The art and ecology project, Radiant Communities, asks the question “How do we collectively imagine a multi-species, collaborative future for the communities of Sarasota? 

Under the direction of filmmaker Wes Kline and ecologist Dr. Emily Heffernan, participants imagined that they were an isolated future community living on Tidy Island, an island located in the north of Sarasota Bay, produced dynamic and interactive images of their own community through movements that embodied community interactions, enabling students to picture the structures that would make their communities vibrant and connected.

Two films were produced out of the project. The first was Folded Island, an experimental narrative that used choreography and movement to engage with ecological relations and the “place” of Tidy Island itself. The second is an accompanying piece titled Island Library, which compiles texts about community, utopia, presence and ecology that participants chose to create a kind of ‘library’ for their temporary community.

Folded Island (2022) 4k digital film / 1.90:1 DCI / 17:30 min password: island

Island Library (2022) 2k Digital film / Academy / 19:32 min
password: island

A third, short research documentary explains some of the ecological context for the project:

Radiant Communities: Research Interviews (2022) 2k digital film / 16:9 / 14:30 min

A second aspect of the Radiant Communities project was a collaboration with the Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition (SAACC). In this collaboration student documentary film teams from New College of Florida were paired with three individuals from the Newtown community, a historically Black community in Sarasota, in order to create community portraits. The portrait subjects included Jetson Grimes, a longtime Sarasota activist and community leader, Walter Gilbert, an NAACP activist and founder of the Gilbert Mural Initiative, and Etienne “EJ” Porter, a musician who runs a recording studio for community member use. Selections from these short documentaries were screened at New College of Florida in October 2022 and included in the Visions of the Black Experience film festival in Sarasota.

Radiant Communities: Selected student films (2022) 1080p / 16:9 / variable length.

Radiant Communities is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

Stills from the film Folded Island (2022) 2k/4k 1:90 DCI 15 min:

Stills from the film Island Library (2022) 2k/1.33 20 min:


Wes Kline is an artist and faculty at Ringling College of Art and Design, having taught previously at New Mexico State University, for six years at the University of Florida and two years at St. Lawrence University. He earned his MFA in Studio Art from the University of Illinois, Chicago in 2005.

His research and work looks at "minor" pivots in modernist narratives, focusing specifically on ecology, language and performance in proximity to architecture, philosophy and meta-modernism. He has shown his work nationally and internationally and teaches courses in photography and extended media, including video, installation and sound.



EMILY HEFFERNAN is an ecologist, entomologist, and interdisciplinary artist. She was the recipient of the 2019 OUSTA (Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teaching Award) from the Society of College Science Teachers. Emily is an Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at New College of Florida in Sarasota, Florida.

Emily works with populations of endangered butterflies and uses molecular techniques to track genetic diversity and bacterial infection over time. Her research spans multiple continents; from ant mutualisms in the Malaysian rainforest to the preservation of the Miami Blue butterfly in Florida. Emily’s research practice investigates themes of mutualism, biodiversity, and the importance of imagining a new multi-species future.