Asha Canalos is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, community organizer and climate justice advocate. Her work is focused on historical and global colonization; social justice and civil rights; ‘hybrid’ and/or marginalized communities; and the borders of the natural and urban worlds. Canalos seeks to describe and interact with the diversity of American experience in collaborative exchanges. Her work has been shown at The Bronx Museum, White Box Gallery, Pace University, Antioch College, and GEISAI Miami at PULSE Contemporary Art Fair. She has been featured in The New York Times, Popular Resistance, The Miami Sun Post, Art Daily, VICE magazine, and A Blade of Grass. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Dyson Artist’s Residency at Pace University, the Artists In the Marketplace program at the Bronx Museum, and the Juror’s Award at GEISAI/PULSE Contemporary Art Fair.
In 2011, Canalos began working full-time as a community organizer, when a fracked gas compressor station project was proposed a quarter of a mile from her home, studio, and organic farm in Orange County, NY. Canalos served as a press coordinator and an event organizer for Stop the Minisink Compressor Station from 2011-2013. She was a delegate to meetings with the chairman and senior staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)- the little-known regulatory agency responsible for approving 99% of all fracking infrastructure proposals submitted by the industry. She was also one of ten community members elected to work with the attorney representing the Minisink community in federal court. Canalos later went on to co-found and co-direct Minisink Matters, a role she held until late 2014.
Canalos additionally took a key role in the graphic design of logos, website graphics, and silk-screened shirts which were worn by Minisink residents at rallies and FERC protests. This supported the creation of organized and performative actions, later leading to the co-organization of events involving community and activist groups from several states, at FERC headquarters in Washington, D.C.
In 2012, Canalos was arrested in attempts to block construction of Millennium Pipeline’s fracked gas compressor project in Minisink, joining the first wave of New York residents and activists engaging in civil disobedience against gas infrastructure in recent years.
Canalos was awarded a grant for her work as an artist involved in community organizing by the playwright Eve Ensler and her organization, V-Day, which strives to end violence to women, girls, and the planet; the award partially funded Minisink’s legal fight in the U.S. Court of Appeals. She has also worked with The Mothers Project, Sane Energy Project, Beyond Extreme Energy, One Billion Rising For Justice, and several state and regional grassroots groups and non-governmental organizations.
While Minisink’s case was lost at the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2014, it set important legal precedents, and disclosed previously unknown information about FERC’s process of approving fracked gas infrastructure- both of which helped dozens of community and environmental activist groups in NY, as well as many more nationally. Unable to continue her work in Minisink, Canalos moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2015 with her family. There she continues to create interdisciplinary history-based pieces, and to help develop art and writing interventions for communities facing take-overs by the oil and gas industry.