Published on February 28th, 2013 | by Taylor Majewski0
Environmental Art at Outdoor Gallery, Roadside Attraction
Creating environmentally conscious artwork is fast becoming a movement among twenty first century artists. Environmental art has the power to change the way in which we view our world; the associative power between art and nature lies in the hands of environmental artists, who constantly create new ways to redefine our relationship with nature. Environmental art can be evocative, provocative or sublime, and oftentimes communicates the urgent message that we need to protect our planet.
The Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, California recently opened Roadside Attraction, an outdoor gallery that is easily visible to commuters and pedestrians in the busy Pasadena area, sending the environmentally friendly messages of the works to an audience larger than museum frequenters. The gallery is currently displaying Water & Power, a collection of works by Whitney Bedford, Katie Shapiro and Emilie Halpern.
Interestingly, the exhibit has a more layered message that goes beyond environmental concerns. All three artists link their work to current social, political and economic issues. Both Bedford and Shapiro explore the tensions between man and environment, while Halpern chooses to capture the ocean in its purest form, away from human contact. Throughout them all is an unmistakable sense of urgency for viewers to protect the environment and rethink their relationship to it.
Bedford’s Untitled Shipwreck (Seduction) is a depiction of a seascape, painted with harsh brush strokes and a dramatic black and red palette. Her work is reminiscent of the British Romantic landscape painter, J.M.W. Turner, conveying terror of the sublime and the uncertain; however, her work is also highly relevant to modern society since the tumultuous ocean water directly relates to the tumultuous state of economic and social structures.
In her photographic series, Malibu Sandbags, Shapiro explores the result of human invasion on the ocean shore, as beachside mansions have destroyed the purity of Malibu’s shore. Her photographs capture the complex relationship between humans and their environment, the sandbags acting to protect the expensive beachfront properties while simultaneously serving as status symbols for modern wealth.
Halpern’s Nocturne is a simple photograph of the Atlantic Ocean, capturing its simultaneous vastness and mystery. Within the waves of the water, Halpern subtly spells out the word “love,” affirming that we must protect our environment even if it is unfamiliar.
Water & Power is provocative because the artists not only draw attention to environmental issues, but also relate these issues to a failing economy and growing divide between social classes. Best of all, the exhibit is visible to a diverse audience, inviting the average passerby to pause, absorb and enhance their motivation to protect our natural environment and each other.