Back to search

'The West' goes East

Filmmaker takes story of California water to New York audience

Most Californians are familiar with how struggles over water have shaped the modern American West.

Enid Baxter Blader will help to educate New Yorkers about that history on Sept. 28, when her video, “The West,” will be projected onto the Manhattan Bridge anchorage and archway.

“The West” is an animation that presents a history of water engineering in California, a history that has determined the colonization and contemporary conditions of the western United States. The version that will be shown in New York is drawn from a longer film that features a score by If Thousands, and is part of the Water, CA video and book project co-edited with Nicole Antebi. “I've never made such a labor-intensive series,” said Blader, chair of CSUMB’s Teledramatic Arts and Technology Department and associate professor of experimental film.

Blader’s work will be shown as part of Codex Dynamic, a large-scale video projection exhibition that’s part of the annual Dumbo Arts Festival in Brooklyn.

“Featuring video artworks by internationally renowned video artists, the Codex exhibition is epic-size eye candy that transforms space, time and our perceived reality,” said the Huffington Post.

Blader’s artworks have been shown at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles; Location One in New York; Sundance; and in Vienna, London, Glasgow and Mallorca, among other places. In March 2008, she was included in the Getty Museum’s retrospective California Video, 1960-present. Her 2009 animation, Olive’s Backyard Concert, screens on PBS stations in California. A collection of her works, A Film is A Burning Place, was released by Microcinema International in 2009. In 2011, she co-wrote an interpretive guide to the Crocker Art Museum’s collection of American painting based on the themes of water and the environment. Her work has been written about in the New York Times, Artforum, Artreviews, DVD Talk and many other books, journals and magazines. She earned a bachelor of fine arts from The Cooper Union (1996), was a fellow at Yale University and received her MFA with a fellowship from Claremont Graduate University (2000).

The Brooklyn event kicks off a very busy month for Blader that includes shows and appearances related to the water project.

Here’s what’s happening:

• On Oct. 5, she will give tours of The Huntington's European and American historical collections through an environmental and post-colonial lens. “I'll talk about what the paintings mean contextualized within the history of Anglo Americans’ relationships with the American West, its people and its landscapes,” Blader said.

• On Oct. 6, the Water, CA project will be featured in an exhibition at the Armory Center for Arts in Pasadena. “The West” will be projected and screened continuously in the museum's galleries.

Also on display will be the Water, CA website and two paintings created for the museum. One shows California without water engineering (prior to dams) and the second is California with contemporary water projects in place. (One of the paintings is displayed above.) • On Oct. 16, Blader will give part of a plenary address to several thousand scientists at the biennial Bay-Delta Science Conference.

• On Oct. 17, she will chair a panel at the conference on the topic, “Not Just a Pretty Picture: The Synergy between Art and Science.”

That evening, an exhibition featuring the work of six artists she curated for the conference as well as “The West” will open at the Sacramento Convention Center.

R ead more faculty news