Five Artists Respond to Eco Concerns in 'ReAct!' | Visual Art | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Five Artists Respond to Eco Concerns in 'ReAct!'


Published August 31, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated August 31, 2022 at 10:09 a.m.

Collage by Anne Cummings - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Collage by Anne Cummings

A vintage book that Anne Cummings found in her father's collection inspired her to make a series of collages she titled "Sketches in Crude Oil: The Genesis and Legacy of Fossil Fuels." In successive compositions, faces of "all these wealthy white guys," which she cut from the book, are stacked against a background that seems to be in flames. It's impossible to miss Cummings' message about greedy oil-baron culpability for the dire state of the planet. Especially in an exhibition titled "ReAct! An EcoArt Call to Action."

Cummings and four other Vermont artists contributed works in a variety of mediums for this show at the Grange Hall Cultural Center in Waterbury Center, presented by nonprofit Across Roads Center for the Arts. Intended to represent "reactions to current environmental or social concerns," according to an exhibition announcement, it also celebrates the 10th anniversary of Vermont's universal recycling law. Along with Cummings, who curated the show, Kevin Donegan, Pamela Wilson, Dorsey Hogg and Jennifer Volansky pay more than lip service to the "reuse, reduce, recycle" mantra.

"Speed Queen" by Kevin Donegan - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • "Speed Queen" by Kevin Donegan

Hogg also employs images or pages cut from books and magazines but turns them into 3D sculptures. About the source for her piece "Bound by History" she writes, "This book was printed in 1993, and towards the end of the text a paragraph was dedicated to the crisis of running out of landfill space. We are in that crisis and are still non-stop consuming and creating non-biodegradable waste that fills our land and oceans."

Volansky's assemblage "Connecting the Dots" looks, at first glance, like a display of gaily colored jewelry on and around a piece of driftwood. It is misleading: The curled, confetti-like pieces are cut from cans — pretty but treacherous.

"Receiving Blanket #2" by Pamela Wilson - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • "Receiving Blanket #2" by Pamela Wilson

Donegan creates idiosyncratic sculptures exclusively from discarded, repurposed materials, as well as a sense of humor. His yarn-wrapped shopping cart on a handmade dumpster-cum-pedestal was exhibited last year in Burlington for the South End Art Hop. Among his newer pieces in "ReAct!" is a striking assemblage, "Speed Queen," made from the top of a found washing machine and other scrap metal and ensconced on a bed of river stones.

It's not immediately evident how Wilson's weavings fit the theme of this exhibition, but Cummings explains that she walks the talk by spinning and dying the wool from her own sheep and weaving elegant, abstract wall hangings by hand. In addition, Wilson makes functional porcelain pottery and has a psychotherapy practice "incorporating expressive arts therapy," according to her website.

This entire exhibition might be called expressive arts with eco-consciousness. "ReAct!" is on view through October 15.

The original print version of this article was headlined "'ReAct! An EcoArt Call to Action'"

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