Art and nature

Queen's Journal
9 January 2015

An assortment of ecological works

Nestled within the walls of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, “I Hope Humanity…” is a meaningful exhibition that makes a sobering point about humanity’s destructive impact on the global environment.

The collection includes abstract art pieces, oil paintings, and embroidered tapestry among other forms of visual art. Although the collection can at first be perceived as a somewhat random array of pieces, it comes together cohesively to demonstrate the consequences of human development on the world we live in.

“I Hope Humanity…” was developed by Elysia French, MA’15, under the supervision of Curator of Contemporary Art Sarah E.K. Smith. It includes work from artists Carol Conde, Karl Beveridge, Robert Fones, Eleanor Bond and Don Maynard.

The exhibition’s name is drawn from the main painting in the collection by artist Douglas Copeland. It features a black-and-white QR barcode with spontaneous bright squares of colour, primarily used for scanning in technology.

The simplicity of the painting caters to the overall theme, which drew me in immediately. The familiarity of the piece allowed me to come to the conclusion that it was a subtle reference to the advancement of technology playing a role in environmental destruction.

In contrast to this, the main oil painting in the exhibition, by Eleanor Bond in 1948, titled Later, Some Industrial Refugees Form Communal Settlements in Logged Valley in B.C., depicts a striking landscape of deep, rich purple and blue hues that shows another, historical-based side to the environment’s struggle.

The painting portrays the rise of settlements in the 1900s overlooking a vast expanse of water, a symbol that seemed to me as foreshadowing the impending takeover of the industrial world.

Next to the softness of the oil painting hangs a large mass of twisted copper and aluminum entitled Smoke Signal #1, by Don Maynard. This piece serves as a harsh representation of the toll that has been taken on the environment through the human extraction and exhaustion of the world’s natural resources.

Although “I Hope Humanity…” is somewhat overwhelming due to the extensive differences between each piece — it can be difficult to see it as a convincing, united whole because of this — each work sufficiently panders to the point that humanity is effectively destroying the natural world.

”I Hope Humanity…” is held at the AEAC until April 2015.

IMAGE: Douglas Copeland’s piece I Hope Humanity… (Mitchell Gleason)

-Kashmala Omar, Arts Editor
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