Tag Archives: Silent Spring

Making art with a message

In the epigraph of my copy of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, E.B.White is quoted:

“I am pessimistic about the human race because it is too ingenious for its own good. Our approach to nature is to beat it into submission. We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively instead of skeptically and dictatorially.”

Bees have been all over print and social media lately. Concerns are now being raised about the use of pesticides called neonicotinoids, and their effects on bees. The pesticide affects the nervous system of these tiny creatures, which impedes their ability to navigate and find nourishment. You need to look no further than your cereal shelf or your refrigerator to find foods that rely solely on bee pollination. Cranberries are one of these plants.

Blessed by the Bumblebee

Elizabeth Busey. Blessed by the Bumblebee. Reduction Linocut. 23 x 16in. Edition of 12.

I wanted to experiment with creating work that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but might force the viewer to think about the image. What is this pattern? What does it mean? Why did the artist choose to impose this extra element into the work? In Blessings of Bumblebees, I take a view of a cranberry bog at harvest time and place it within the matrix of a honeycomb. Cranberries — a native shrub to North America — are created through flower pollination. While imported honey bees do pollinate these plants, our native bumblebees actually do a better job. The plant and the insect were made for each other. (more…)

Share

What if the canvas was blank?

In preparation for my upcoming show and Open Studios, I’ve spent the better part of the spring in my basement printing and thinking. My latest linocut, Evanescence, considers a land form that is both beautiful and under threat — the river delta.
Reduction linocut of River Delta
Elizabeth Busey, Evanescence, Reduction Linocut, Edition of 10, 28in diameter, $550 unframed.

River deltas are wetlands that carry and deposit sediment into a particular mostly triangular shape. Like other wetlands, they are very important to both people and wildlife. River deltas provide protection from storms, filter run-off, and contain food and other resources.

River deltas don’t just happen anywhere. Strong tides or wave actions from the body of water that they meet prevent many from forming. Many river deltas are sinking because of human activity. Dams and other water control measures change the delicate balance between sediment and water flow. Removal of deltas’ water, oil and natural gas resources are causing their elevations to change. Imagine if these lacy fans vanished into the oceans — leaving places like Bangladesh, Louisiana and the Pearl River in China vulnerable. An estimated 500 million people live on river deltas.

It is a puzzle to me how visual artists can illustrate the lack of something. White canvases a la Robert Rauschenberg? What is the visual equivalent of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring?

Questions like these were on my mind as I spent an afternoon recently at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. On the top floor I came across a mixed media installation by Mark Dion and his studio team. Harbingers of the Fifth Season is comprised of an artist/naturalist’s desk complete with materials. Detailed watercolors on cork board illustrate the many invasive species that have been introduced to new habitats and subsequently damaged existing ecosystems. On the reverse, three chalkboards chronicle the ever-growing list of extinct species.

Mark Dion, Harbingers of the Fifth Season, Mixed Media Installation, 2014.
Invasive species are chronicled in naturalist’s watercolor sketches.

 

Reverse of Mark Dion’s Harbingers of the Fifth Season, 2014.
Extinct species are handwritten on three large chalkboards.

The installation is calm and quiet, belying the real pressure that invasive species are placing on ecosystems around the world. How much can one artist’s work do, sequestered on the top floor of a medium-sized city’s art museum?

Time to reread Silent Spring and try to discover Rachel Carson’s secret.

If you are anywhere near Bloomington, Indiana please consider joining me for:

•   Considering the Beloved   •
Bloomington Convention Center Art Gallery
302 S. College Ave, Bloomington IN
June 5 –
July 27, 2015
Opening
Reception, Friday June 5, from 5pm – 8pm
Hors
d’oeuvres, wine & performance by guitarist Atanas Tvetkov

Bloomington Open Studios Tour   •
Join me in my printmaking studio
4324 E Beacon Ct, Bloomington IN
Saturday,
June 6 (10am – 6pm) and Sunday, June 7 (10am – 4pm)
See new
work, enjoy refreshments and try your hand at printing.

 

Visit
BloomingtonOpenStudiosTour.com to plan your entire tour.
Share