Mary Jo Aagerstoun

I am an environmental activist and independent art historian specializing in contemporary art and cultural production. My pronouns are she/her. I am based in South Florida, formerly the land of the Jeaga people, and a neighbor of the Miccosukee and Seminole Nations. South Florida’s population is quite diverse. A significant proportion of residents have roots in the Caribbean islands and Central and South America. My home is in West Palm Beach, Florida, where Euro-Americans predominate, and Jim Crow-defined Black landscapes persist with little public acknowledgment of their histories or meanings.

I have been an active participant in South Florida environmental advocacy, serving as Activist Art Chair for the Climate Coalition of South Florida. I have also served on various citizen urban planning and sustainability advisory committees for the City of West Palm Beach.

I am currently writing a book about ecological art practices that suggest how to counter the effects of the Anthropocene. The book is an outgrowth of my work with EcoArt South Florida, a nonprofit I founded (2007–2014) to develop the region as a center for ecological art practice. The project catalyzed 13 ecological art projects and doubled the number of South Florida artists engaging in the practice.

My book-in-progress (working title: Living on the Edge: Ecological Art for the Anthropocene) will present and analyze ecological art interventions that resist violence to land and ecology, or participate directly in healing damaged land in situ. Of most interest to me are artworks that “listen” and bring visibility to the earth’s entities long thought to be speechless; experiment with small scale, art-oriented clean, renewable energy approaches; suggest possibilities for regeneration of ecologies and support of refugia; foster ecology-positive approaches to human habitat; and appropriate and transform the “master’s tools” (existing law and institutions) to preserve ecological diversity.

Currently under consideration for inclusion in the book are works that address toxic waste, fossil fuel extraction and transport, scarcity and pollution of water, shrinking habitat, and sea-level rise.
In 2020 I organized a collective to create a Tarot deck on the theme of climate disruption. The deck will be useable for individual self-growth and climate crisis education and to build the deep adaptation communities necessary in this period of ongoing societal collapses and species extinctions worldwide.

I founded Artists for Climate Action (2015-present), an international Facebook platform for artists who take action on climate disruption with their artistic skills. Hundreds of artists and interested others follow the group, which I actively curate and administer.

In 2001 I initiated The Women in Black Art Project, a feminist peace performance inspired by the Israeli-created, international organization Women in Black. The WIBAP was in response to the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Created by six South Florida artists, the project traveled the US and internationally, performing art rituals at the White House, the Capitol, Memorial Bridge, the State Department, the United Nations, and in several current and former conflict zones. The project honored women who have died in the pursuit of justice and peace. The Women in Black Art Project costumes and archives were acquired in 2004 by the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution permanent collection.

Over the years, among other activities, I have curated exhibitions and published articles in exhibition catalogs; co-developed an online magazine dedicated to highlighting interdisciplinarity in feminist art projects, for which I edited a special issue on cyberfeminism and art; co-edited a special issue of the National Women’s Studies Association Journal on feminist activist art; and was initial co-coordinator of the Feminist Art Project-Florida (2006-present), one of several US regional efforts to celebrate the cultural contributions of women artists. I have also served as a consultant to the Creative Capital Foundation and was a director of Through the Flower. This organization owned Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party until its acquisition by the Brooklyn Museum in 2002.

I was awarded the Ph.D. from the University of Maryland’s Art History and Archaeology Department in May 2004. My dissertation —Cultural Intervention, Activist Art and Discourses of Oppositionality in the United States, 1980–2000 (available on —  explored the work of selected US artists of the1980s and 1990s who sought to address social and political issues and the reactions to that work from inside and outside the art world. During my Ph.D. studies, I was honored to serve as a Museum Fellow at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, where I assisted in the exhibition of Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s installation-performance The Temple of Confessions and contributed to the catalog for a show of Gordon Parks’ photographs.

I have also been awarded an MA in Art History (specialization in 19th Century French and American art) from George Washington University, an MEd in Organizational Development from the Union Graduate School of Antioch University, and a BA in American Studies from Middlebury College in Vermont. I am fluent in Spanish and French and read both German and Russian.

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  • Artist Info

    • West Palm Beach, FL
      US - East
    • 202-255-8769

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