UC Santa Cruz Arts Division presents “Search Party”

The second annual MFA show from the Environmental Art & Social Practice program

The Environmental Art & Social Practice (EASP) MFA looks at the intersection of the arts in terms of climate change and other systemic conflicts. This year’s MFA show is the second ever and features work from seven artists. 

“They are a cohort of artistic researchers,” says Lecturer Yolande Harris, who organized the exhibition. Search Party is the culminating exhibition of the EASP MFA program. Seven artists – Génesis de las Olas, Jingtian Zong, Kevin Corcoran, Lee Chang Ming, Leslie Horwitz, Raty Syka, and Shane Scopatz – present new projects developed through concentrated inquiry over a two-year period. Search Party is curated by Yolande Harris in collaboration with the artists of the EASP 2024 cohort and Valéria Miranda, Director of the Sesnon Galleries. 

Search Party offers a window into seven artists’ unique long-term research projects that expand beyond the gallery space. In the form of image, sound, movement, and intervention, their works collectively examine the fragile and flawed conditions of our time and search for alternative possibilities. In this party, social and environmental contexts tangle up, weave together, and run parallel.

Research projects include Kevin Corcoran’s Landslip Frequencies which examines the sites and sounds of Bay Area shorelines focusing on landfill and erosion. These four audio-visual works trace ways in which human activity and elemental forces become tangled up in placemaking.

When it came to curating the exhibition, Harris let her students have a more hands-on experience. As opposed to normal curation which involves creating a theme and choosing from existing art and artists, Harris had to work to make seven separate works come together under one umbrella. This was all made significantly more difficult by the fact that artists were still working on their pieces as the exhibit was being organized.

One such piece is the performance of A Worried Song  by Shane Scopatz which will happen at intervals on both April 25 and May 2. This essay turned dance performance combines movement, improvisation, quoted text, personal narrative to investigate how Jewish people are used in ecological politics.

It took many group discussions before Harris and the artists could come up with a title that encompassed all their work. “They're all engaged in searching for something,” says Harris. This becomes especially true when considering the overlap between art and environmentalism in the EASP program. “There's this urgency of climate change, of disaster.” The goal of the artists was to search through the rubble of climate change and find, if not a solution, a vision of a better future. As for the “party” part of the title it holds dual meaning both as a description of a collection of people and as a celebration of their work.

Though many of the works are still in progress leading up to the exhibition, the artists still had a chance to experiment in the space. Since the on-campus Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery had a space of time with no exhibitions, Harris asked her students to install  their work at least once or twice there. This not only gave the students time for understanding how their art affects an audience, but also allowed time to determine how everyone’s pieces would come together in that gallery.

The work of the EASP program is already somewhat at odds with the concept of gallery exhibitions. Harris describes art’s move away from traditional gallery settings saying artists are moving into “the social space” or “the environmental.”This year Yolande is excited to give students a voice and platform now that they will be emerging into the world as full time artists.

More Information


Friday April 19 – May 19, 2024

Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery @ Porter College

UC Santa Cruz

1156 High St

Santa Cruz, CA 95064

Opening Reception

April 19, 2024

5:00-7:00 PM

A Worried Song – dance performance

April 25,May 2 & May 9,

5:30 PM – 6:30 PM

RSVP here.


Lot 124 & 125 are the closest parking lots to the gallery

Parking is by UCSC permit or ParkMobile app

Directions and parking information here