“Sanctuary,” Solo Exhibition at Gallery@221 HCC, Dale Mabry Campus, Tampa
Since the 1980s, I have periodically created installations related to the environment. Shortly after arriving in Florida, in the early 2000s, I discovered Juniper Springs en route from Ocala to Florida’s East Coast. On several occasions since then I have swum in its icy waters, camped in its thickets and been visited by raccoons in search of food. Over the past several months I have been saddened by reports that the springs of Florida, over 900 of them including Juniper Springs, are threatened by pollution.
For this work I incorporated elements from two previous installations, Suttee, Moths, and the Bomb: a Trinity, and Modern Interior. I describe both of these installations in a blog post titled Environmental Art Projects, 1980 to 2011. I titled this installation Sanctuary because I have fond memories of spending many girlhood hours exploring the wooded bird sanctuary near my home in South Africa. As for many artists, nature has been a sanctuary and an inspiration to me for as long as I can remember.
In the United States, visual artists, writers and composers, from Georgia O’Keefe to Henry David Thoreau to Aaron Copland, have for generations found inspiration and solace in nature; and individuals from all social strata have sought sanctuary from the daily grind in this country’s beautiful national parks.
In my version of a contemporary “sanctuary,” there was river sand on the floor (representing the sand of all of Florida’s springs) and viewers left their footprints in the sand: we are all implicated in the demise of Mother Nature, including the problems facing our state’s aquatic treasures, once pristine sanctuaries, now becoming overgrown with suffocating algae and sullied by pollutants. Viewers were invited to share their thoughts and concerns about Florida’s springs, below are some of their comments.
Wonderful exhibit! We loved the whole experience and each individual piece.
This space comes alive with the sounds, visuals and kinetic movement of the mobiles. Each mobile is so interesting to look at. Loved the work on plexiglass too. Your message came through loud and clear and we went away inspired to do our own pieces. — Raquel L. Fruchter and Joseph McCann
My favorite part was…the sand, and how your own footprint contributes to the piece, just like it does to the environment, whether you like it or not. Thank you for sharing your perspective and concern for the springs… Floridians are very fortunate to have them.— Emily Turrage
No matter where I look…I am engaged…such a beautiful installation. — Mirta
…my favorite painting is the darkest one [“Then Darkness Came as Dream…”] because the white streaks look like constellations in a deep, dark pool of tragic pollution… it’s sad to see so much of the world polluted…
For the sake of our children…we have an obligation to treasure and take care of the earth.
— Provi Hernandez
The work [“Like Water…”] reflects nature. It may go even deeper to express how people impact nature. I get a sense of rising sea levels as we destroy the environment. — Thomas B.
…I love the texture, color, design, all of it! Simply breathtaking experience. The paintings remind me of serenity in the night sky. The hanging sculptures bring visions of forest life…the sculpture with the sand is amazing! — Trishia Graham
I enjoyed the combination of organic materials and the industrial installation. The weathered, rusty metal captures the essence of pollution building over time… the sand underneath the sculpture evokes the banks and bottom of the springs; the paintings give a perfect impression of being under water, and the audio of water accentuates the entire experience.
The moths and mylar pieces added an extra airy dimension that made me feel like I was floating. Thank you for sharing your Sanctuary with us! — Rosalyn Scally