High Trash

February 12 - May 19, 2013
East Gallery

The earth's environment is undergoing massive man-made and natural changes. Climate shifts, mass extinctions, clean water shortages, the threat of peak oil, extreme weather -- all are familiar issues in the 21st century. These issues, and their implications, are inspiring a growing number of visual artists who not only address them in their work, but also use cast-off materials, trash, and the detritus of our culture as their medium. While neither the subject nor the use of found materials is new, this exhibition looks at a new generation of artists, across the US and beyond, that feels an increasing urgency to address issues of environmental degradation and sustainability. Included in the exhibition are Chakaia Booker, Nancy Dwyer, Tim Hawkinson, Dan Colen, Bright Eke, Tom Deininger, Max Liboiron, Vik Muniz, and Sayaka Ganz, among others. The artists create visually compelling works that transcend their original source material and speak to the wider concerns of waste, ecology, and humans' place on this planet.

Among the works on view are Nigerian artist Bright Eke's grand curtain in the Fleming's Marble Court, created from cast-off plastic bottles, which highlights the January 2013 launch of UVM's student-driven ban on the sale of bottled water across campus. Created for this exhibition is New York artist Max Liboiron's newest installation in her series Rubbish Topographies, in which she creates a miniature landscape built of trash, inviting visitors to participate in the evolution of the landscape during the course of the exhibition. Tom Deininger's large, dramatic landscape painting, on close inspection, is constructed entirely of small, plastic items that he has collected.

Partnerships with UVM's Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources and students in disciplines across campus, as well as the Chittenden Solid Waste District, will offer both UVM students and local high school students the opportunity to explore how the creative arts can model innovative thinking, risk-taking, and invention in an area that affects our future.

The organization of this exhibition and its programming has been generously supported by the Kalkin Family Exhibitions Endowment Fund, David Beitzel '80 and Darren Walker, and the Walter Cerf Exhibitions Fund. We are grateful to them, and to our programming partners: Chittenden Solid Waste District, and the University of Vermont's GreenHouse Residential Learning Community and Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.