Fall 2012 Editor’s Statement

Welcome to the first edition of ARID: A Journal of Desert Art, Design and Ecology!

ARID is the result of a new partnership between University of New Mexico’s Art & Ecology Program, Desert Initiative at Arizona State University, Arid Lands Institute at Woodbury University and others who have recognized the need for a creative and scholarly venue for contemporary works addressing desert culture, environment and landscape. Developments in desert art and ecology are not confined to formal art and scholarship, but also extend to new pedagogic practices, research methods and methodologies, and social and activist modes of engaging with the arid landscape.  This inaugural issue begins to define the scope of the journal, offering a variety of important works and research that range from contemporary explorations to historical reflection.

Our focus is global. Each issue will include selections from other arid places around the world. The links that connect those of us globally within our unique desert ecologies are tied to the phenomena of ‘aridity,’ the severe lack of available water within a particular environment or climate that is in itself distinctive, specific and noteworthy. Arid places across the globe face unique challenges and we believe we can learn from each other.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), deserts have been warming at an average rate between 0.2 to 0.8ºC per decade, much higher than the average global temperature increase of 0.45ºC per decade.[1] In July 2012, the Unites States Department of Agriculture declared our current drought the largest natural disaster area in U.S. history.[2] An increase in severe and prolonged droughts, destructive fires of unprecedented scale, decreased vegetation and massive extinctions are already a part of the new desert.

Desertification is increasing globally.[3] Within desert regions, increasing urbanization and rapidly expanding populations are placing new demands on the environment, calling for radical urban planning, especially with regard to water allocation and accessibility. These conditions, in turn, exacerbate demands on other environmental and ecological resources – potentially leading to political and social unrest – as witnessed along the U.S./Mexico international border.

These issues are potent subjects for investigation by artists, designers, architects, scientists, researchers and other cultural producers. What creative solutions and innovation can be fostered through an interdisciplinary approach to these issues? How can cultural producers help promote and educate diverse audiences in creative sustainable practices through their work? How can new pedagogies promote understanding of these issues related to our particular needs in this very specific environment? These questions are among the important issues explored through ARID and its contributors.

We hope you also enjoy the inquiries and investigations in this launching issue, and join in future issues, investigations and conversations!

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2172931/Drought-devastating-26-states-largest-natural-disaster-U-S-history.html. Accessed August 27, 2012.

[2] IPCC (2001). “Climate Change 2001. Working Group I, Third Assessment Report”. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

[3] Ibid.


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