Last week I was asked by the Student Environmental Association (SEA) at USF to submit work for their upcoming RecycleFest and gallery show. The conversation (heavily, heavily paraphrased) went something like this:
SEA: "Hey Emily, would you like to include some of your work in our upcoming Activart gallery show? It is about recycling, sustainability, and the environment. Most of the other pieces are made from recycled or reused objects."
Me: "Definitely! How many pieces? When? Where?"
SEA: "Basically as many as you want. We had a lot of people drop out. We need them to be at the CentreGallery by 1pm tomorrow."
Me: "............I AM SO PREPARED FOR THIS MOMENT!"
That conversation took place at 9pm (fifteen hours before drop-off time), so after a high-five selfie I began madly grabbing art off the walls of our apartment. I knew that the space would be filled mainly with my work since many other artists has dropped out, so I decided it would be best to submit works in a few mediums to maintain the variety originally intended for the show.
Because I often work with acrylics on reclaimed wood, many of my paintings fit perfectly in the show and were ready to go with no additional preparation. I chose five to take to the gallery.
Since my drawings are deeply rooted in environmental issues I though they would also be a great fit for the SEA. I framed a collection of six pieces from Past and Future Travels of Here Right Now for the show--the six drawings each feature planets in various states of human development/takeover. This piece was the most work to prepare last-minute: the frame has been sitting in the lab for a few months (I grab big frames whenever I can thrift them for cheap) and needed to be painted, and I had to cut a mat for the pieces as
well. This went to the gallery along with two of my larger drawings.
Three of my encaustic monoprints were also prepared for display that race of a night. Of all my pieces I have ever made, these ones transform the most through the act of framing.
An old sculpture of mine is in the gallery as well, although it is not one of my favorite pieces. It was made for a "found object" project in college, and while I consider it to be an important work for me contextually my aesthetic has changed a great deal since its creation. However, it is a marvelous fit for this show, and I love seeing it side by side with other recycled art pieces.
These cool clutches are also part of the display--plastic grocery bags were fused together and sewn into a fashionable object. The material looks like hide, and the texture of the fused bags creates beautiful patterns. Why go for a leather purse if these bags are waterproof, durable, expressive, and made with a recycled material?
The CentreGallery is entirely student-run, and they do an absolutely fantastic job. Displays are well-placed and organized. Everything flowed together through the space.
I was unable to be there for the install, and walking into the gallery for the first time was unreal. I felt like I was on a weird home-improvement show where someone took things out of my house, put them somewhere else, and revealed it to me with a "Surprise! We made your stuff look incredibly beautiful through the magic of proper lighting and spacing." I looked at my work and couldn't believe that it was mine.
Dave also was impressed. "I mean, I've seen these paintings every day since you made them, but they just did not look like this before." I guess we need to get some better lights for the house!