Demo Eco M.O., a group exhibition curated by Linda Weintraub opens on July 18 at the NURTUREart Gallery at 910 Grand Street in East Williamsburg. Featured artists include Carol Taylor-Kearney, Christina Massey, John Day, Tamar Hirschl, Gunter Puller, Lynn Richardson, Scrapworm, Anne Katrin Spiess, Patricia Tinajero, Joyce Yamada, and Joanne Ungar. Yamada Massey
The earnest pursuit of environmental responsibility has even determined the opening night refreshments for this exhibition. Guests will “eat local” by sipping filtered rainwater and nibbling on sprouts grown on site.
Special Guest curator Linda Weintraub invited ten artists from the NURTUREart registry to break the conventions of art display and production that arose during the first flush of industrial productivity. Instead of taking abundance for granted, tolerateing waste, and disregarding contamination, the artists exhibiting in Demo Eco M.O. ‘Demonstrate Ecological Modes of Operation’ in art.
Weintraub explains, “The unconventional materials, tools, and processes the artists introduce comprise a professional critique targeting artists, gallerists, art supply manufacturers, and other art professionals. They are eco-crusaders whose fervor for environmental reform coincides with delight in humor, commitment to community, and generous offerings of good will. Together they minimize art’s footprint upon the environment and maximize art’s mark upon the culture.
Behind-the-scenes eco-innovations occurred during the weeks preceding the opening. Weintraub invited the artists to emulate the interdependencies, interconnectedness, and efficiencies that characterize vital ecosystems as they prepared their artworks. A spirited exchange was thereby initiated as the artists reformulated art practices according to these mandates:
-Mediums were traded -Visual elements were exchanged. -Tools were fabricated and shared. -Trafficking between studios and the gallery became a bicycle-based performative artwork. -General maintenance regimes became components of the other participants’ contributions. -Illumination of the entire exhibition was contributed by one light sculpture.
Meanwhile, the network of interactions expanded to include members of the gallery staff. They participated in the material exchanges and scrupulously applied sustainable criteria to the production of the exhibition catalogue, invitation, and wall labels. Even members of the board were enlisted to supply components of works of art. In all these ways the rigid borders that isolate artists in their studios and separate professional roles dissolved. It was replaced with a dynamic multi channeled arena of participation that avoided redundancies, reduced consumption, eliminated waste, and conserved energy.
The contributions of the individual artists demonstrate the environmental advantages of such cooperative behaviors:
Carol Taylor-Kearney applies her creative and aesthetic ingenuity to fabricate art-making tools. By lending them to other artists in the exhibition she helped reduce unnecessary expenditures of material and energy associated with manufacturing, packaging, and transporting art tools.
Christina Massey gathered unsold and rejected works of art donated by the other artists and utilized them as her medium. She not only avoided purchasing new art materials, she helped other artists reduce the material and energy costs associated with storing and preserving art.
John Day offers artists and gallery visitors alternatives to purchasing newly manufactured art mediums by focusing on the formal qualities of society’s discards. The waste stream becomes a site of enticing aesthetic opportunities.
Tamar Hirschl methodically inventories neglected resources and documents the new contexts and uses for these items that she initiates in her artwork. In this manner she exemplifies responsible engagement with material.
Gunter Puller demonstrates the full cycle of disintegration and creation by dismantling an outdated Yellow Book and then exposing it to the sun and rain. As the pages decompose, they transform into a growing medium for seeds that travel in the urban air and settle there by chance.
ScrapwormLynn Richardson reduces the electricity used in galleries by creating a sculpture that consists of light fixtures and surveillance technology. The light from her sculpture is designed to illuminate the other works in the exhibition, but only when they are being viewed.
Scrapworm performs on-site narratives that reveal the recent and historic manipulation of Williamsburg ecosystems. The performance aspect of her contribution avoids the ecological costs of material fabrication, display, transport, and storage of art.
Anne Katrin Spiess provides a low carbon dioxide emissions alternative to motorized transportation of mediums, tools, and art works. She performs these art pick-ups and deliveries on her bicycle.
Patricia Tinajero establishes a functional reintegration between the gallery and its ecosystem by collecting and utilizing the rainwater that falls upon the gallery’s roof. The resource supplies gallery visitors with water to drink and to grow edible plants. She thereby severs the gallery’s dependence on municipalities to provide water for business and life-supporting activities.
Joyce Yamada and Joanne Ungar evoke the necessity of undertaking the thorough eco-overhaul of art practices by demonstrating the consequences of denying, ignoring, or defying environmental reforms.
Weintraub concludes, “Demo Eco M.O. expands the application of environmental considerations far beyond artists’ choices of medium. The exhibition demonstrates ways to reduce the footprint of exhibiting, transporting, storing, and maintaining art. Furthermore, it activates such ecological aspects of artistic collaboration as sharing resources and providing support services. In all these ways the artists demonstrate principles of sustainability that apply to all human behaviors. Such art asserts that artists’ responsibility to the environment begins with a thorough review of their own professional practices.”