Environmentally-conscious art exhibit on display in Fort Lauderdale

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – For almost two years now, the Local 10 News Don’t Trash Our Treasure mission has highlighted all the problems our environment is grappling with and how we can all be part of the change to make things better.

A new exhibition in Fort Lauderdale is highlighting a group of local artists who use planet friendly techniques to create engaging new work, inspiring all of us to take a closer look at the footprints we leave behind.

“We’re not going to be able to just continue to pull, pull, pull from the planet, so that’s why I just tried to use as many things that already exist as possible,” said artist and art teacher Scott Hemeon.

Saving our planet is the resounding message on full display at Fort Lauderdale’s ArtServe. The museum and incubator space’s new exhibition: Interventions for Environmental Resilience, provokes the observer to become more sustainable.

“The concept of the show is what can our artists do for upcycling art, reusing materials that they found in the environment,” said ArtServe executive director Jason Hughes.

Fifteen South Florida artists were carefully selected. The theme of the show is not just reflected in their work, but also in their creative process.

“These artists are trying to work against over consumption, so they’re using things and recycling and upcycling things to create something better,” said Tayina Deraville, director of Arts, Administration and Community Engagement for FATVillage that co-produced the show.

Added Hemeon: “I’m reusing canvases, I’m taking old brushes that would have normally been thrown away and gluing them into my canvas. It’s just kind of the way I’ve always been.”

Upcycling and repurposing are part of Hemeon’s creative DNA. The artist and art teacher repaints over his students used canvases, scraping off old work to make something new.

“This was part of a student project that I did last year where I had the kids cutting out the circular pieces of paper,” he said referring to his new work “LLuvia Acida” currently on display at Art Serve.

The show underscores the urgency of daily global headlines warning all of us about all the challenges our planet is facing, such as our oceans drowning in plastic pollution, record high temperatures and rapidly rising sea levels.

Artist William Bock incorporates fossils and minerals, a discarded type set drawer, even a cow skull to sound the alarm on the urgent need for all of us to reduce our greenhouse emissions before it’s too late.

“Yes, it’s natural that the oceans and the Earth’s topography has changed,” he said. “Why would we do anything that accelerates that?”

For scientist turned emerging artist Sara Schesser Bartra, it is a chance to use art to engage an audience who might not be conscious to the role we all play in restoring balance to our natural world.

“As a citizen, we have responsibility, but I feel like an as an artist, the responsibility is even higher,” Bartra said. “And if we are not doing that, who is going to do right?”

It is art that begs you to notice it. Take a closer and see what’s really there.

Silvana Arbak uses discarded food boxes that she cuts and snips to create something beautiful.

“I was using a lot of environmental resources, so I felt the need to upcycle paper,” Arbak said. “I call this piece From Tree To Tree, because paper comes from trees, and I wanted to do something with nature to create awareness of the things that we trash and we can convert into art.”

Said Hughes: “This truly is amazing, because the diversity of it, I think is what’s so amazing…The mind of the artist to create that, that’s something that only artists can do.”

Added Bock: “If we approach people visually, by letting them respond to stimulus, then they’re going to have a reaction to it that might be more visceral than us telling them how they should think.”

The work challenges the observer to step up and do better, because the fate of the planet depends it.

“I hope I can inspire other artists to do something like that to utilize what we already trash and turn it into art as a statement,” said Arbak.

This is what this show is challenging all of us to do: every day, be more conscious, make different choices with how we consume, and ask ourselves if we really need that plastic water bottle or that new shirt or what do we have that we can upcycle and reuse.

We all have to find a way to be less wasteful, our planet depends on it.

Art Interventions for Environmental Resilience is at ArtServe Fort Laudedale and runs through March 17.

For more information on the show, click here.

About the Author:

Louis Aguirre is an Emmy-award winning journalist who anchors weekday newscasts and serves as WPLG Local 10’s Environmental Advocate.