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Member Spotlight l Ann Rosenthal

Monday, February 26, 2024 8:27 AM | Anonymous


February 26, 2024

This week we recognize Ann Rosenthal and her projects which represent milestones in a 40-year career in activist, community-centered, and environmentally engaged art practice.

Infinity City, 1991-2002 (above) consisted of three installations including ANNIVERSARY, SHADOW, and 2001, exploring life in the atomic age and its legacy of nuclear waste. In 1991, Rosenthal's partner Stephen Moore took a job on the island of Guam, a U.S. island territory in Micronesia. While visiting him, they traveled to Tinian Island where the first atomic bombs were launched and dropped on Japan. This somber place and its ghosts spoke to them and compelled them to embark on a 10-year nuclear pilgrimage, taking Rosenthal and her partner to Japan and key historic nuclear sites in the western U.S. Over ten years, the project was exhibited in 12 venues across the U.S. An extensive website documented their travels, provided a chronology of humankind's relationship to the natural world (40,000 B.C. - 170,000 A.D.), and engaged communities impacted by Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

 click images for more info

River Vernacular, 2003-04 (above) was a collaboration with Rosenthal and Steffi Domike. Inspired by the Hudson River Museum’s historic postcard collection, each of eight oversized postcards interpreted the social and natural histories of Yonkers, NY in relation to the Saw Mill and Hudson Rivers. The artists soaked cotton cloth in the river adjacent to where each photograph was taken, mapping the health of the Saw Mill as it flows from its source, through Yonkers, and into the Hudson. This work was included in the exhibition Imaging the River, curated by Amy Lipton for the Hudson River Museum.

Moving Targets, 2013-15 (above) was an exhibition that marked the 2014 centenary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon, the most abundant bird in North America that was hunted to extinction within a period of 40 years. Moving Targets paralleled the plight of the passenger pigeon with the coerced migrations of Rosenthal's and Domike's mothers' families to North America in the wake of the pogroms in the Ukraine. While the ships, trains and telegraphs made it possible for millions of Jews to escape persecution, they also made possible the tracking and plunder of the passenger pigeon. The project linked both the artists’ families and the birds to ask why some groups——whether human or animal——are reduced to targets for extinction, whether intended or as a consequence of ignorance and greed. Works in the installation include collage, painting, maps and photos to tell the story of migration, loss, and survival. The project became part of a larger, citywide effort to commemorate the centenary, which included many cultural events and programs. Dr. Ruth Fauman-Fichman researched the artists’ family histories.

LUNA (Learning Urban Nature through Art), 2016-2023 (above) was an ecoliteracy and visual arts program initiated and directed by Ann Rosenthal. It was designed to foster an appreciation for urban nature through hands-on art making for children, youth, adults, and families. LUNA was an outgrowth of a partnership Rosenthal developed with the Steel Valley Trail Council (SVTC), to educate youth about their riverfronts and trails, resulting in hand-painted banners that went up along the SVT. In 2016, she launched LUNA and developed an after-school program with the Kingsley Association, based on the earlier SVTC program. LUNA continued as an on-demand program, partnering with environmental and community organizations.  In 2022, Rosenthal and collaborator JoAnn Moran were commissioned by the Bloomfield Development Corporation to design and execute two asphalt art murals, reflecting the natural features of the adjacent Friendship Park in Rosenthal’s neighborhood of Bloomfield in Pittsburgh, PA. Similar to prior LUNA programs, ecoliteracy was a centerpiece of the project, which included bird and tree walks to engage residents with the flora and fauna in their backyards. The community was invited to submit drawings that the artists incorporated into the final mural designs. Over 70 people of all ages helped paint the murals over two weekends.

The Disparaged Sublime: Salt Marsh Nova Scotia #2, 2022 (below) is a work which represents Rosenthal's recent return to her creative roots in painting and printmaking, celebrating her love of color, gesture, and form in nature and art. She is particularly drawn to places where water and land meet——fragile ecosystems that we endanger through ignorance, desire, and greed. Rosenthal strives to make such places visible and valued for their beauty, complexity, and evolutionary brilliance.

Ann Rosenthal  is an artist, educator, and writer, who has interrogated the intersections of nature and culture through a range of environmental issues for over four decades. Her recent creative and professional accomplishments include: Artist-in-Residence, HJ Andrews Experimental Forest, Oregon (2018); Co-Curator for “Crafting Conversations: A Call and Response to Our Changing Climate,” Contemporary Craft BNY Mellon Gallery (2019); awarded “Woman of Environmental Art” from PennFuture (2020); one of four editors for Ecoart in Action: Activities, Case Studies, and Provocations for Classrooms and Communities (New Village Press, 2022); selected to design and execute two asphalt art murals with collaborator JoAnn Moran for Friendship Park in Pittsburgh (2022-23). Rosenthal received her MFA from Carnegie Mellon University in 1999. She teaches classes and workshops through Osher Lifelong Learning/University of Pittsburgh and Winslow Art Center. locusartstudio.org

Featured images (top to bottom): ©Ann Rosenthal, 2001: PLUTONIUM, MARCH 28, 1941, collaboration with Stephen Moore comprised of digital posters marking nuclear anniversaries in 2001 and distributed via email; River Vernacular, 2003-04 (installation View), collaboration with Steffi Domike including digital prints, stained muslin, and acrylic paint; Moving Targets: An Exhibition of Extinction and Survival, 2013-15 (installation view), collaboration with Steffi Domike including mixed media on cradled wood panels, MDO map sections, wood panels range from 6 x 6 to 9 x 12 inches and maps maximum 48 inches in height; LUNA: Asphalt Art Murals, 2022-23, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; The Disparaged Sublime: Salt Marsh Nova Scotia #2, 2022, golden open acrylics on cradled wood panel, 8 x 10 inches; portrait of the artist by Michele McFadden.

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