Multimedia installation by Caleb Lightfoot & J. Eric Simpson: “Terroir,” at Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson.

This summer, we are asking museums and galleries to give us a closer look at a single piece on exhibit. Ginger Shulick Porcella, executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson, walks us through MOCA’s current installation.

Artists: Caleb Lightfoot & J. Eric Simpson, collaborative duo based out of Lubbock, Texas. J. Eric Simpson is a fifth generation cotton farmer and Caleb Lightfoot recently worked at the Bayer greenhouse.

Title of multimedia installation: “Terroir” (formally Lubbock City Eternal), 2017-19. Terroir is understood as the unique set of environmental factors — climate, soil type, geomorphology, and living organisms (animal, plant, microbes, etc) that affect a crop’s phenotype. Terroir is a specified character, a feeling, taste, smell, etc., that is made by the unique combination of these factors. Terroir is an emergent whole, irreducible to any of its parts, and made by the interconnectedness of its constituent systems.

Lightfoot and Simpson use “terroir” as a methodology to think through the complex ecology of monoculture crop production: an ecology that exists as the interweaving of many complex operations. Their installation, “Terroir,” is made up of individual projects that explore the unique set of historical, political, spatial, and technological factors that govern this global agricultural system.

Style: Multimedia installation by artist-researchers creating social awareness

Significance: This work discusses what is the true “cash crop” — cotton or the weed that necessitates the use of Round-Up. The artists themselves are deeply embedded in the agricultural industry and understand its effects on humans, and humans impact on nature.

What demands a closer look: People are seduced by the glow of the IBC chemical totes and drawn into the work, where they are educated about the destructive use of toxic chemicals on our bodies and the disruption of human and animal communities.

Where to see it: Noon-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays through Sept. 27 at MOCA Tucson, 265 S. Church Ave. $5. For more information, call 624-5019 or go to

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at or 573-4128. On Twitter: @kallenStar


Kathleen has covered the arts for the Star for 20 years. Previously, she covered business, news and features for the Tucson Citizen. A near-native of Tucson, she is continually amazed about the Old Pueblo's arts scene and feels lucky to be covering it.