Loving Orphaned Space, the art and science of belonging to Earth (from Temple University Press, May 2022) began as a very personal preoccupation with the scattered bits of open space surrounding us, much of it dedicated to infrastructure and often ignored and abused. Why did I care about these spaces, I wondered. Why did I want to know more about each one of them? By following artists (literally) as they ventured into such spaces, occupying them in different ways, my feelings expanded into belonging and responsibility, awareness and respect, as well as delight and surprise. I celebrate the connections between art and science that inspired artists as they sought to expand our thinking on common challenges. At core are new stories and new relationships through which we give these spaces meaning in our lives and rethink our infrastructure. New stories reject functionalist narratives about the environment as "useful," and enable us to confront what our privilege has made invisible and to celebrate new voices and new stories about our common dwelling place called Earth.
WATCH the book launch at Art+Literature Laboratory with readings by the author and presentations from artists Kristin Thielking, Lisa Beth Robinson, and Lillian Sizemore, with a moderated QnA with writer Erik Ness
Catalyzed by the work of artists including Mierle Laderman Ukeles and M. Jenea Sanchez and by a series of case studies of art-science collaborations, the book offers a guide to seeing everyday space as a portal through which we can discover old stories and tell new ones about how we dwell on Earth. Charting new paths can be challenging and complicated, the author reveals, but good stories always have twists and turns.
Environmental artist Stacy Levy has said of the book, “In a time when people need places to gather and be outside in nature, Loving Orphaned Space is an essential guide for how to activate forgotten spaces in our landscape.” Gary Paul Nabhan, author of many books including Food from the Radical Center: Healing Our Land and Communities, comments, “Mrill Ingram gets it right in this hopeful yet haunting book: the only way to restore purpose and power to abandoned, uncared-for spaces is to re-story them as places of the heart. Always a deep, compassionate thinker, Ingram now joins the ranks of America’s most compelling writers—Robin Wall Kimmerer, Gretel Ehrlich, Janisse Ray, and Rebecca Solnit—who help us reflect on broken landscapes and our longing to heal them to heal ourselves.”
Samuel Dennis Jr., Professor of Planning and Landscape Architecture and Director of the Environmental Design Lab at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, says, “Ingram’s stories have changed the way I see and think about the land around me. I now see orphaned land wherever I go, and because of this book, I know how—and why—to love and care for these places.”