Brandon Ballengée

Special Collaborations Artistic
Type of work
Visual art

A Studio in the Woods and Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish Government will bring internationally recognized artist, biologist and educator Brandon Ballengée for a community-based residency with at risk Plaquemines Parish coastal communities. Through participatory art and science, Searching for Ghosts of the Gulf will explore missing Gulf of Mexico species with youth, fisherpeople, and community members that are themselves under threat.

Brandon Ballengée (American, born 1974) is a visual artist, biologist and environmental educator based in Louisiana.

Ballengée creates transdisciplinary artworks inspired from his ecological field and laboratory research. Since 1996, a central investigation focus has been the occurrence of developmental deformities and population declines among amphibians and other ectothermic vertebrates. In 2001, he was nominated for membership into Sigma XI, the Scientific Research Society. In 2009, Ballengée and Stanley K Sessions published “Explanation for Missing Limbs in Deformed Amphibians” in the Journal of Experimental Zoology and received international media attention from the BBC and others. This scientific study was the inspiration for the book Malamp: The Occurrence of Deformities in Amphibians (published by Arts Catalyst & Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK) and a solo exhibition at the Royal Institution of Great Britain (London, England: 2010). From 2009 through 2015 he continued his amphibian research as a Visiting Scientist at McGill University (Montréal, Canada) and, in 2011, he was awarded a Conservation Leadership Fellowship from the National Audubon Society’s TogetherGreen Program (USA). In 2014 he received his Ph.D. in Transdisciplinary Art and Biology from Plymouth University (UK) in association with the Hochschule für Gestaltung Zürich (Switzerland). In 2015, he was the recipient of a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). In 2016, his wife sustainable food educator Aurore Ballengée and he with their children began the Atelier de la Nature, a South Louisiana area eco-educational campus and nature reserve.

From 2016-2018, he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate Museum of Natural Science at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), studying the impact on fish species from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill with Curator of Fishes Prosanta Chakrabarty. Their project, Crude Life Portable Museum: A Citizen Art and Science Investigation of Gulf of Mexico Biodiversity after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, is ongoing thanks to an Interdisciplinary Projects Grant Award from the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI), a project of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Ballengée was also a 2017/18 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) and Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in Washington D.C. examining species “missing” from the Gulf since the 2010 oil spill. In 2019 he received a Creative Capital Award and delivered a TEDxLSU talk. In 2020, he was included in the 2020 Grist 50 Emerging Environmental Leaders. In 2021, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was appointed Adjunct Faculty of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Tulane University.

Ballengée’s artwork has previously been exhibited throughout the USA and internationally in 18 countries, including Canada, Argentina, England, Germany, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Russia, India, China, South Korea and Australia. In the summer of 2013 the first career survey of Ballengeé’s work debuted at the Château de Chamarande (Essonne, France), and travelled to the Museum Het Domein (Sittard, Netherlands) in 2014. In 2016 a 20-year retrospective of his work was held at University of Wyoming Art Museum in Laramie, Wyoming.

His art has been featured in several major US publications, including ARTnewsArt in America, The New York Times, New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Orion, Audubon Magazine and Sculpture. Internationally, it was also featured in Beaux Arts (France), Greenpeace Magazin (Germany), Liberation (France), L’Oeil (France), The Observer (England), The Guardian (England), Financial Times (England), BBC News (England), D’Ars (Italy), Domenica (Italy), Il Venerdi (Italy), SNACKS (China), The Sunday Guardian: New Dehli (India) and others.