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Elizabeth Stephens


Environmental Art, Performance Art, Film, Intermedia and Sculpture

Elizabeth Stephens, Ph.D. has been a filmmaker, performance artist, activist and educator for over three decades. Stephens is the Founding Director of the E.A.R.T.H. Lab (Environmental Art, Research, Theory and Happenings) at UC Santa Cruz where she is a Professor of Art.  She gained her MFA at Rutgers in 1992, and completed her Ph.D. in Performance Studies at UC Davis in 2015.  

Originally a sculptor, she has exhibited visual art, created performance art pieces, theater pieces and screened her films across the USA and the world. Her work has been shown in museums and galleries including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Reina Sophia in Madrid, Museum Kunst Palast in Dusseldorf, the Center for Contemporary Art in Moscow, MoMA New York, and in the 53rd Venice Biennale.  

Stephens’ work explores embodied ecologies, queerness and pleasure in this age of environmental distress. Since 2002 she and her partner Annie Sprinkle have collaborated in performances, visual art, walking tours and produced two feature length films, Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Ecosexual Love Story (2012) and Water Makes Us Wet (2017), which was screened at MoMA New York and the British Film Institute’s Flare Festival in 2019 amongst other venues. Stephens received a Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship in 2014 and with Sprinkle she received a 2019 Eureka Fellowship and participated in documenta 14 in 2017.  Together, Stephens and Sprinkle performed 22 weddings with nature (marrying the Earth, the Sky, the Water and more) in nine different countries, raising the profile of Ecosexuality, and changing the discourse of our relationship with the Earth to that of lover. Their collaborative work is recognized and analyzed in the emerging field of Love Studies as well as in Performance Studies, Environmental Humanities, Feminist Studies and Art.

Education and Training: 
Diploma, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
B.F.A., Tufts University
M.F.A., Rutgers University
Ph.D. Performance Studies, University of California, Davis
Teaching Interests: 

Environmental Art, Performance Art, Ars Erotica, Intermedia and Sculpture

Honors and Awards: 

Eureka Fellowship, Fleishaker Foundation, San Francisco, CA 

Rydell Fellowship, Santa Cruz, CA

San Francisco Arts Commission Cultural Equity Grant, San Francisco, CA

Theater Cash Grant, San Francisco, CA


Digital Arts Research Center 341
Studio: Digital Arts Research Center 229
Office Hours: 
Email to schedule a virtual office hours appointment
Mailing Address: 

Art Department

E-104 Baskin Visual Arts 

1156 High St. Santa Cruz, CA 95064