e-mail: okellhammer[at]


mobile: 917-743-0126


Oliver Kellhammer is an artist, writer, and researcher, who seeks, through his botanical interventions and social art practice, to demonstrate nature’s surprising ability to recover from damage. Recent work has focused on the psychosocial effects of climate change, decontaminating polluted soil, reintroducing prehistoric trees to landscapes impacted by industrial logging, and cataloging the biodiversity of brownfields. He is currently a lecturer in sustainable systems at Parsons in NYC.


He has lectured and given artists talks on bio-art, ecological design, urban ecology and permaculture at universities and cultural institutions throughout North America and abroad, including NYU, Rensselaer Polytechnic, OTIS College, University of Oregon, Emily Carr University, Smith College, University of British Columbia, Bainbridge Graduate Institute, University of Windsor, Aalto University (Finland) Tohoku University (Japan).


Artist Statement: 

I am interested in exploring the processes of ecological regeneration in the wake of human disturbance, either through passive field observation (what can I not do?) of biota recolonizing industrial wastelands or by actively engaging in the biological and socio-political processes that inform these landscapes by attempting to improve their relationships with each other. The latter approach often takes the form of what I call 'botanical interventions', whereby I employ horticultural techniques to mitigate problems between people and the landscape, enhancing both the sense of the place and its ecological carrying capacity, as well as addressing such problems as erosion, the availability of affordable and nutritious food and the frequent lack of agency low-income communities are allowed over the design of their urban spaces. My past projects include a community access bio-materials plantation, the reforestation of an eroded railway ravine where the vegetation is now protected as intellectual property, and working with squatters in Canada’s poorest neighbourhood to establish the country’s first public permaculture food forest and Asian ethnobotanical arboretum. My most recent investigations have focused on the speculative botany of climate change and the role of brownfield ecologies as refugia for biodiversity. My interventions, when I make them, are deliberately anti-monumental. As they integrate into the ecological and cultural communities that form around them, my role as the artist becomes increasingly obscured.


exhibitions / interventions (select):


2019:   'Plastivore' at 'Disposable' exhibition, Science Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

2018:   'Plastivore' at 'Life at the Edges' exhibition, Science Gallery, Dublin, Ireland

2018:   'Dear Climate' at 'Indicators' exhibition, Storm King, NY

2017:   Neo-Eocene: Gingko spiral at Agrikultura, Malmö Sweden

2016:   Dear Climate, collaborative installation with Una Chauduri, Marina Zurkow, Fritz Ertl at NYPL, mid-Manhattan branch, NY, New York

2015:   'Seeing the Forest Through the Trees' group show @ Abandon Normal Devices, Grizedale Forest Visitors Centre, Hawkshead, Cumbria, UK

2014:   Dear Climate, collaborative installation with Una Chauduri, Marina Zurkow, Fritz Ertl at 'Strange Weather' exhibition, Dublin Science Gallery, Dublin Ireland, also at 41 Main Street Windows, Brooklyn, NY   'Ecological Interventions,' two person show at Sanctuary for Independent Media, Troy, New York

2010:   'other gardens' @ Mobile Media Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada

2009:   Neo-Eocene, collaboration with scientist Rupert Sheldrake, Cortes Island, BC (ongoing)

2007:   Video Screening: „OOH, YAH, YAH, YAH, YAH“ as part of 3by3 event, EFA Gallery, EFA Studio Center, New York, Nov 15th.

2006:   Concrete Island, World Urban Forum, Vancouver, Canada

2003:   Means of Production, Art and Environment Initiative, Vancouver Parks Board, Vancouver, Canada. (ongoing)

1997:   Healing the Cut-Bridging the Gap, Grandview Cut Bridges Public Art Project, Vancouver, Canada. (plantings completed)

1994:   End of the Nation State, Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff | Seeds of Resistance, Cheap Art Collective, Hamburg | Healing the Cut-Bridging the Gap, Grandview Cut Bridges Public Art Project, Vancouver (initial work)

1993:   Artropolis 93, Vancouver | Roadside Attractions, Or Gallery, Vancouver | Baader-Meinhof-Information-Plant, Gallery Sansair, Vancouver

1992:   The State of Things, Garnet Press Gallery, Toronto | (founded) Cottonwood Community Gardens, Vancouver

1990:   Artropolis 90, Vancouver | Breaking Boundaries, Surrey Art Gallery, Surrey, BC | The Shaping of Nature, Oakville Galleries, Oakville, ON

1989:   Specific Pacific, YYZ Artists Outlet, Toronto | Niagara-Model of the Universe, Niagara Artists’ Centre, St. Catherines, ON

1988:   Forest-Model of the Universe, Mercer Union,Toronto | Lead Down the Garden Path, Garnet Press Gallery, Toronto

1987:   Ear to the World, A Space, Toronto

1986:   Park, Garnet Press Gallery, Toronto | The New Mechanics, Saw Gallery, Ottawa 

1985:   Films by Men, A-SPACE, Toronto | The Theory of Evolution, Eye Revue, Toronto | Swamp-Model of the Universe, Orbit Art Room, Toronto | Eyedentities, Orbit Art Room, Toronto

1984:   Erect Systems, Frontier Video, (PBS), Buffalo | Swamp Life, Orbit Art Room, Toronto | Works with Paper, Gallery 620, Toronto

1983:   Photo/Electric Art Show, La Chartreuse, Villeneuve-les-Avignon, France.  | Dataviews, ArtCulture Resource Centre, Toronto | Posthuman Culture, Eye Revue, Toronto



recent press:

’An Interview with Oliver Kellhammer', Cam Scott, MVT Journal, June 2018 


recent residencies:

  • Renga for the Fifth Season, residency with Liz Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse, Phats Valley, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Sept 2014
  • Floating Studios for Dark Ecologies, field investigations with Marina Zurkow and Carol Stakenas, Portland Oregon, August 2014
  • Brownfieldlandia, residency with Kathy High, Sanctuary for Independent Media, Troy NY, July 21-27, 2014 (ongoing project)
  • Field_Notes – Deep Time, residency organized by the Finnish Society of Bioart at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station in Lapland/Finland, Sept 15–25, 2013
  • Living at the End of Nation States, (Residency Leader), Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Canada. 1994



recent publications:

  • ’Ruderal-Systems', contributor, THE DISTANCE PLAN #5, April, 2019
  • ’The Subjective Lives of Others', contributor, INTERALIA Magazine, September 2017
  • ’Dictionary of the Possible', contributor, SHIFTER Magazine, 22nd Issue, August 2016
  • 'Nodes and Networks’ contributor in SciArt Magazine, August 2016
  • ’Violent Reactions’, in PETROLEUM MANGA (edited and illustrated by Marina Zurkow), Punctum Publications, NYC, May 2014
  • ’Neo-Eocene’, in MAKING THE GEOLOGIC NOW (edited by Elizabeth Ellsworth + Jamie Kruse), Punctum Publications, NYC, Dec. 2012
  • ’Cottonwood Gardens-Oasis in Peril’, in VANCOUVER OBSERVER, Vancouver, Sept 20th 2012
  • ’Discovering Portland’s Organic Architecture’, in VANCOUVER OBSERVER, Vancouver, Dec 1st 2011
  • ’Grand Theft Auto: Vancouver Riots and the Deficit of the Real’, in VANCOUVER OBSERVER, Vancouver, July 11th, 2011
  • ’The Future of Vancouver’s Urban Landscape: Open Source City’, in VANCOUVER OBSERVER, Vancouver, May 31st 2011
  • ’Crush’, in DARWIN’S BASTARDS: ASTOUNDING TALES FROM TOMORROW, (edited by Zsuszi Gartner), Douglas and McIntyre, Vancouver, 2010 (short story previously nominated for the Canadian National Magazine Award in VANCOUVER REVIEW, Winter 2009)
  • ’Concrete Island’, in PUBLIC 41, (edited by Erin Despard and Monika Kin Gagnon), York University, Toronto, June 2010.
  • ’Botanical Interventions–Open Source Landscapes and Community Repair’, in ACCESS ALL AREAS: CONVERSATIONS ON ENGAGED ARTS, (edited by Tania Willard), GRUNT, Vancouver, October 2008
  • ’Hybrids’, in KNOCK MAGAZINE ISSUE #12, Seattle, 2009
  • ‘I Love Turtles’, in KNOCK MAGAZINE ISSUE #8, Seattle, 2008
  • 'State of the Forest- The Canadian Landscape as Propaganda'  FUSE MAGAZINE, Toronto, March 1992
  • 'Strategic Maneuvers- Corporate Money Laundering Through the Arts'  FUSE MAGAZINE, Toronto, August 1989



recent talks/lectures:

  • ‘In the Present Moment - Buddhism, Contemporary Art and Social Practice' Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, BC, Canada, Oct 27, 2019
  • 'Heather Davis and Oliver Kellhammer talk about Plastic' Union, Brooklyn, NY, April 26, 2019
  • 'Grafters' X-Change', Colgate University, Hamilton, NY, March 29-31, 2019
  • ‘Ruderal Ecology -Grounds for Change'Sanctuary for Independent Media, Troy NY, April 13, 2018
  • 'In Human Time- A Conversation on Climate and Art’, The New School, NYC, January 26, 2018
  • 'Post Industrial Ecologies of the Hudson River Estuary', Sanctuary for Independent Media, Troy, NY, May 14th, 2017
  • 'Weedy Resistance' Cooper Union, NYC, April 9th, 2017
  • ‘Not Dead Yet- The Surprising Diversity of Post-Industrial Biotopes’, Verge Interdisciplinary Design ConferenceThe New School, NYC, February 25, 2016
  • ‘Dictionary of the Possible-Animal’, hosted by Shifter Magazine, The New School, NY, Nov 21st, 2015
  • ‘Dear Climate’, Sanctuary for Independent Media, Troy NY, Nov 11th 2014
  • Ruderal Ecologies' Planet Repair Institute, Portland, Oregon, July 31st 2014
  • Botanical Interventions’ Rensselaer Polytechnic, Troy NY, March 6th 2014
  • 'Botanical Disturbance' Otis College, Los Angeles, February 25th, 2014
  • 'Culture + Community: Social Practice and the City', Vancouver, October 26, 2013
  • 'Violent Reactions' a reading of my essay in Marina’s Zurkow’s 'Rogue Frequency/Petroleum Manga,' NYU, NYC, September 28th 2013
  • 'Botanical Interventions: Rebuilding Landscapes, Reshaping Communities' University of Oregon, Eugene Oregon, May 2013
  • 'The Future is Shrubby!' Planet Repair Institute, Portland, Oregon, September 30th 2012
  • Village Building Convergence, Portland, Oregon, June 1st 2012
  • 'Nature 2.0'  ITP New York, NY, February 17th, 2012
  • SFU City Studio, Vancouver, BC, January 26th, 2012
  • Planet Repair Institute, Portland, Oregon, November 18th, 2011
  • 2nd Nature Institute - Hothouse series, Emily Carr University, Vancouver, BC, September 17, 2011
  • Ten for Ten series, Emily Carr University, Vancouver, BC, June 23 2011
  • 'Botanical Interventions' Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, BC, May 5th, 2011
  • ‘Crush’ reading at Darwin's Bastards Book Launch, WISE Club, Vancouver, BC, April 16th, 2010
  • Campbell River Art Gallery, Campbell River, BC, March 31st, 2010
  • Sierra Club - 'Botanical Interventions: A Permaculture Approach to Fixing the Planet,' Quadra Island BC, Oct 3rd, 2009
  • Interdisciplinary Forums – ‘DING’ Emily Carr University, Vancouver BC, February 12th, 2009
  • Making Art Public- Artists, the Law and the making of Public Art in Public Spaces, Coal Harbour Community Centre, Vancouver BC, Nov 20th, 2008
  • 'Literary Machines,' Green College, UBC, Vancouver BC, July 7th 2008
  • „OOH, YAH, YAH, YAH, YAH “ as part of 3by3 screening series,
  • EFA Gallery | EFA Studio Center, New York, Nov 15th, 2007
  • Emily Carr University, Vancouver BC, June 19th, 2007
  • Artists’ Urban Plans Symposium, University of Windsor, Windsor Ontario, March 13-15, 2007
  • New York University, New York, Tisch/ITP, April 16, 2007
  • Smith College, Northampton Massachusetts, Landscape Studies Program, April 23, 2007




University of British Columbia, (MFA  Creative Writing) 2009
Bainbridge Island Graduate Institute, (Certificate in Sustainable Business) 2003
Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Canada 1994-1995
Ontario College of Art, (A.O.C.A. Photo/Electric) 1985



Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council, Vancouver Parks Board Art and the Environment Initiative,  Vancouver Foundation, Vancouver Public Art Program