In an art exhibition and symposium at Brown’s Granoff Center, the conversation turns to conservation
Heather McMordie, curator of the exhibition and adjunct lecturer in visual arts at Brown, said the art on display includes fabric and ceramic sculptures, paintings, photographs and multimedia pieces made from glass, plants and insects found. Many are from Indigenous artists and incorporate these artists’ perspectives on land stewardship.
Among the pieces is Sophy Tuttle’s “Solastalgia,” a three-dimensional wall of over 100 boxes with animals inside, created as a memorial to the estimated 150-200 species that go extinct every day across the world; “Pangolin Plush” by Adam Moreno, which uses fabrics representing different indigenous groups to form the shape of a ground pangolin; and “Basement Buds” by Eleanor QC Olson, an oil painting that depicts a thriving ecosystem of insects living in the basement of a Northeast American home.
Field said the symposium will showcase the diverse scholarship of a group of faculty from across Brown Campus whose work deals in some way with animals. According to Field, the group convened regular meetings for years to hold book discussions, informal research presentations and more.
“We come from a wide variety of departments — literature, science, history, sociology, philosophy, physics,” Field said. “At some point, we’ve all done work that examines human-animal relationships in a way that centers the animal. Given the relevance of the Creature Conserve exhibit, I thought, “This is a great opportunity to showcase the diverse and compelling work of this group.
A Conversation on April 22 will bring together experts for a discussion of the historical and current relationship of humans with horses. Later in the day, Bathsheba Demuth, assistant professor of history, environment and society at Brown, will give a lecture on how climate change and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union radically changed the life of reindeer in the Chukchi Peninsula in Siberia. And on April 23, a discussion will feature writer, illustrator and founder of Creature Conserve, Dr. Lucy Spelman.
Field said she hopes exhibit visitors and symposium attendees will leave the experience understanding the value of cross-disciplinary conversations. When scientists, writers and artists work together, she said, their different approaches and ideas can help untangle and solve complex problems.
“Art can reflect on the toughest questions because artists aren’t bound by rules, conventions, or preconceptions,” Field said. “Whether it’s public health, history or conservation, when art is involved it tends to alchemize a conversation and reveal valuable new insights.”
The “Re-Examining Conversation” exhibit is on view throughout the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts through Friday, June 10. It includes a online audio tour with artist statements and more information on each piece. A free public reception will be held at the Granoff Center on Thursday, April 21 at 5:30 p.m.
The symposium begins Thursday, April 21 and ends at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 23. The full schedule is available on exhibition and symposium site.
The exhibition and the symposium are free and open to the public.