Right now, Cristopher Cichocki (pronounced cha-ha-skee) should be basking in the success of his massive, multimedia art installation at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival — a career-making show for audience of tens of thousands of revelers at the Empire Polo Club in Indio and hundreds of thousands more on social media. Instead, the artist — who works in what he terms “new Earth art,” interrogating the intersections of the natural world, humankind, and industrial production — is at work in his Coachella Valley studio, waiting to learn what will become of the project.
Amid the uncertainty, Cichocki’s exploration of water and its environmental interconnections never wavered. On March 19, the first night of California’s shelter-in-place order, he created Liquid Constellation (Quarantine Circle), working with an image he had photographed a few weeks earlier. “I generated a circular digital inversion within the image,” he explains. “I consider Liquid Constellation to be a paradox — seemingly isolated, yet bound to connect the inevitable in nature.”
The 16-by-20-inch archival pigment print earned Cichocki a $500 grant to “Keep Art Alive” from the California Desert Arts Council (CDAC). The nonprofit organization is offering relief to working visual and performing artists in the Coachella Valley whose livelihood has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
CDAC and affiliate La Quinta Arts Foundation established a $50,000 Keep Art Alive fund to award grants to Coachella Valley artists and arts organizations who create thoughtful, inspiring, and relevant works responding to the crisis.
Cichocki’s work responds to the increasingly toxic global environment, growing from his ongoing explorations of and interventions at the Salton Sea. The Lancaster Museum of Art and History featured him in a solo exhibition in 2018, and he has exhibited projects in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Canada, and Japan for more than 20 years.
Follow Cristopher Cichocki on Instagram @cristophercichocki