Environmental art emerged in the 1960s as a movement to facilitate a sustainable balance between human nature and the natural world. These artists often employed a range of art forms and worked collaboratively with specialists from scientific communities to interpret human and social behaviors and their impact on the environment. Currents: Art and the Environment addresses such environmental and ecological concerns as climate change, soil, water and air quality and the impact occurring with the depletion and degradation of these resources. Featured are models, sculptures, photos, video and prints by artists and organizations whose work draws attention to local, national and international ecosystems. Projects by organizations working to clean up the environment include the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Canary Project, Double Exposure and the Learning Barge, a collaboration between Crisman & Petrus Architects and the Elizabeth River Project.
The Learning Barge was developed to clean up the Elizabeth River, one of the most contaminated estuaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Phoebe Crisman of Crisman & Petrus Architects took the project to the University of Virginia School of Architecture where multi-disciplinary teams of UVA students and faculty researched, designed and fabricated the project into the Learning Barge, a platform where citizens could learn about the processes of river sediment remediation and tidal wetland restoration in order to create sustainable human and ecological systems. Photos and models of the project will be featured along with the Learning Barge, which will be available for visitation on weekends from March 5-13 at High Street Landing. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation will also feature photos that capture both the pristine beauty and problems that threaten the Chesapeake Bay.
Photographs by Susannah Saylor, co-founder of the Canary Project highlight the impact of climate change studied by scientists around the world. David Arnold, a free-lance photo-journalist from the Boston Globe pairs his photos with those by Brad Washburn taken in the early – mid 1900s to reveal how dramatically the climate has changed over time.
Maya Lin, creator of the Vietnam Memorial has devoted her final memorial project to creating digital media that raises awareness of losses in biodiversity, habitats and species. Kim Abeles draws attention to the air we breathe in a series entitled Smog Collectors where she literally creates a footprint from the sky. From a painting by Anne Iott to living sculpture by Michele Brody, sculptures of natural materials by Brent Crothers and Steven Siegel and poignant glass work by Fred Wilson, the exhibit offers work that creates a physical poetry about our relationship with the natural world.