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Alison Hiltner and Lisa Aston Philander,
Ecological Futures: Speculative Biomes of the Past, Present and Future

Alison Hiltner (Visual Artist) and Lisa Aston Philander (Curator of the College of Biological Sciences Conservatory) partner with local artists Alyssa Baguss, Julie Reneé Benda, Aaron Dysart, Regan Golden, Maxwell Hoaglund, Erica Hoaglund and Teréz Iacovino to create mini biomes from the Conservatory’s collection of plants. The artists’ construct biomes that reflect a real or imagined environment, inspired and guided by what was, is or could be specific environmental conditions.

This experiment will explore the volatile and rapidly changing environments that plant life constantly needs to adapt to or perish. The work highlights the unique and varied biological organisms that we attempt to cohabit with and need to protect and preserve.

The aquatic environment that will be projected onto the large screen in the TPT space will inspire Hiltner’s biome; the video is of a cultivation tank of algae she is currently keeping at the MAEP exhibition space at the MIA.


Alison Hiltner is a visual artist and Associate Director of Soo Visual Arts Center who currently lives and works in Minneapolis, MN. She received a BFA from the University of Kansas and a MFA from the University of Minnesota. Hiltner’s credits include solo exhibitions at Spike Gallery in New York, the Museum of Surgical Sciences in Chicago, Heineman Myers Contemporary Art in Washington DC, Harcourt House Arts Centre in Edmonton and Concordia University. She was an artist in residence at Sculpture Space and recently the Soap Factory, has received three Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grants, two MRAC/McKnight Foundation Next Step Grants, the Jerome Foundation Fellowship in 2011/12 and an Artists on the Verge Northern Foundation fellowship in 2013/14. Hiltner has exhibited in numerous group exhibitions on the east coast and in the Midwest including the Evanston Art Center in Chicago, Minnesota Museum of American Art, and Perlman Museum at Carlton College. She currently has a solo exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art as part of their MAEP program and a two-person exhibition at Telemark Art Center in Skien, Norway.

Lisa Aston Philander is a native Minneapolis resident and works as the director and curator of the College of Biological Sciences Conservatory at the University of Minnesota where she strives to instill the love of plants in people. She recently curated an exhibit Roots to Healing ~the past present and future of plant based remedies in Minnesota, up for the duration of the year in Northrop. Philander has an interdisciplinary background agroecology, ethnobotany, and political ecology. Her research focuses on traditional knowledge of medicinal plants to promote greater cultural understanding and community-based programming to conserve and grow endangered plant species.  
Find out more about her work at the Roots to Healing exhibition at the Northrup Auditorium at:

Additional Artists:

Alyssa Baguss
Julie Reneé Benda
Regan Golden
Maxwell Hoagland
Erica Hoagland
Teréz Iacovino
Aaron Dysart


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Union Depot - Lowertown TPT: 172 4th St E, Saint Paul

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8:59pm - 5:26am



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Alison Hiltner
(works) Minneapolis, MN
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Lisa Aston Philander
(b.) Minneapolis, MN
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