Citizen Science: Hollis Moore in the Studio

June 29, 2018 by

“First art needs to collect your attention and encompass you in a viewing experience” Studio Workspace resident Hollis Moore says, “and second it might become a space to learn something.” Contextualized by place and environmental issues, Moore directly engages her art with the landscape in a “collaborative” effort to “try and figure out their voice.” She explains, “I’m really interested in what happens when a print is out in the landscape, in the residue of the experience.” 

Moore bridges the gaps between science, art, and environmentalism. Exploring the area, gathering water and plant samples to examine under a microscope, she creates stencil cut-outs of the tiny organisms she sees. From her background in reductive woodcuts, Moore is familiar working with graphic images and layering colors; creating stencils for silkscreen allows her to carry a visual vocabulary from one print medium to another. The stencils also render the experience of emergence, a moment of clarity, “when you’re looking at a slide, things are kind of fuzzy” she explains, “but when they come into focus they have this amazing edge and it feels like what you’re seeing is really present.”

Moore is the first to admit she does not always know what she is looking for, but it’s the act of engagement and curiosity that sustains her, “my movement through the world is my research, it’s walking or running or hiking. That’s where I both start to look at things I want to make work about and where I process my ideas.” Her interactions with her surroundings become “this wonderful space for creativity, reflection, and research.”

Using art as a way to investigate environmental topics, Moore’s collaborations with nature can be ephemeral, lasting only through documentation of the process. Through this she aims to communicate, “not necessarily scientific ideas, but rather an awareness of ecological systems” that, when altered affect lives and communities. Her practice speaks to the concept of “citizen science”, which she explains as “those with firsthand knowledge of their environment, like kids, farmers, and fisherman, using their knowledge to gather data and contribute to long term research.”

Moore brought a paper microscope called a Foldscope with her, through which she’s been able to conduct the research for this current project. The microscope is inexpensive, portable, and easily assembled. Such a tool helps make research like this accessible to many people, “when people start to feel connected to systems that surround them then they’ll feel like they can have a voice for those systems and become leaders in some way.”

By design these prints evoke the feeling of looking through a microscope. On large sheets of Thai Kozo, shapes become recurring characters that drift across the page—they intermingle and cluster then float apart. To see all of them together creates a sense of movement, of life suspended in water. Printing on both sides of the paper, muted colors emerge and are overlapped by bold ones, creating the illusion that figures are coming in and out of focus. This series is playful and colorful, the compositions are scattered yet retain a sense of balance, “I think the playful quality has to do with getting people excited about their own backyard and feeling connected to nature in some way” Moore explains, “it helps evoke a sense of curiosity and wonder in the world.”  

Moore’s prints are abstracted enough to be viewed on their own, but knowing the context in which they are made opens the door to big picture questions about the environment and our relationship to it, “I hope that people will feel connected to their surroundings, to their place whatever it is, and therefore develop some sort of environmental conscious.” During Open Studio, Moore constructed a loose structure out of her test prints on the back porch. Strung together on lines, swaying in the breeze, book artist Maureen Cummings comments “they look like prayer flags for the wetlands.”

Currently, Hollis is a MFA Candidate in Printmaking at the University of New Mexico. She is a SITE Santa Fe Scholar and awardee of the Land Arts International Travel Grant with support of the Lannan Foundation to complete her MFA thesis on revitalization projects in the Colorado River Delta in Baja and Sonora, Mexico. The project will be exhibited at the Open Space Gallery Visitor Center in Albuquerque, NM. Moore has participated in artist residencies with Land Arts of the American West, LEAP at the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, and Signal Fire Arts. Her work has been included in Emergency Index Performance Publication and in group shows at the Santa Fe Art Institute, Tamarind Institute, and Texas A & M University Islander Gallery. Moore completed her BA at Colorado College in 2013 and she worked as an apprentice printer for Oehme Graphics Fine Arts Publishing in Steamboat Springs, CO. Find her most current project at

Marisa Malone is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been published in Selfish Magazine and BlazeVox Journal   and she has self-published two chapbooks of poetry.