Beth Stephens

Beth Stephens

Fellow: Awarded 2021
Field of Study:

Competition: US & Canada

Beth Stephens Ph.D. is an artist and filmmaker who grew up in West Virginia. She became known for her sculpture, installation, and performance art about queer identity during the culture wars in the 90s. When she was offered a professorship at UC Santa Cruz, she moved from New York to California. There she eventually became life partners and collaborators with artist Annie Sprinkle. Their 2008 Green Wedding to the Earth launched the Ecosex Movement, which explores the concept of “Earth as Lover.” Stephens directed her first feature documentary, Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Ecosexual Love Story, in 2014. This film tells the story of the devastation of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia through a queer gaze. Hooked on filmmaking, Stephens co-directed Water Makes Us Wet: An Ecosexual Adventure, which screened at MoMa after premiering in documenta 14. Career highlights include performing the Wedding to the Sea in the Venice Biennale and being a documenta 14 artist with Annie in Kassel, Germany, and Athens, Greece.

Stephens is the recipient of a Rydell Fellowship and Fleishhacker Foundation’s Eureka Fellowship. She founded the E.A.R.T.H. Lab (Environmental Art, Research, Theory, and Happenings) at UCSC to help make environmental art more sexy, fun, and diverse. Stephens’ newest book is with University of Minnesota Press, Assuming the Ecosexual Position: The Earth as Lover.

Photo Credit: Kingmond Young

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