Highlighting Climate Change Through Art

October 2, 2019
By: Worcester State University News

The Mary Cosgrove Dolphin Gallery presents its first exhibit of the season, Crossroads: 4 Perspectives, featuring artists of the Elemental artist collaborative. The exhibit opens Thursday, Oct. 10, and runs through Thursday, Nov. 14.

Featured in the exhibit are Charyl Weissbach, Patricia Gerkin, Donna Hamil Talman, and Debra Claffey.

Using the medium encaustic, a hot wax mixed with pigment to create a 3D effect, the artists are dedicated to raising awareness of the need for environmental sustainability. Though the four artists share the same purpose of raising concern for the health of the planet, each artist has their own individual source of inspiration.

Debra Claffey’s work celebrates plants—their form and their ability to communicate with humans and other species. “My aim is to help my viewers appreciate plant life a bit more when they enjoy my work and in a hopeful and positive way,” said Claffey. She chose the medium of encaustic because it allows her to make numerous changes and works with her style of painting, which includes drawing, scratching, and incising marks into the surface of a painting, creating a layered effect.

Donna Hamil Talman finds inspiration in the effect humans have on the planet. In one of her projects, Talman collects trash from beaches and uses it in her images. “I hope viewers will be reminded not to dump drink bottles and take out cartons on beaches,” said Talman. She uses her images to convey the passage of time, similar to aged, slightly worn photographs. Encaustic allows her to create that effect with wax, as oil or acrylic don’t work in the same way.

Patricia Gerkin dedicates her “Life Cycles” series to a single fallen leaf and its details, from the edges to the webbing. “I hope that the viewer will recognize the impermanence of everything that exists and appreciate this moment we have of ineffable beauty and the need to preserve it,” said Gerkin.

Encaustic allows Gerkin to create a juxtaposition of raw, rough materials with fragile, refined materials.  “I hope that the viewers will appreciate the luminosity and versatility of the medium, encaustic, as it is not as well known as other mediums.”

“It [encaustic] is very malleable, it allows the artist a great deal of freedom to work in a realistic or abstract manner, with added objects and materials,” said Catherine Wilcox-Titus, director of the gallery. “I enjoy work that combines the best aesthetic sensibility along with a political engagement. Climate change is an emergency. It is here, right now.”

The exhibit’s opening reception takes place on Thursday, Oct. 10, 5-7 p.m., with free light refreshments and a talk from the artists beginning at 6 p.m. The free exhibit remains open to the public until Nov. 14, during regular gallery hours, Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday, 1- 5 p.m. The gallery is located in the Ghosh Science and Technology Center.

By Christina Cronin, VPA marketing and public relations intern.
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