Yearly Archives: 2017

Imagining Water

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

Introduction to the Series, Imagining Water

This post is the first in a year-long series on artists who are making the topic of water a focus of their work and on the growing number of exhibitions, performances and publications that are popping up in museums, galleries and public spaces around the world with water as a theme. Why are so many artists and institutions concurrently recognizing the relevance of this subject matter? Primarily because dramatic water events are occurring at a rapid pace all over the globe, and artists – who generally have a pulse on the most contemporary global trends – are feeling compelled to respond to the immediacy of climate change and its threat to our very existence through their paintings, poetry, plays, novels, dances, films, music and installations.

Some examples from just the last four months demonstrate the prevalence of catastrophic events related to water or the extreme absence thereof: (1) As of April 2017, almost 11 million individuals in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are suffering from extreme hunger – the effects of a severe drought, which has shriveled crops and caused a critical humanitarian disaster; (2) a huge iceberg the size of the state of Delaware and weighing a trillion metric tons, broke away from Antarctica on July 12, 2017, threatening the stability of the entire ice shelf; (3) a few weeks later in July, and perhaps of more significance to the problem of rising sea levels, a chunk of ice the size of three Manhattans broke free in the Arctic, providing a “worrying sign” for what, according to Laurence Dyke, a researcher at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, says is “happening in the rest of Greenland;” and (4) unprecedented flooding caused by intense and sustained rain in the amount of 50 inches in some areas of Houston, Texas, is devastating the fourth largest city in the U.S., today, as I am writing this piece.

As a painter and public artist, I have been engaged since 2011 with the topic of water, its impressive power, its potential for causing global conflict, and how it serves to unite us all through our mutual need for this crucial resource. Imagining Water, #1, the first installment of this series on water, addresses The Wave, my own on-going, public art project on water.

What is The Wave?

The Wave is a national, interactive, public art project celebrating water and its vital function in our lives, which I co-created with my close friend and fellow artist, Elena Kalman. Since September of 2011, The Wave has been installed in 23 museums, galleries, schools, universities, community centers, festivals and parks including: The Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, MA); The National Aquarium (Baltimore, MD); The Rose Kennedy Greenway (Boston, MA); The Wadsworth Atheneum (Hartford, CT); The Manny Cantor Center (NYC); Governor’s Island (NYC); The New Britain Museum of American Art (New Britain, CT); and others.

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The Wave at the National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD

Origins of the Project

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.03 earthquake, centered in Japan, triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 133 feet and shifted the Earth on its axis a distance estimated between 4 and 10 inches. The ensuing tsunami devastated the island country, leaving millions of people without homes, electricity, and clean water and triggering nuclear meltdowns in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Waves resulting from the tsunami traveled across the Pacific Ocean, reaching the coastal areas of California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and western Alaska.

Here, in Connecticut, Elena and I began imagining a picture of that powerful 2011 tsunami in Japan literally “connecting” us all to one another: this enormous wave originating across the world and traveling from continent to continent before washing up on our own “back door.” We talked about developing a project that would visually represent how dramatically we are all connected, regardless of our nationality, religious preferences, race or other artificial divisions, by our mutual dependence on water – one of the most fundamental requirements for life on Earth – and by our mutual susceptibility to the impact of major water events like tsunamis, rising tides, floods and drought.

The Wave as Public Art

During our conversations, we discussed an appropriate format for the project, which we eventually dubbed The Wave. Because we wanted to emphasize the universal nature of water, our individual and community responsibility to protect this vital resource, and the theme of “connected-ness,” we felt very strongly that it needed to be a community engagement, interactive, public art program.

Public art is generally described as any work that is exhibited, and sometimes created, in public spaces so that it is accessible to the general public, not just those who frequent museums and galleries. We chose to create a public art project because, by its very purpose, public art is meant to enrich communities, provoke discussion, and heighten awareness of significant public issues and events. An interactive, public art project enables members of the community, not just the artists, to participate in the creation of the work of art itself. Interactive public art inspires creativity among participants around a specific topic, generates community pride and fosters connections among the participants.

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Wave Participants, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT

The Wave Design

We designed The Wave with these goals in mind. Because the material we use (recyclable, polycarbonate film) is especially unusual, enticing and beautiful, and because it is so easy to simply cut a piece of it into a wave-like shape, each individual coming to a Wave site can feel successful. Thousands of children as young as five, entire school communities including parents, staff, teachers and students of all abilities and ages, adults who are normally intimidated by making art, and seniors, have all embraced the opportunity to “connect” their pieces to the growing, glowing, and undulating Wave that we hope will roll right across the country and beyond. People have asked us why we join the pieces together with black parachute cord that shows up so prominently as an integral part of the installation. Why not use transparent fishing wire or some other invisible material? And, of course, that is the point. We are using the black cord to emphasize how this Wave is being created, piece by piece, connecting individuals, communities, states and, hopefully, an entire nation, to one another.

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Wave Participant, New London Public Library, New London, CT

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Wave Participants, National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD

For more information on The Wave, including hundreds of photographs of all the installations to date, resources for teachers on water issues, and my own blog entitled “On Water and Public Art,” please visit The Wave website.

(Top image: The Wave at the Chase Gallery, West Hartford, CT.)


About Artists and Climate Change:

Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

LAGI Glasgow Exhibition

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Land Art Generator Glasgow exhibition
Tent: Art, Space and Nature, Edinburgh College of Art
8-21 September 2017

The award winning Land Art Generator Glasgow project, developed in collaboration with ecoartscotland, explores creative approaches to using renewable energy in urban contexts as part of place-making approaches to regeneration.

The Land Art Generator Glasgow project focused on the Dundas Hill regeneration site just North of Glasgow City Centre. The project has been develop in partnership with Scottish Canals, BIGG Regeneration and Glasgow City Council.

The exhibition includes the designs by teams led by landscape and architectural practices in Glasgow including ERZ, ZM Architecture and Stallan Brand, and also highlights examples from the Land Art Generator Initiative Open Competitions.

The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) brings together artists, architects, scientists, landscape architects, engineers, and others in a first of its kind collaboration. The goal of the Land Art Generator Initiative is to stimulate the design and construction of public art installations that uniquely combine aesthetics with utility-scale clean energy generation.

As we aggressively implement strategies towards 100% carbon-free energy and witness a greater proliferation of renewable energy infrastructures in our cities and landscapes, we have an opportunity to proactively address the aesthetic influence of these new machines through the lenses of planning, urban design, community benefit, and creative placemaking.

ecoartscotland and the Land Art Generator Initiative were awarded the 2016 Chartered Institution of Water and Environment Management (CIWEM) Arts, Water and Environment Award. The Nick Reeves AWEinspiring Award is presented annually by CIWEM’s Arts and the Environment Network in association with the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW). The award celebrates projects or practitioners who have contributed innovatively to CIWEM’s vision of “putting creativity at the heart of environmental policy and action”.

Dave Pritchard, Chair of CIWEM’s Arts and Environment Network, said: “The quality of nominations for this year’s Award was wonderful. LAGI and ecoartscotland’s work is a superb example of our belief that arts-based approaches offer massive potential for more intelligent ways of responding to environmental challenges”.

The Land Art Generator Initiative’s programme includes in addition to the Glasgow project, a programme of Open Competitions, the next of which will be focused on Melbourne, Australia, in 2018.

There will be a discussion event at MFA Art, Space and Nature 3pm on 21 September. The event will be an opportunity to discuss the role of renewable energy in urban environments, as well as the opportunities presented by the Land Art Generator 2018 Open Competition in Melbourne. Allison Palenske, Alumni and member of the Art, Space and Nature based team that was a featured finalist in the 2014 Copenhagen Open Competition, will discuss making a successful Competition entry.

Please RSVP here 

For further information please contact Chris Fremantle on 07714 203016

Publication from the Land Art Generator Glasgow exhibition at The Lighthouse, Glasgow, 9 June – 29 July 2016

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About EcoArtScotland:

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

[Int21] Residential Short Course and Evening Talk (UK)

Environmental artist Chris Drury and writer Kay Syrad lead a residential short course with guest artist David Buckland from Monday 30 October to Friday 3 November 2017. Chris will also offer a public talk on the evening of Wednesday November 1st.

Part of art.earth’s compelling new programme of short courses and talks. Context and Form, Art and Writing is facilitated by Chris Drury and Kay Syrad. Their special guest is David Buckland, Founding Director of Cape Farewell. Both events take place at Dartington in SW England and are open to all.

In this five-day intensive, Chris Drury shares his renowned practice of working with form, including whirlpool and vortex, fractal and wave patterns, exploring and investigating how aesthetic forms have the universal enfolded within them but are at the same time particular to individual experience.

Kay Syrad has collaborated closely with Chris on a number of art-text projects and brings her rich knowledge and experience of narrative and poetic form.

The programme days assume a regular pattern of immersion in the landscape: walking, collecting, making; reflecting and working inside, with short lectures, shared conversation and discussion, individual tuition, and studio time exploring visual and/or written forms that are personal and universal.

The course includes:
– a series of short lectures on context and form in art and writing
– meditative and sense-based engagement with the landscape
– a chance to experiment together and individually with different forms in language and image
– the opportunity to work outside and inside in dialogue with the tutors

Further information and booking can be found at http://artdotearth.org/context-and-form-art-and-writing/

On the Wednesday evening, Chris Drury will offer a public talk Wandering: earth, art and context.
Tickets are £5 and information can be found at http://artdotearth.org/chris-drury-wandering-earth-art-and-context/