Curated by Phil Anderson, the Executive Director of Gallery 1313, Eco Art aims to undertake the major anxieties concerning environmental issues in a personal manner. These issues of water and air pollution, urban sprawl, and mass consumerism are included in the works of over ten artists, using “mixed media, installation art, painting, photography, and textiles.” This dialogue of degradation speaks to our relationship with the changing environment through art.
Upon entering the gallery, visitors are confronted by a striking painting by Peter Adams, which Anderson describes as a “toxic river.” The piece features a red river surrounded by a sprawling city, similar to the skyline of Toronto. The haphazard brushstrokes on the polluted river resemble a blood spatter, which creates a violent image in contrast to the familiar cityscape. Adams’ painting is one of the more severe perspectives in the exhibit, identifying a portrait of water contamination.
Pieces by Ashley Snook and Natalie Jachyra incorporate human elements into their work. Snook’s illustration entitled Hybrid (In Sync) implies the unity that must exist between humans and nature, while Jachyra’s photographs present an environment that is seemingly vacant and devoid of human presence. The overgrown trees and weeds hint at abandonment or isolation, but there is still a sense of calm in the implied silence of the photographs. This presence and absence of human life in nature places the works of both artists in conversation with each other, displaying distinctive viewpoints.
Repair Café by Anne Winter, created from pieces of demolished buildings, suggests a hopeful outlook. Winter has taken these remnants of demolition to repurpose them into a new construction, showing that renewal can stem from destruction.
The various works augment one another in subtle ways, and each artist in the Eco Art exhibit manages to present a personal and poignant perspective.