Artists connect with natural and man-made environment

The College Art Gallery opened the school year with “Art & Environment,” an exhibition featuring artwork by the College art department faculty.

The diversity of materials used (canvas, video and cherry wood, among others) was as diverse as the various interpretations of the environment. The show featured landscapes, an animation about immigration and the Internet as a representation of the environment.

Lois Fichner-Rathus, professor of art, conveyed her interpretation through compelling media.

“I think she was very interested in taking the natural world and abstracting it,” Sarah Cunningham, director of the College Art Gallery, said.

Her digital prints, “Spur Ice Plateau/Noguchi” and “Enceladus/Noguchi,” took ice and made it jump off the page at the viewer.

“Handscape,” a large sculpture hand-carved from cherry wood, is a piece illustrating the direct connection between humans and the environment. Cunningham described the piece as having a “physicality” to it, and also said it allows the audience to “appreciate both the material and the form.”

A few of the pieces had political undertones, such as “Periphery Two” and “Arbol Torcido.” “Periphery Two,” a two-channel digital video by Anita Allyn, asssociate art professor, is a very dramatic piece, featuring soldiers as butterflies, flying underground above a layer of dripping blood.

“Arbol Torcido,” a seven-minute digital animation by Ricardo Miranda, is a part of an even bigger project, “Carreta Nagua, Siglo 21.” This project was a rickshaw made from recycled parts that gave free rides to people in a Mexican city. As they rode around the city, riders would watch the animation piece, which was about immigration issues.

The animation was essentially a conversation between two characters about what one gains and loses by moving to the United States. The project was able to showcase a very complex political issue while touching on the personal narratives of many.

Chris Ault’s Flash piece, “Hot Air,” showed the Internet as an environment. Ault, assistant professor of art, took popular Google search terms and tags on Web sites, like Perez Hilton and The Huffington Post, and formatted them into buildings and roads.

Several other pieces showed much more traditional images of nature. Marcia Taylor’s “In My Own Backyard,” was a simple, yet charming watercolor of a plant. Ivette Spradlin’s digital prints, “Caught! 1” and “Caught! 2,” captured animals in their natural environments.

“Art & Environment” is an exhibition for those who are interested in new perspectives on the environment and everything it can encompass.