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WPCA Presents ‘Climate Change in the North Woods’

Art Review

Oct. 13, 2009
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Artists, scientists and educators came together to offer their prestige to the current exhibit “Paradise Lost? Climate Change in the North Woods” at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts (WPCA). The traveling exhibition culminates a two-year tour of the Midwest, with Milwaukee as its final stop, and finishes with a closing reception on Gallery Night and Day, Oct. 16-17.

Each contributor donated an artwork specifically created to publicize the crucial issue of climate change. This includes two fabric sculptures by Marilyn Annin titled The Warming, which envisions the goddess Gaia (Mother Earth) and Man engaged in an ecological conversation. An artist from Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, David Niec, displays five small-scale oils portraying the vanishing winter weather, including Moonlight and Shadow on Snow.

All of the artwork mounted on the WPCA gallery walls, featuring a variety of mediums and abilities, additionally complements the scientific information behind the environmental concerns of climate change. Original music composed for the traveling exhibit also accompanies the artwork; while pleasant, it may be overreaching in its importance. A softbound exhibition catalog that revisits every artist and contributor statement regarding this timely subject allows for further review after leaving the gallery.

The exhibition’s social objective underscores the fact that artwork often serves multiple purposes without sacrificing the artist’s talent or the viewer’s interest. Each artwork alone speaks volumes, but viewers can infer their own conclusions as well. Applying the visual arts to political or social events reinforces the historical tradition exemplified by Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica, a painting that depicts the horrific aftermath of the 1937 bombing of Guernica, Spain. This approach employed by “Paradise Lost?” undeniably captures the public’s attention and encourages discussion of ideas and issues that could otherwise be dismissed or overlooked.

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