Playing with Fire Symposium

🔥 Register here.

October 7-9.
We will explore the pleasures, perils & politics of fire through art, theory, practice, and activism.  On the UCSC campus in the DARC building, room #108. More info

Confirmed speakers and participants include:

Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle: Keynote
Roxi Power Zig Zag: Fire Poems
Becca Fenwick: Director, CITRIS Initiative for Drone Education and Research: Presenting UCNRS Fire Data
Karin Bolender: Artist and Director of the Rural Alchemy Workshop (RAW)
Justin Hoover, Artist and Director of the Chinese Historical Society of America
Brandon Smith, Director of the Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program (FFRC)
Benny Fillmore, Washoe Elder and Former Hotshot Firefighter
Laura Smith-Fillmore, Artist and Translator
Helen Fillmore, Environmentalist, Former Hotshot Firefighter
Julie Weitz, Artist: Golem: A Call to Action + Prayer for Burnt Forests
Heather and Michael Llewellyn: Artists and Curators of FORESTFIRE Exhibition
Kim TallBear, Professor of Native Studies, University of Alberta 


Everyone is welcome. The symposium is free.

All events take place at the UCSC DARC building. Google map link here. It's a big campus, be sure to follow our link! There are many food options for purchase on campus, have a look at the cafe link here.  We've also got a great link with directions to the DARC building hereYou can find everything else you need below, but if you have any additional questions, shoot us an email at, and we'll be happy to answer.



WHERE: All events are at UCSC in DARC #108 (Digital Arts Research Center), except where noted.

Friday, October 7

Time Event


Honoring our Environmental Art Ancestors: a Tribute to Newton and Helen Harrison

Presentation by Lauren Bon to celebrate the groundbreaking environmental work of the the Harrison Studio.

Open Mic for sharing stories about the Harrisons

Meet and Mingle with friends and colleagues of the Harrisons as well as with speakers and attendees.

Saturday, October 8

At UCSC in DARC #108 (Digital Arts Research Center)

Time  Event
Morning Gathering

Coffee, tea and breakfast nibbles.

A Warm Welcome & Introduction

Playing with Fire: an overview, Art professor, Beth Stephens, with artist, filmmaker Annie Sprinkle.

Smoldering Embers

Kali Rubaii, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Purdue University: Burn Pits 
Kim TallBear, Professor of Native Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, CA->
On Fire
Becca Fenwick, Director of UCSC's CITRIS Program -->
A Drone's Eye View of the UC Natural Reserve System

Lunch Break

Ambient performance. (TBA)

Art and Artists On Fire

Heather and Michael Llewellyn: Artists and Curators of FORESTFIRE Exhibition
Laura Smith-Fillmore Artist and Translator-> Fire: the word for wildfire in Wà:šiw is yengi’iši’ or the plural of ‘running’ or literally ‘everything is running’ 
Justin Hoover: Artist and Curator -> Chinese Funerary Fires
Tracy Brown Artivist AAACC Fellow: Pure Love

Flaming Desires

Nicole Rudolph-Vallerga
Courtney Desiree Morris
Karin Bolender, Artist and director of the Rural Alchemy Studio: T
he Rodeo Queen of the Pyrocene!  

Dinner Break
Feel the Heat: An Evening of Live Art and Film

Sopera de Yemaya, 20 minute film, by Courtney Desiree Morris
Justin Hoover: Two Buckets
Karin Bolender aka Khaw 
Roxi Hamilton: Fire Poems

Sunday, October 9

At UCSC in DARC #108 (Digital Arts Research Center)

Community Open Mike

Hosted by (TBA). Any and all attendees that want to can speak, perform, announce, comment, etc., for five minutes. 

Closing and Final Comments facilitated by Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle

Time  Event

Coffee, tea and breakfast nibbles.

Firefighter Stories

Brandon Smith, Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program, FFRP
Julie Weitz, Artist
Benny Fillmore, Wašišiw Elder, Hotshot Firefighter
Helen Fillmore, Environmental Scientist and Hot Shot Firefighter

Lunch Break


Community Open Mike

Hosted by (TBA). Any and all attendees that want to can speak, perform, announce, comment, etc., for five minutes. 

Closing and Final Comments facilitated by Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle



Food available for purchase around campus, or feel free to bring your own.


There is a fee to park in the UCSC parking lot. Our beloved parking enforcement team is extremely vigilant. Please follow the link here to avoid an expensive ticket.  


We want you to be warm, comfortable, and cozy. Here are some places to stay:

Camping: The Redwood Resort has free camping for symposium participants and their close guests. This includes shower and restroom facilities. They're great friends of Annie and Beth, and are co-sponsoring this event! Please keep in mind that they're a 40 minute drive from UCSC. The map link is here. If you want to use this option, please contact Beth Stephens

You may also like Henry Cowell State Park. They don't have a website, but the map link and phone number is here.

Hostels: There are lots of options here.

Hotels: A list of all hotels in Santa Cruz can be found here.

We love staying at The Ocean Pacific Lodge. They're offering a 10% discount for our symposium, just mention that you're going to UCSC when you book. We've had a great time there in the past, and it's a nice mid-priced hotel. A google map is here. For a high end experience, we recommend the Dream Inn. Their location is right next to the ocean, with incredible views.


Heartfelt thanks to our collaborators friends and sponsors

Dean's Fund for Excellence and the UCSC Office of Research

Thank you to the Ocean Pacific Lodge, UCSC catering, and India Joez. Thanks also to the incredible technical team of the Digital Arts Research Center.

Special thanks to our generous, amazing hosts: Donna Haraway, Shelly Errington, Nada Miljkovic, Kyle McKinley & Jennifer Gonzalez.

Our dear friends who gave their time to help us with this event: Scott Brandt, Dean Solt, ARI, Center for Science and Justice, Center for Arts and Science, Redwood Resort, Feminist Studies, Jennifer Gonzalez, Jordan Phillibert, Lindsay Moffat, Rachel Smith, Cowell College--Alex, Kristin Grace Erickson, Julie Rogge, Dr. Gary Greenberg.

Thanks also to the amazing UCSC staff.



Thank you everyone who gave their time and resources to help us with this event:

ARI, Center for Science and Justice, Center for Arts and

Science, Redwood Resort,

The amazing UCSC staff.

Thanks UCSC catering,

Thanks again to Nada Miljkovic’s KSQID.

Extra special kudos to Rogge Design for the poster designs.

Thank you all for coming!

Earth day photo

Library on Earth Day

It’s part performance art happening, part environmentalism and part sex-3d! Discuss your hopes and concerns, learn about ecosexuality and imagine abundant futures in the face of global climate crisis. Share what’s ailing you and receive a (collectible) prescription for ecosensual activities that will help you to feel better. In collaboration with the San Francisco Public Library. For more information about the event click here.

Seedbed poster


This multimedia symposium took place from April 26-27, 2018 at the UCSC Fram & Garden. In collaboration with the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CAVS), the E.A.R.T.H. Lab hosted this interdisciplinary event. It featured visual artwork installed throughout campus, performances, interactive activities and meals. Panels were held in the Cowell Ranch Hay Barn exploring a diverse range of topics from microbes to waste management, labor and farming; the magic composting and soil science. Seedbed explored how climate change and human industry have endangered our topsoils – rendering it deadly- as well as the amazing life sustaining potential of what we call “dirt.” 

For more information on this event click here.

Environmentalism Outside the Box

Environmentalism Outside the Box: An Ecosex Symposium

This symposium took place in and around the Digital Arts Research Center on the UCSC Campus from May18-19, 2017. 

E.A.R.T.H. Lab Presents!

Join us for a multi-disciplinary gathering to explore our relationships with the environment and social justice, engage in human/non-human collaboration, critique ideologies and debate new sexualities. What happens when we see the Earth as our lover? Let’s examine where our “bodies” end and “nature” begins.

For more  information click here.


City Lights Bookstore

Documenta Kassel


We put out a call for collaborators through word of mouth and on our social media networks. Our friend, Kristina Marlen, a professional tantric dominatrix, author, and sex positive blogger living in Berlin, enlisted some of her German sex worker friends. King Erik and Mamita had enjoyed doing the three clinics in Athens so much that they drove in from France and joined us again. A Japanese friend and colleague, Hiroko Kikuchi, showed up just as we were setting up the clinic and we invited her to join us. She wasn’t exactly a sex expert, but we had plenty of those, what we needed was a conceptual artist, plus she spoke Japanese. There were thirteen of us and collectively we spoke six languages; English, Spanish, German, French, Greek, and Japanese. On the afternoon of our Kassel clinic, we set up our tables, chairs, and props in the city’s main square, the Friedrichsplatz,  between the Joseph Beuys’ 7000 Oaks trees. Just as we were set up and ready to start, a fierce lightning storm rolled into Kassel. We were firmly instructed to move inside to the ground floor rotunda of the Fridericianum Museum for everyone’s safety.

Our clinic in the rotunda filled up with a diverse mix of people who lined up in front of their chosen sex educators, eagerly seeking advice and conversation. Our clinic was hopping as people are not used to free sex advice in public and many were hungry to talk about sex in ways were not shameful or secretive. Participants asked us all sorts of questions. We did our best to provide practical information while also being creative and thinking outside the box. The two of us offered sex life tarot readings, and usually the cards provided just the right guidance. Drawing on our combined personal experience our group gave radical, queer, and punk rock sex advice that eschewed traditional morality. Our clinicians offered tips on topics such as FluxSex, Chthulu compost love attitude, Naughty karma, Amazon play, rosebud reiki, queer celibacy, sex in performance art, sensual presence, aktivist humanist ethics, sexological bodywork, pollen-amory, sophisticated surrender, food porn addiction, sexual alchemy, sex and psychedelics and more.

This documenta sex clinic was a parliament of embodied sexual knowledge. Some of our sex workers who had not seen themselves as sex educators previously, did now and they were elated and empowered. A good time was had by all, and certainly we opened up some minds and performed a sex clinic as art.

Click here to view a PDF of the Kassel Sidewalk Sex Clinic Program

Documenta 14 Athens


We prepared plexiglass standing placards to put on our tables with our neatly typed names, bios and sex education offerings which read like scores sprinkled with a dose of Fluxus absurdity. We offered radical sex education, although we sprinkled in some practical sex advice.

The documenta 14 team helped us enlist some local sex educators for the performance. We knew that it was important to have Greek citizens be part of our clinician team. Paul brought on board Activista, a genderqueer safe sex expert and an amazing drag performer, as well as Dr. Bubuke aka Bubu, a trans woman with a Ph.D. who offered advice in transgender and queer issues and counter hegemonic sexual practices. There had been some horrible anti-GLBTQ+ violence around Athens, so we were assigned a body guard.

The documenta 14 production team members, including our main handler for the clinics project, Maria Dolores, were all extremely helpful when scouting and reserving our sites and setting up the tables, chairs and signs. Our good friend, Veronica Vera, dean of the Academy for Boys Who Want to Be Girls, joined us from New York. Our French friends from Emmetrop art center, King Erik and his wife Mamita, joined us as well.

The people of Athens were generous with us and hopefully our Free Sidewalk Sex Clinic, which documenta 14 described as a nomadic performance, helped open up more space for queer and marginalized people in Athens as it opened more minds to creative sex positivity and absurdist sex humor.