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  June 11, 2009
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Gaia and Global Warming: Women Artists Champion Nature
Art Association
On display June 26 through September 28; opening reception 5:30 p.m. on June 26
ArtSpace Main Gallery
Center for the Arts
240 S. Glenwood St.

Six noted women artists respond to global climate change in six unique and individual ways. Hope Sandrow, Peggy Diggs, Margaret and Christine Wertheim, Nancy Macko and Judy Cotton contribute, and Lowery Stokes Sims curates the installation in the ArtSpace Main Gallery.

Sims also particpates in a free ArtTalk, "Women Artists Champion Nature," with Nancy Macko, Margaret Werthheim and biologist Nalini Nadkarni at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24, in the Center Theater, sponsored by the Center of Wonder.

Over the past five years, organizations such as the Precipice Alliance, Greenhouse Britain, EcoArts and the Artists' Project Earth have brought together visual artists to sound the warnings about global climate change and raise awareness through their work to inspire their fellow planetary citizens to action towards life changes that will insure a sustainable environment. The result has been an explosion of exhibitions, projects and interventions on the themes of climate change, sustainability and ecological responsibility.

The artists in "Gaia and Global Warming: Women Artists Champion Nature" each evidences in her work an uncanny marriage of utility and aesthetics. Hope Sandrow's work features documentation of her breeding of Paduan roosters and hens, an endangered species of fowl. Her relationship to these birds represents a type of human-bird interaction that restores the relationship of urbanized humans to sources of foods they eat. Her work also involves an examination of how humans often alter the behavior of species they domesticate for work, companionship or consumption, and an attempt to free the species of those human interventions.

There has been much discussion of the social dislocations that would be a consequence of global warming. Peggy Diggs, an artist working in Williamstown, Mass., began to think about the experience of living as a refugee, moving from place to place with only a few belongings on her back, and created a project called "WorkOut" – one possible solution to the need to live in tight spaces, perhaps with objects serving multiple functions, and definitely having to be mobile. In collaboration with prisoners at Graterford Prison outside Philadelphia, Diggs created compact, flexible furniture. As part of "Gaia and Global Warming," she will exhibit versions of "WorkOut" and also will come conduct a workshop at the Arts Association.

Margaret and Christine Wertheim are known best for their "Hyberbolic Crochet Coral Reef," initiated by their organizational entity The Institute for Figuring in Los Angeles. This project was initiated not only to highlight the mathematical order and underpinning of earthly creation but also to heighten awareness of the condition of the Great Barrier Reef along the coast of Queensland, Australia. For "Gaia and Global Warming," they will present their "Hyperbolic Crochet Cactus Garden."

Nancy Macko will exhibit aspects of her on-going project, "Hive Universe." Initiated in 1994, the project allows Macko to explore a mythology of bee priestesses based on her research into the role and place of honeybees all over the world. Macko has used painting, printmaking, digital media, photography, video, and installation to create a visual language that examines and responds to issues related to eco-feminism, nature, and ancient matriarchal cultures, as well as to explore her interest in mathematics and prime numbers, in particular in order to make explicit the implicit connections between nature and technology. Macko's work also is prescient given the current crisis around the fate of honeybees, the collapse of colonies worldwide, and the implications for agriculture. A special feature of the installation will be Macko's compilation of bee stories that she collected in various parts of the globe.

Judy Cotton's "Jackson Nature Trail — Duck Walk — Fifty Years from Now — Snake River" juxtaposes her signature yellow rubber ducks (appropriated from dime stores) and the Snake River to represent particular challenges to the landscape posed by global warming and ecological irresponsibility. The effectiveness of the project rests in the contrast between the almost ridiculous and ubiquitous cuteness of the duck forms and the deadly seriousness of the issues that each prototype duck represents.

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