ReNatured Art Intervention

Alexander Wyant: Broad Silent Valley (~1880)

This painting is basically in greyscale, which is unusual for a landscape (one not set in winter anyway). It made me immediately think of a newspaper, and the irony of (for instance) printing nature conservation articles on processed woodpulp. I wanted to highlight disposable items with this landscape slipped in unobtrusively.

Intervention in Black and White
Pre-processed newspaper
Pre-processed napkins
Re-processed tree-scape

In retrospect I realize I interpreted the assignment far too narrowly. “Display” can mean many things, and if I had time to redo this project I would check out a projector and display along the Highline. The juxtaposition of human-curated “natural” physical landscape and human-interpreted painting of “pristine nature” could be interesting.

Choosing a painting was difficult. The Oxbow After Thunderstorm, one of my favorites, seemed to be of crop fields rather than natural meadows. My definition of “pristine” is to follow a course completely unaltered by man. Some lovely forest-scapes clearly had footpaths, domesticated animals, gardens. Seascapes were dotted with fishermen, a danger to the underwater ecosystem. In fact a basic reason I am taking this course is to figure out how to restore a sense of stewardship to people.

I have a particularly strong memory from when I lived in downtown Philadelphia. I watched a teenager finish a slice of pizza, then toss the greasy plate NEXT TO a trash can. There is a bone-deep apathy about waste in general, but it feels particularly bad in Philly. Forget recycling, just corralling the mess is a challenge. It is like people are proud to live in a disposable world, that somehow they deserve to burn through resources faster than any previous generation. Across the globe access to clean water is a constant struggle, but we have yet to be pushed from our comfort zone.


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