Earth Day → Art Month
As the ground comes alive after a long winter, sending up annual springtime buds and hopes for a brighter future, our attention turns to Earth Day and the environment. We’re honoring our commitment to the earth with a moment for reflection through a virtual look back on the last decade of Flinn Gallery shows and artists focused on environmental concerns.
Exploring the unique problems of plastic waste, 2018’s Hazardous Beauty featured Alejandro Durán’s installation of colorful debris, all found washed ashore at the UNESCO World Heritage site Sian Ka’an in Mexico, alongside Willie Cole’s large scale sculptures created with plastic bottles collected much closer to home, in New Jersey. Alyse Rosner called attention to the toxicity of our immediate, familiar surroundings with graphite rubbings of her pesticide-laden decking, layered with fluid acrylic paint, itself a form of plastic, in 2017’s Venus Fly. Suzan Shutan’s tar paper installations, seen in 2019’s Fluid Terrain, took both their material and form from oil, to comment on spills and our carbon footprints.
Concerns about the sustainability and safety of waterways were addressed by Frances Ashforth in 2019’s Time & Place: Works on Paper, while Kathleen Vance examined the path of Greenwich’s Horseneck Brook in 2014’s Reconnecting with Nature. Climate change, seen in the effects of Superstorm Sandy, was the catalyst for Heinrich Spillmann’s sculptures, crafted from fallen trees, in 2014’s Albertini + Spillmann.
The five artists in our 2016 recycling-oriented Reclaim, Reprocess show (Jaynie Crimmins, Alice Hope, Jonathan Mess, Constance Old, and Joanne Ungar) shone a spotlight on consumerism by transforming materials including cardboard boxes and inserts, aluminum can tabs, and shredded junk mail into art, diverting them from landfills. Rebecca Hutchinson gathered post-industrial textile surplus and cast-off cotton clothing to pulp into handmade paper sculptures, seen in 2018’s Forces of Nature.
While we’re focusing here on our recent exhibition history, we’ve featured artists working with recycled materials, our connection to nature, and our impact on the earth since well before the first Earth Day in 1970.
Greenwich Library has created a reading list if you’d like to explore environmental artists further.