Title and associated graph for painting above - printed on wood - 8 x 8 inches
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#Environmental Art, #Art and Science
LINK TO PORTFOLIO (pdf)
ARTIST STATEMENT: My artistic expressions are rooted in my scientific projects and training. My research focuses on water pollution, including studies on chemicals, urbanization, and anthropogenic litter (trash like plastic, glass, and metal). Well studied in the ocean, research on the ecological dynamics of anthropogenic litter in freshwaters is uncommon. My students and I measure the abundance, sources, movement, and biological interactions of litter in rivers and the Great Lakes. During the course of this work, we have found litter that is fascinating to examine. I’ve kept much of this material to create sculptures which I attach to painted canvases. My artwork has 3 objectives:
Longevity. This litter is one part of the permanent human imprint on the geologic record, an emerging concept tentatively called the “Anthropocene Era”. To make this connection, I wire the litter onto the frames of canvases where I have painted abstractions of geologic layers or satellite images.
Data interpretation. I paired many pieces with a graph that indicates where the material was found, and shows some results we generated from that item. I hope the graph is itself compelling to look at, but also demonstrates that these items are data generated from a systematic, scientific assessment.
Transformation. I hope to convey to onlookers that the rusting and fragmentation of material in the environment generates compelling shapes. The dynamic nature of the surfaces can be easily overlooked. By placing the items in a new context, viewers examine the details of litter. The cracks, algae, rust, rocks, and continuous breakdown bring it alive.
This artwork is a complementary and logical extension of my scientific research. Thinking mathematically and creatively supports both lines of work. It is my hope the combination will expand the audience that receives the message of the research and carries the ideas forward in a new way.