notion that our mounting environmental challenges demand new interdisciplinary education models and communication methods," said Borden about his work.

"My mission-driven projects, often a hybrid of art, design, and science communication, are intended to foster environmental awareness. Based on my experience and research, the lesson is clear: to make an impact, environmental communication must be accessible, informative, and engaging. Making ecological issues relevant to popular culture in one way or another is critical. These initiatives must address the human element for which our efforts are intended to serve. There are many ways to do so, but my most successful projects typically employ a combination of community engagement, education, and accessible aesthetics," said Borden. "I agree with Paulo Freire, the late Brazilian educator and philosopher, that education is the most transformative value-producing system in society. That being said, education is the most far-reaching investment of our collective design effort. An informed public with a shared ecological awareness will be in a better position to support long-term sustainable practices. Moreover, an informed public is in a position to become their own empowered advocates and are more likely to assume an active role as responsible environmental stewards.”


David Buckley Borden is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based interdisciplinary artist and designer. Using an accessible combination of art and design, He promotes a shared environmental awareness and heightened cultural value of ecology. Borden's place-based projects highlight both pressing environmental issues and everyday phenomena. Informed by research and community outreach, his work manifests in a variety of forms, ranging from site-specific landscape installations in the woods to data-driven cartography in the gallery.

Borden's place-based projects have recently earned him residencies at the Santa Fe Art Institute, Teton Art Lab, Trifecta Hibernaculum, and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. He was a 2016/2017 Charles Bullard Fellow in Forest Research at Harvard University. Currently as a Harvard Forest Associate Fellow, Borden continues to work with Harvard scientists to answer the question, “How can art and design foster cultural cohesion around environmental issues and help inform ecology-minded decision making.”

Urbano Project brings together local youth and professional artists to ignite social change through place-based participatory art and performance projects. Together we foster future generations of creative and civic leaders committed to social justice.

Support for Urbano Project has been provided by the Barr/Klarman Foundations, The Boston Foundation, Surdna Foundation, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Boston Cultural Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Frank Reed and Margaret Jane Peters Memorial Fund, the Esther B. Kahn Charitable Foundation, the Paul and Edith Babson Foundation, the State Street Foundation and the generous support of individual donors.