Mass Cultural Council and the New Art Center (NAC) will present the 2016 Mass Cultural Council Artist Fellows in Painting, Choreography, Drawing & Printmaking, and Traditional Arts on September 16-October 15, 2016, at the NAC.
Erica Daborn, one of the exhibiting artists, shares how her installations envision a tragic history that’s yet to happen.
I have been working for six years on this project, Dialogues With Mother Earth: A Journey Through Time and Space. I consider the project to be a response to accelerating and irrefutable evidence of climate change. My goal is to provoke a reflection on the relationship between our 21st century societal values and the ways in which they have contributed to the degradation of our environment. The series of mural-sized narrative drawings in charcoal record fictitious historical events related to climate change as seen from the year 2051.
I am using an immersive form of installation to direct the audience’s response to these issues through a comparison of ancient and modern information technologies.
Through this combination of theatre and visual art rather than scientific information I’m challenging viewers to examine the deeper causes of climate change. The installation engages them both intellectually and experientially, by first jettisoning them into a fast-paced technologically dominant environment (THE FUTURE), then forcing a slow crawl back into a quiet, cave-like space (THE PAST).
The FUTURE – a sensory overload Media Room – reduces the ability to think or respond intelligently due to a profusion of images and overlapping, loud voices, a case of Too Much Information. The PAST – these are the murals – provides physical engagement with the environment through restricted movement and limited light source, while simultaneously offering primitive static images that play on intuition and history. Finally. a resting place in a pleasant low light quiet room, the silence only broken by occasional animal and bird cries (THE PRESENT), provides viewers with an opportunity to offer their own thoughts provoked by the experience in the form of letters to “Mother Earth.”
In the drawings I explore, in a non-alarmist, story-book manner, those aspects of contemporary living that have impacted the environment including consumerism, depletion of natural resources, the ravages of the meat industry, disposable plastics, genetic modification etc. Because the completed project will be experiential (as opposed to an Al Gore-style lecture) I intend it to reach beyond the already-converted to a broader audience including one that has been resistant to the subject. I’m also offering this project as a teaching tool for schools and colleges. I want to encourage people who have not thought much about theses issues to recognize, to take action and to prepare for the global crisis that is already here.
All images courtesy of Erica Daborn. From top to bottom: Funeral for the Last Elephant Charcoal on canvas 70 x 154″; Seeking Higher Ground Charcoal on Canvas 70 x 172″; The Murder of Mystery Charcoal on Canvas 70 x 178″; Ahab’s Revenge: Charcoal on canvas 70 x 203″; S.O.S. (Save Our Seeds) Charcoal on canvas 70 x 164″; Oprah and Noah Save the Animals Charcoal on canvas 70 x 159″