Press release : The shape of the environment, an exhibition that explores a wide variety of topics related to environmental issues, will take place at the Laboratoire Arts + Littérature from August 23 to November 4, 2022. The vernissage will take place on Friday August 26, from 6-8pm. Organized by Lelia Byronthe exhibition includes works by Fabio Erdos, Patrizia Ferreira, Hong Huo, Hattie Lee, Lianne Milton, Richie Morales, Beth Racette, Nirmal Raja, Spark, Roberto Torres Mata, Maria Amalia Wood, Derick Wycherlyand Rina Young. The exhibition is free and open to the public during normal gallery opening hours. During the exhibition, there will also be a number of free interactive events, including an opening reception, educational workshops, a film screening, a reading, a discussion event for scientists and artists and an event closing with a performance. The reading will include work from Tension Zones Collective Daybook with Martha Bergland, Chuck Stebelton, Kate VandenBosch, Jane Curtis and Rose Heflin, plus special guest Mrill Ingram. See the list below for dates and times of all events.
Free public events:
August 26 (Friday) – Opening of the exhibition – 6-8 p.m.
September 18 (Sunday) – Orientations: a reading from the Tension Zones collective daybook with Martha Bergland, Chuck Stebelton, Kate VandenBosch, Jane Curtis, Rose Heflin, plus special guest Mrill Ingram – 2pm-4pm
October 1 (Saturday) – Film screening – 7 p.m.-9 p.m.
October 8 – (Saturday) Papermaking workshop for adults – 2pm-4pm
October 16 – (Sunday) Discussion event with artists and scientists – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
November 4 – (Friday) Closing Party and Gallery Performance – 5pm to 9pm
The Arts + Literature Lab is located at 111 S Livingston St Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thanks to the Madison Arts Commission and Dane Arts for supporting this project.
According to Lelia Byron, “I believe artists can be creative problem solvers and innovators. One idea for the exhibition is to serve as a platform or bridge bringing together artists, writers, scientists and community members to make connections and help foster a collaborative creative community working to think of innovative ways to address environmental issues.
In The Shape of the Environment, exhibiting artists convey the importance of different environmental issues to people around the world. For example, in her photo series, The Hinterland, Lianne Milton photographs the semi-arid region known as Sertãoao, Brazil, documenting how deforestation of the Amazon rainforest is drastically changing the climate. Filmmaker Fábio Erdos, meanwhile, is working on a recent Greenpeace expedition to Antarctica and its deep waters. His project shares with us the diverse, colorful and abundant world that inhabits the seabed beneath the icebergs and the impact of climate change on this region.
Of course, in the exhibition, natural materials and the living also have a strong presence. Rina Yoon’s work, for example, includes some of the remains from the Bighorn Fire burn sites in Arizona. These remains were collected, cleaned and added hand-rolled paper as a way to converse with the trees that may not have survived the fire but still had a story to tell. Meanwhile, The Tree of Life by Patrizia Ferreira has at its center an Ombú tree, a centuries-old dioecious evergreen tree native to the Pampas of Uruguay and Argentina. In his work, he functions as an allegorical representation of resilience.
Another recurring topic among exhibiting artists is the interest in exploring materials. In making her collages and fiber works, Hattie Lee thinks of the ingenuity of Aboriginal stories and survival, the ancestors of rural agriculture and the values of her Depression-era grandmother. In Strange Dwelling, Hong Huo mixes ink with soapy water and uses his breath to blow bubbles onto paper. Using fire and water, a complementary pair in Chinese philosophy, as a central theme, Hong asks if we can find a balanced way to live among these extremes of ideas, opinions and environmental conditions. Finally, Sparker explores materials to create immersive installations, rendering an environment totally abstract, absurd, absurd. The non-narrative in Sparker’s installations gives nothing to cling to, no expectations or timelines to grasp, no events vulnerable to judgment.
Roberto Torres Mata and Derick Wycherly delve into artisanal papermaking. Roberto draws on sheets of paper made by hand from mulberry trees. Her work on migration examines the critical factors, including the impact of climate change, that cause displacement. Derick Wycherly’s work views giving as an Indigenous technology that connects people to each other and to the land they occupy. Specializing in printmaking and papermaking, Derrick’s handmade paper maps our relationships in time and space.
In the exhibition, the artists also explore language and interdisciplinary fields. For his work, Nirmal Raja reflects on the special significance of clouds in India as the much-anticipated carriers of the monsoon season after a long, dry summer. His work, Cloud Palace, is inspired by an epic poem titled Meghdootam or “cloud messenger” written by a 4th century Indian poet, Kalidasa. Richie Morales also explores language, describing painting as his first language. His work for the exhibition focuses on the arms industry and the genealogy of violence, describing the arms industry from production to use as the most destructive human activity for Nature.
For many artists, the realization of the work presented in this exhibition was an opportunity to learn and reflect. For Beth Racette, making her series of Gaia paintings was an opportunity to learn about and represent the many systems and aspects of the Earth. These paintings reflect Beth’s contemplation of the interconnectedness of life and the processes of flow. Maria Amalia Wood, whose creative practice incorporates textiles, papermaking and community-driven storytelling, reflects on her experience during the deadliest Atlantic hurricane in Central American history in 1998, posing the question: “How long before fixing what we tore is no longer an option?”