about the urban tepee project

Artists’ Footprints, one of the Biennial of the Americas 2010 exhibitions in Denver, Colorado, explores the boundaries of art and life through innovative systems of creation and production. Throughout this exhibition, artists compost, grow, reuse, and gather supplies to reduce their carbon footprint. Inspired by simple ways of living and creating across the world from Ecuador to Mongolia, artists offer alternatives to over-consumption.

As part of the Artist’s Footprints exhibit at Redline during the Biennial of the Americas, I traveled by bicycle from Boulder to Denver with my urban tent.  The journey was documented and exhibited along with the tent at Redline.

The urban tent is made of discarded plastic shopping bags and is inspired by my time living and working with the nomadic people of Mongolia. I originally traveled to Mongolia in 1992 and spent 2 years living in a ger (traditional yurt) while living with the Mongols. During this time, I witnessed the country’s rapid transformation from communism towards a free market economy. The economic and social changes I witnessed have forced many Mongolians to leave their traditional ways behind. Their once nomadic culture has been steadily vanishing as many young Mongols have become quick to abandon traditional ways for a more western influenced lifestyle in the newly formed urban centers. As one of the few remaining nomadic populations left in our world, only some 40 percent of the Mongolians still raise animals on the steppes (grasslands) as their ancestors once did. The animal bones left behind from hunting and slaughters that speckled the vast Mongolian grasslands in the past, are being replaced today by plastic bags and other post consumer waste products that litter these same once pristine steppes.