Sustainability Must be Beautiful

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On Thursday, September 30, 2010, I attended the opening gallery reception for the Sustainability Must be Beautiful show located in The Gallery of the Common Experience.

Within the University Honors Coffee Forum in the Lampasas Building, Room 407, of Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, the gallery provided a quaint, yet roomy feel for the show to reside within. With low lights, all 60 pieces appeared shrouded in a beautiful, rich, golden glow. The environment was warm and comfortable, allowing the viewer to completely experience each piece of art.

There from about 2:00PM to the end of the gallery reception at 4:00PM, I happily took pictures as I viewed each unique piece. Capturing interesting shots of each treasure, I was overcome with the sense of sustainability and conservation. The theme of sustainability was apparent within each piece, yet each had it’s own unique take creating interest and intrigue.

First off, I listened to Beth Ferguson, MFA, artist and designer of the solar power station and the founding director of the SolDesign Lab speak about her Deco SolarPump Charging Stations. Beginning to become more popular, one of Ferguson’s charging stations now resides at Texas State University, located between the art and science buildings, showing that art and science can come together to create stylish technology.

From a painted salvaged car hood, dress made from recycled materials, photographs of the environment, and even a dragon created from scraps of leather, there was something for everyone.

From a painted salvaged car hood, dress made from recycled materials, photographs of the environment, and even a dragon created from scraps of leather, there was something for everyone.

After the PowerPoint presentation, the gallery was open to the public, allowing everyone to enjoy the diverse media and thematic interpretations composed by both student and professional artists. With a multitude of artists and mediums, there was an array of materials and colors to experience. From a painted salvaged car hood, dress made from recycled materials, photographs of the environment, and even a dragon created from scraps of leather, there was something for everyone.

All tied together with the theme of sustainability, each piece either reflected ideas of the environment, itself, raised awareness for protection of the environment, educated the public about the Earth, or was simply made from recycled materials in order to conserve resources and encourage recycling. “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world,” reads the wall, quoting naturalist, John Muir, and aptly describing the common idea that the show was based on.

"Dragon Skin" by Lisa Jasak

“Dragon Skin” by Lisa Jasak

Although it was not the most colorful piece, my favorite piece of artwork at the show was “Dragon Skin” by Lisa Jasak. Made from leather scraps, an impressive mythical beast comes to life while expressing encouragement for recycling and the conservation of resources. With great creativity, Jasak was able to construct a large, full-body dragon with simple leather scraps that would have otherwise been thrown away, only to add to the pollution and garbage that flood our world today.

While not necessarily colorful, the dull, beige hue of the dragon does help portray a message of death and decay while the title “Dragon Skin” encourages that ideal. Although I’m unsure of the true meaning behind the piece, I still allow it to speak to me and inspire me while it overwhelms me with its impressive size, interesting subject matter, and creative materials.

A beautiful quilt, full of color and life

A beautiful quilt, full of color and life

Hanging on the wall opposite of “Dragon Skin” resides a beautiful quilt, full of color and life. Showing a utopian lifestyle, close to the Earth and relishing in sustainability, the diverse color scheme reflects life, fertility, and happniess. With bright, happy, and sunny colors, a life of farming and raising livestock is shown as pleaant and rewarding.

This composition and color scheme creates a positive piece of art work that encourages the viewers to consider living a more natural lifestyle in which they could grow their own food or buy local food to support farmers in the area and to support livestock and agriculture.

A powerful painting that uses color in a way to illustrate growth and destruction

A powerful painting that uses color in a way to illustrate growth and destruction

A powerful painting hung in the show, Sustainability Must be Beautiful, uses color in an extraordinary way to illustrate growth and destruction.

At first sight, a large, fruitful tree is apparent and obviously supports the growth and progress of nature, yet through the use of red in conveying the roots of the tree, another image can begin to appear. Upon closer observation, a volcano begins to appear, erupting and bursting lava all about its surface. With these conflicting ideas competing for attention, the viewer is struck with the idea of growth and destruction. The contrast of cool and warm colors help aid the war between the ideas, seeming to tear the painting in two.

This abstraction enables the viewer to decide on what he’s seeing, yet depicts realistic subjects and provokes ideas involving realistic situations. Through the drastic use of color, two intense ideas are presented and allowed to conflict and fight for the viewer’s attention, although the final decision lies with the viewer, himself.

There was food, but I was so enthralled with the art that I forgot to grab some!

There was food, but I was so enthralled with the art that I forgot to grab some!

Treating its guests to 60 different pieces of stunning artwork, The Gallery of the Common Experience presented a successful and powerful show, Sustainability Must be Beautiful. All speaking out for sustainability and support of the environment, the artists used a wide array of materials and mediums to create a diverse arrangement of artwork. With so many unique and creative pieces, there was something for everyone to enjoy.

Of course, there was food, too, but I was so enthralled with the art that I forgot to grab some!