Mountain InfoZone

Mountain Arts + Culture

Table of Contents

Most mountain communities around the world have deeply traditional cultural lives and livelihoods that involve music, dance, performance, sculpture, architecture, literary, oral and visual art forms.  The value of these cultural works is increasing, as original forms, expressions and practitioners are rapidly being lost.  Amid many critical concerns, there are also emerging creative opportunities that can bring continued or renewed vibrancy to mountain societies.

The arts can also be a most effective communications medium.  New eco-art forms, media arts

and networked interactions are creating opportunities to address climate, environment, energy, water, learning and sustainability challenges. Our fragile ecosystems are attracting the attention of diverse artists and scientists, who hope to affect change through inspiring creative examples.

A Museum in the Himalayas

A Museum in the Himalayas Has a Solution for the Tons of Trash Climbers Leave on Mount Everest: Turn It Into Art.  The museum is working to establish an art center with a recycling plant near the mountain.      January 22, 2021

Mount Everest is perhaps best known for some of the staggering numbers associated with it. It soars almost 30,000 feet above sea level, making it the earth’s tallest mountain, and it has attracted thousands of the planet’s best high-altitude climbers, around 10,000 of whom have reached the summit.  And those climbers leave quite a bit of trash. In 2019, the government of Nepal announced that 24,200 pounds of garbage—including plastic bottles, cans, food wrappings, equipment, batteries, and, um, human waste—were brought down from the mountain during a 45-day cleanup project. 

According to a report published in One Earth, snow samples from 11 areas of varying altitudes all contained microplastics. Three of eight water samples were also contaminated.

Reaching New Heights in Plastic Pollution: Preliminary Findings of Microplastics on Mount Everest, 

As part of efforts to clean up the mountain, the Himalayan Museum and Sustainable Park has organized an initiative called Sagarmatha Next to find environmental solutions for the issue.    Sagarmatha Next Center, project director Tommy Gustafsson.

Chinese born, American composer and UC San Diego music professor, Lei Lang won the 2020 Grawmeyer Award for his work “A Thousand Mountains, a Million Streams”, which meditates on the loss of landscapes of cultural and spiritual dimensions due to climate change, and how we must work to preserve them for future generations.

Liang is receiving the Grawemeyer, sometimes referred to as the Nobel Prize for music, for his 15-movement concerto.  It began in 2013 as an electronic music piece before being transformed into a solo piano work and, ultimately, a 30-minute orchestral opus that he likens to “painting” music “with a sonic brush.”  “A Thousand Mountains” was inspired by climate change and by Liang’s multi-disciplinary Residency at UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute, as well as by a Chinese traditional landscape ink painting by the late Huang Binhong that was painted in 1953, after Binhong went blind.  “A Thousand Mountains,” received its premiere performance in 2018.

Raising environmental awareness through art in the Andean Chocó


In 2019, the Andean Forest Program, InConcerto and Radio COCOA undertook an audiovisual project called “Natural Sessions” that, through music and film, raises awareness about the need to take actions to protect the Andean Chocó Biosphere Reserve of Pichincha, Ecuador.

Taking classical music out of the urban context and into a natural context was the fundamental premise on which the audiovisual exercise Natural Sessions was based. In the video, InConcerto musicians perform in the Andean Chocó. Their musical pieces are combined with an audiovisual display that shows the beauty of the landscapes and the immense diversity of the cloud forest and the species that inhabit it.

The Andean Forest Program is an initiative implemented in the Andean countries, which is part of the Global Program for Climate Change and the Environment of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and is facilitated by the HELVETAS Peru – CONDESAN consortium. InConcerto is a cultural platform that creates events and projects that aim at promoting positive changes in society. Radio COCOA, a dependency of the San Francisco de Quito University, is a media platform dedicated to the promotion and documentation of emerging music and arts from Ecuador, and a lab for creating and developing innovative media contents that aim at promoting diversity and environmental awareness through the arts.

Juan Pablo Viteri, lecturer at San Francisco de Quito University and Radio COCOA coordinator.

Banff Center – Mountain Photography Residency

The Mountain Photography Residency provides an opportunity for photographers to learn how to tell compelling visual narratives through images. The program examines photography and its methodologies, processes, and uses when working in mountain or wilderness communities with deep ecological history, cultural history, or spiritual significance. 

Individualized interaction with guest faculty will allow participants to address aspects of the creative process, storytelling, and culture in their artistic work. The program is designed to support the creative process with a goal of establishing cultural and ecological accountability, responsibility, and awareness. Applications are invited from photographers with an interest in documenting and protecting communities, cultures, and environment, as well as those who are involved in shaping community transformation by amplifying marginalized stories and voices. 

Digital Himalaya

A project to develop digital collection, storage and distribution strategies for multimedia anthropological information from the Himalayan region.

The Digital Himalaya project was designed by Alan Macfarlane and Mark Turin as a strategy for archiving and making available ethnographic materials from the Himalayan region. Based at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, the project was established in December 2000. From 2002 to 2005, the project moved to the Department of Anthropology at Cornell University and began its collaboration with the University of Virginia. From July 2014, the project has relocated to the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, and is engaged in a long term collaboration with Sichuan University. 

Dr Mark Turin

Dr Mark Turin, Digital Himalaya Project, South Asia Studies Council, MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, Yale University, PO Box 208206,  New Haven, CT 06520-8206

The Call of Mountains

A Facebook site.

Center for Music Ecosystems

The launch of a new global NGO was announced today (3.26.2021), the Center for Music Ecosystems. The Center’s objective is to create a framework for music to be integrated into all aspects of city planning, built environment policy and urban sustainability, through commissioning research projects that investigate the role music plays across policy frameworks around the world, with a focus on intergovernmental frameworks and priorities. Through this research, the role and impact music can play in making places better will be understood more clearly, which will allow policymakers to implement supportive, sustainable policies for musicians, music and creative businesses and their residents.

Its first report is a Global Guide to Music and the Sustainable Development Goals,   written in concert with 10 UN Agencies and a host of private sector organizations and is the most extensive report written to directly link music to all 17 SDGs.  It’s being launched today at the United Nations Global Festival of Action , with a panel/roundtable.

The Center for Music Ecosystems is a not-for-profit corp., registered in the State of Alabama.

Shain Shapiro, PhD, UK, Founder and Group CEO

The Earth, Our Home: Art, Technology and Critical Action

Coordinated by Bonnie Mitchell and Jan Searleman

Proposals are being accepted through Nov. 22, 2021

This exhibition will be held entirely online, and is sponsored by the year-round Digital Arts Community of ACM SIGGRAPH.

Artists, scientists, technologists, and social practitioners have the power to critically respond to the imbalance by engaging in practices and producing artworks that seek to understand and work in harmony with the natural world to reimagine a better future. This exhibition seeks creative works that investigate, question, and propose critical action to reestablish a sustainable and balanced relationship with the earth, our home.

International Folk Art Market

Santa Fe

The Mission of the International Folk Art Market is to create economic opportunities for and with folk artists worldwide who celebrate and preserve folk art traditions. The International Folk Art Market envisions a world that values the dignity and humanity of the handmade, honors timeless cultural traditions, and supports the work of folk artists serving as entrepreneurs and catalysts for positive social change.

Union of Mountain Poets

Inspired by San Francisco’s Union of Street Poets, as championed by the late Western Slope poet and North Beach legend Jack Mueller, and guided by Silverton wise woman Dolores LaChapelle’s Way of the Mountain eco-philosophy, comes now the Union of Mountain Poets.

Open to all mountain poets, particularly those living within sight of the Southern Rockies. The founding local chapter in Colorado is named after the famous Western Federation of Miners and Wobbly leader Vincent St. John.

Telluride Mountain Film Festival

Our mission is to use the power of film, art and ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world. Held every Memorial Day weekend, Mountainfilm is a documentary film festival that showcases nonfiction stories about environmental, cultural, climbing, political and social justice issues that matter. Along with exceptional documentaries, the festival goes beyond the film medium by bringing together world-class athletes, change makers and visionary artists for a multi-dimensional celebration of indomitable spirit. Mountainfilm includes interactive talks, free community events, a gallery walk, outdoor programming and presentations.