the land of ‘grassy water’


The initial idea for this exhibition originated from an online panel ARTSail and ArtServe co-organized exactly one year ago in April 2021, titled Understanding Lake Okeechobee: Crucible of Farmland, Ranchland and Wetland. During the hour-long conversation, we explored the complexities of the Lake O. region, addressing some of the social and ecological issues the local communities and natural ecosystem are impacted by today. 

Over the past 12 months, exhibition curator, and ARTSail Executive Director, Ombretta Agró Andruff, along with resident artist, Christina Pettersson, conducted expeditions in the region, interviewing activists, scientists and experts to better understand the threats to this unique ecosystem originally known by the acronym KLOE: the Kissimmee-Lake Okeechobee-Everglades watershed. 

Before drainage and canalization efforts started in the late 1880s, this entire system originated near the present location of Orlando, flowing from the Kissimmee River and smaller streams into Lake Okeechobee, and from there, in the summer months, overflowing creating more streams, swamps and marshes all the way to Florida Bay.  

Tragically, what is left today is a far cry from the rich and diverse ecosystem that first explorers encountered: Ever-increasing population and urban development, industry, and agriculture have resulted in large metropolitan areas, stressing the surrounding natural environments and destroying more than half of the original Everglades. On the upside, restoration efforts, initiated in 2000 with the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), and the tireless advocacy from NGOs and dedicated individuals alike, are generating positive effects by restoring the historical water flow and enhancing the protection of biodiversity in specific areas of the National Park and beyond.  

Curated by

Ombretta Agró Andruff

Executive Director of ARTSail




We have gathered in this exhibition the work of ten South Florida artists, with the addition of Berlin-based Simon Faithfull, a 2018 ARTSail fellow, that captures in unique and profound ways the beauty, fragility, and diversity of the Florida Wetlands and the flora and fauna that inhabits them.

The artists’ contribution span a variety of media: From lens-based work by Faithfull and Strauss, to fiber work and tapestries by Alfonso and Linderman, through powerful multi-media installations and drawings by Pettersson, Mitchell, Efrein and Aleman, and the delicate watercolors by Condon.

Art has become an indispensable method for increasing knowledge, fostering appreciation, and inspiring action within the environmental movement. We hope that through this exhibition and the related educational program the audience will explore, learn, and ultimately fall in love with the incredibly important ecosystem that lies in our backyard.

This exhibition is dedicated to Maggy Hurchalla, a tireless, fierce, and unapologetic environmental advocate, who continues to inspire us to fight on behalf of our precious ecosystems. Our kayak expedition ‘to the end of the world’ will never be forgotten!


Known for her nature-inspired work in soft sculpture, fused plastic installations, and stuffed textile collages, Alissa Alfonso, communicates and captures the freedom inherent in nature, recognizes lost and disappearing landscapes, and warns of a future in which nature can no longer heal itself. 

She repurposes textile waste and found materials to establish a message about the abundance and wasteful characteristics of modern life. 

“Nature’s Medicine” soft sculpture collection is delicately detailed, hand-dyed, textile waste modeled after traditional medicinal plants, fungi, and botanicals. The fused plastic “clouds” and “jellyfish” that hang from wire or float across pools in her installation works are both elegant and melancholy. The melted plastic installations represent the silent beauty of nature as a connection between the overuse of plastics and declining life in the world’s waterways and oceans. 

Alfonso’s fiber landscapes are created from hand-dyed textile waste, that’s cut, sewn, and stuffed fabric. The depth-manipulation in these pieces is inspired by trapunto quilting, sculptural relief art, lucid puffy dreams, and fading environments that cannot heal themselves. 

Alissa is currently working on soft-sculpting parts for a functional lighting series consistent with healing plants and botanicals.

Christina Pettersson was born in Stockholm, Sweden and grew up in Miami, Florida. Her large-scale drawings, videos, sculptural installations and group performances focus on the history and environment of Florida. Local residencies and exhibitions in nontraditional spaces like Everglades National Park, Biscayne Nature Center, and the Deering Estate reflect her lifelong passion for her hometown and its complex ecosystems. Public programming and local collaborations have become central to her art practice, engaging the audience in an understanding of their own world on a deeper level. 

She is the recipient of a Knight Grant, Ellies Creator Award, and Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship, and is a Fulbright Scholar. She is in the collections of the Perez Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Miami, Bass Museum of Art, Margulies Collection, and the Four Seasons Hotel. She is the 2021-22 ARTSail artist in residence, a nomadic research-based residency, collaborating with Friends of the Everglades to create an illustrated compendium of urgent water issues in South Florida. 

“Years from now, when Florida’s marshy Everglades are buried under liters of salt and sea, Christina Pettersson’s work will be its haunting tombstone. Conflating Florida’s sordid history with future visions of a paradise lost, her work embodies the mythical and outlandish character that has earned Florida its weird reputation. 

Lawless frontiers, ancient burial grounds, poisonous vermin, and ghostly figures appear in her work as both homage and warning. With her subject matter driven primarily by research, Pettersson works across mediums and often, site-specifically. A recent project at the Deering Estate, for example, incorporated both drawing and performance and considered the historic building’s standing on an archaeological site. In her studio, a stately chandelier hangs above a sepia-toned wallpaper, imprinted with tropical flora; self-portraits are realized in cameos and feature the artist in late-19th-century garb. Memorializing the spirit of Florida, Pettersson’s work isn’t meant to be hopeful; it’s meant as a call to the dead.” – Nicole Martinez

As an artist, not a documentarian, I approach how our existence has had an effect on the environment. I believe that everything is connected, and am driven by field research to interpret the value of biodiversity, and what it means in our changing world. My practice builds on photographs of fieldwork to document powerful experiences and ground the moment in realism. Back in the studio, my photo-based work may be used in video or cyanotypes and is often blended with layers of data, paint, and fabric.  The resulting collages present the viewer with a creative perspective of changes in our contemporary landscape. As such, my process-based approach is both scientific and intuitive, meaning that the research is based on facts, but my interpretation is influenced by my relationship with the subject.

Born in Canada to Scottish immigrants, I spent the winters of my youth following the vast Atlantic migration corridor south in search of warmer weather. I have vivid memories of watching birds fly in sync with our family car; overdramatic mountain ranges, past golden prairies, and through lush southern wetlands. This annual family ritual is the foundation for my ever-present wonder and appreciation of nature, and the anchor of my pursuit of environmental knowledge.

These early experiences are mirrored in my practice as a South Florida-based visual artist, as I continue visiting migration flyways to increase my knowledge of our relationship with the American wilderness.  When representing the ecological issues facing our global communities, fact-checking and cultural research is just as important as the subject, composition, color, and context of my work.

My empathetic relationship with highly contested landscapes has evolved over the last 50 years, from youthful exploration to becoming a certified Florida Master Naturalist.

I am heavily influenced by collaboration with research centers, indigenous tribes, biologists, and park staff.   These relationships have increased my stewardship and inspired me to bring critical conservation issues to a wider audience. The resulting work presents a unique interpretation of concepts, such as the growing number of endangered species living in a threatened biosphere. Sometimes, my work evokes memories of a bygone era and weaves together the cultural fabric of displaced human populations and decreasing biodiversity.

As an artist, I approach how our sense of place has affected the environment. My practice is rooted in a passion to share critical interpretations of nature’s resources in a way that is approachable to the public at large, and that results in increased appreciation, protection, and conservation of our dwindling natural resources.

Deborah Mitchell

Elisabeth Condon is known for paintings that overlap natural and built environments. Linking scroll painting with the decorative wallpapers of her childhood home, Condon incorporates their motifs in paintings and public artworks such as Urban Idyll, commissioned by MTA Art & Design Percent for Art for the NYCT Astoria-Ditmars Blvd. Station in Queens.

Condon’s paintings are held in the collections of Tampa Museum of Art, Perez Art Museum Miami, Hudson River Museum, United States Embassy Beijing, and numerous private collections throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. She is the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant, the Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant, and a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship. Condon’s fellowships include residencies at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel Shanghai, UCross Foundation, Yaddo, MacDowell, Wave Hill, Montello Foundation, Carrizozo, and National Parks residencies at the Grand Canyon and Florida Everglades.

Condon holds degrees from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago (MFA) and Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design, Los Angeles (BFA). For eleven years, she held tenure as Associate Professor at the University of South Florida Tampa. Born in Los Angeles, Condon now lives and works in New York, NY, and Tampa, FL. Her work is represented by Emerson Dorsch, Miami.

My paintings translate landscape two-dimensionally. Nature, décor, and abstraction intersect in a form of synthetic landscape. In warmer climes, paint thins to the consistency of ink while in the city, texture, and density accrue. Wallpaper patterns overlap interior space, maps, and urban topography. Pours of translucent color and drawn forms, calligraphy ink and plastic, and other disparate elements co-exist. 


In the 1960s and ’70s America, I experienced the Asian-inspired and Country French décor in my childhood homes as confining. Staring into the patterns dissolved the repeats into a calligraphic landscape. Now, free the patterns in flows of color releases single-point perspective and figure/ground relationships in simultaneous time. The landscape becomes a living, breathing presence, felt as much as observed.  

From Brooklyn, NY, Jenna Efrein currently lives and works in Miami, Florida. She is a Senior Lecturer of Glass at the University of Miami (’14). Efrein received her MFA from Alfred University School of Art and Design in Sculpture/Dimensional Studies (’09). Some solo shows include: “Outside In” (‘21) ArtsWarehouse in Delray Beach, Florida, “We are HERE” (‘17), University of Miami Gallery, Miami Florida, “Verdant Plunderland” (‘16) Mindy Solomon Gallery, Miami Florida. She was included in “Trace” (‘21) as part of the Glass Art Society Green Exhibition. 

Efrein received an “Artist Access Grant” (‘18) from the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and FUNDarte. She has maintained a residency at Bakehouse Art Complex (‘15-) in Miami, Florida. 

She attended The Vermont Studio Residency, Johnson, Vermont (2018) on a Merit Scholarship and the Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna, Florida (‘21) as part of the Oolite Arts Home and Away Program.

I upcycle glass and plastic bottles and plastic bags into sculptures and installations. I blow, fuse, bend, cast, and flamework bottle glass, sometimes obfuscating its original form, sometimes not. The plastic remains as it is and will be for eons. I am the local recycling center for those in my community, giving purpose to their trash.

Thematically, my art spans from ecology to community and the space in-between. My work brings socio-ecological concerns to the forefront of people’s minds. I utilize the familiarity and luster of the material. The work expresses beauty and calamity. Collectively, it creates an environment to seduce, emphasize and create space for conversation.

Laurencia Strauss is a non-binary queer mixed white settler and Latinx first-generation US artist and landscape designer from Miami. Their participatory projects, interventions, and community-based designs have been shared nationally and internationally as experiences of mutual vulnerability and care that challenge us to adapt towards a greater sense of interdependence. Amidst social and environmental justice, their work attends to grief as a catalyst.

They have worked with communities in many Florida cities and in St. Louis, Kansas City, Providence, New York, Buenos Aires and Porto Alegre. They have been an Artist in Residence with Oolite Arts, Vermont Studio Center, and Radical Intention at The Luminary as well as many other organizations across the US and in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. Each location allows new opportunities and exercises their practices of responding to both sites and social contexts. They have received numerous grants and fellowships. A Danforth Scholar at Washington University in St. Louis, they also earned degrees at

Rhode Island School of Design, California College of the Arts, and Oberlin College. As part of Fifty-Fifty art collective, they have exhibited in Miami, Key West, Yerba Buena Cultural Arts Center / San Francisco, and forthcoming in Puerto Rico.

Lucinda Linderman is a sculptor working primarily with consumer waste and salvaged materials to raise awareness about current environmental issues. After graduating with a B.A. in biology, Lucinda apprenticed with sculptor John Henry for many years, honing both her technical skills and aesthetic sense. Graduating from the University of Miami with an MFA in 2009, her work now reflects her love for science, art, and nature.

Hand felted maps detailing sea-level rise over the next century. They are created using reclaimed materials and sustainably sourced wool. Information used to create these maps was gathered from the NASA website, nautical maps, and the Eyes on the Rise Flood App. 

To ensure accuracy all of the information was vetted through environmental scientist Galen Truer. 

If we maintain our current habits, going about business as usual, we can expect the sea level to rise 3 feet within 50 years, and 5 feet by the turn of the century, drastically changing the way we live in South Florida. 

This does not account for temporal changes during King tides or storm surges, but an overall change.

Priscilla Aleman is a visual artist based in New York.  Aleman graduated from Columbia University with her MFA in sculpture. Upon graduating she continued her art practice in Miami working with archaeologists conducting an intimate investigation of South Florida’s relationship to the Tropics and the Latin America Landscape. 

Bringing an understanding of past traditions in the Americas and its environmental history,  Aleman crafts her own sanctified installations as deified monuments and memorials. Her most recent solo exhibition “Origins of Devotion”  opened at The Wave Hill Sunroom Project Space (2021) in New York. 

Aleman has exhibited in group shows at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (2009) Washington DC, The Margulies Collection (2009) Miami Florida,  YoungArts (2009, 2018, 2020) Miami Florida, among other venues. 

She has participated as Artist-in-Residence at Wheaton Arts (2019) New Jersey, Bronx Museum AIM fellowship (2019), Art + Research Center at ICA Miami (2020), is a project resident at The Deering Estate (2020), and has received numerous awards including The Elizabeth Greenshield Foundation Fellowship (2020), Cintas artist relief (2020), Columbia University Travel Grant (2019), and is a U.S. Presidential Scholar alumna. 

Based in Berlin, Simon Faithfull’s work has been exhibited extensively around the world. Recent exhibitions include the solo shows Fata Morgana at the Atchugarry Foundation, Miami; Fathom at the Exchange, Penzance, UK; Elsewhen at Hestercombe Gallery, Somerset, An Arbitrary Taxonomy of Birds at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Memories From The Future at Galerie Polaris (Paris); Sprinhornhof Kunstverein (Germany), Musee des Beaux-Arts (Calais), Fabrica (Brighton,) FRAC Basse Normandie (France) and the British Film Institute (London).  Recent group shows include exhibitions at Parafin (London), Maison Rouge (Paris), ACC Gwangju (Korea), Turner Contemporary (UK), CCCB (Barcelona), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), and Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (Australia).

Faithfull’s practice has been described as an attempt to understand and explore the planet as a sculptural object – to test its limits and report back from its extremities. Within his work, he often builds teams of scientists, technicians and transmission experts to help him bring back a personal vision from the ends of the world. He works with a variety of media – ranging from video to digital drawing, installation work, and writing. Faithfull was born in Braziers Park – a utopian community in Ipsden, Oxfordshire. He studied at Central St Martins, London, and then the University of Reading. He is also a Professor of Fine Art at The Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, London.

At the forefront of high-resolution digital photography and digital manipulation, his prints combine multiple image files at very high resolution to create ultra-sharp photographs for mural-sized prints. The core collection is comprised of many of his greatest photographs that can be custom printed and framed in large or medium sizes on a choice of archival pigment papers or dye-sublimation metal prints. His “Oddessy” and “Juxtapose” series use his personally developed post-production techniques to achieve stunning effects for printed photographic art.

Tom Grill has been a top commercial photographer in New York City for over twenty years. For the past five years, he has lived and worked in Boca Raton, Florida where he fell in love with the landscape of the Everglades, the ocean, and weather phenomena as the main subjects of his art photography.

Join us for a pre-reception conversation with Pa-Hay-Okee The Land of ‘Grassy Water’ artists Deborah MitchellJenna EfreinChristina Pettersson, and Organizing Representative for the local Sierra Club Chapter, Diana Umpierre;  moderated by Ombretta Agró AndruffARTSail Executive Director and the curator of our current exhibition. Save your seat HERE!