Category Archives: repurposed objects

Openlands Preserves Nature and Presents Art

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When Fort Sheridan was developed as a residential community, a grant enabled the creation of the Openlands Nature Preserve.  This project is a restoration and preservation of one of the last remaining ravine and bluff ecosystems in the metropolitan region.  There are beautiful walkways, complemented by original, site-specific works of art.

Interpretive signs illuminate the environment and the art with poetry by Lisa Roberts, who curated the art selections.  The works are by Kate Friedman (Reading The Landscape), Vivian Visser (a driftwood installation called Erode), Ginny Sykes (a mixed-media mural on an underpass called Arc of Nature), Sharon Bladholm (cast bronze/resign plaques on a stone wall called Soil:  Alive With Life) and Olivia Petrides (painted obelisks called Leaf and Earthbark Prisms).

The ravine walk is wonderful, a gentle incline down to a beautiful beach.  The art is a perfect complement to the environment.  It serves an educational function while enhancing our experience of the beauty and complexity of nature, and our place in it.

Petrides’ striped prisms reminded me of the work of artist Kerry Hirth.  She is a synasthetic artist, which means that she interprets sound as color.  She created a work called Birds Lost from a Giant Sequoia Forest During Fifty Years (pastel on canvas, 12″ X 48″).  She explains that “This painting begins at the deep roots of a sequoia forest and moves up the trees toward the treetops and then further up the mountainside to a pine forest and ultimately to the sky. Between the roots and the sky, there are seven distinct sections. Each section represents a species of bird that once lived in the forest but no longer does as a result of habitat destruction. The sections are defined by the way they reflect the distinct plumage of each bird.”

"Birds Lost", by Kerry Hirth

Sometimes art as “earthworks” is a destruction or disruption of the natural environment in which it is placed.  Not in this case.  I look forward to returning to the Openlands Preserve and spending more time with the art, particularly the poetry that accompanies each visual art piece on a trail marker.

Advertisements

Creative Collaboration As It Should Be

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The current exhibit at Fill In The Blank Gallery, entitled “Habitual Growth”, is an example of a fully integrated, successful collaboration by three talented artists:  Alexis Ortiz, Julia Gootzeit and Katie Schofield.  Together, they created an environment that is so symbiotic, all the objects seem to just have grown in the gallery.  This is no small feat, considering the materials used:  ceramic vessels, nest-like shapes crocheted from plastic grocery bags, cascades of keys, little dyed, felted balls, stripes of soil and ristras of red ceramic carroty thingies.

The artists recycle, re-use, re-purpose.  All of the recycled objects bring their own stories to the table, and the artists cast them in a new context, layering different perspectives.  The result is a rich, fresh, intriguing mix that comes together incredibly well.  The exhibit will be up at 5038 N. Lincoln Avenue until Aug. 20.  It’s well worth a visit– check the gallery website for hours.

I am preparing for a two-person show next spring with artist Harriet Kohn, at PerficalSense Studio.  We discussed the idea of whether  to collaborate on work together, or just show our independent, though complementary, work.  Seeing the seamless collaboration created by Alexis, Julia and Katie raised the bar for us.  Now we have to decide:  pas de deux,  or ensemble?  This is where my inner elementary school teacher is saying, ” Judy, you’re not a team player.”  We’ll see what happens!

Re-Purposing Hubcaps for Art

"Birth of Earth", re-purposed hubcap art by Judith Joseph for Landfill Art Project

Back in December of 2008, artist and gallery owner Ken Marquis contacted me and asked me to participate in the “Landfill Project”.  At the time, he had over 100 international artists on board; by now, the project has grown to over 800 artists!

The idea was to salvage hubcaps, clean them up and give them to artists to have their creative way with them.  I’ll never forget the day my hubcap arrived in the mail.  There was much laughter in my house, as I pulled it from the box and tried to explain to my family that it was going to be an art piece.

I pulled together a scrap of silk I had hand-painted as an experiment, brass foil and wire, and went to work.  The silk looked, to me, like the roiling soup of primordial creation, at the beginning of the universe.  So, I thought about Earth being born, like a baby, gasping for its first breath, emerging from the amniotic caul.  I thought of my mother, who emerged from birth wearing her birth caul “like an undershirt”, which her father proclaimed to be a sign of good luck.  (He was right; so far, at age 84, she’s had a very lucky, happy life.  I can only wish good luck to our Mother Earth, who could use some!)

Ken Marquis’ idea sounded kind of crazy at first, but if you peruse the gallery of his hupcap art, you will be amazed at the inventiveness of artists from around the world, in re-imagining these metal disks.  The take-away message for me is, why don’t we approach all of our environmental problems with this kind of creative energy?

Landfill Art was just profiled in an AP article:  Hubcaps As Canvas:  Artists Turn Junk Into Jewels (where you can see my hubcap in slide #4).   Ken needs 150 more professional artists for the project– see application and the complete “Gallery of Metal Canvases” at the Landfill Art website.