SOME KIND OF NATURE
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
United States: 12pm PT, 1pm MT, 2pm CT, 3pm ET
EUROPE: Scotland/Ireland/England/Belgium/Germany/Portugal: 20:00 BST
Judith Selby Lang, Pamela Longobardi, Anne-Katrin Spiess, Toby Zallman
Plastic production is expected to triple by 2050. By then, our oceans will contain more weight in plastic than fish. In 2018 China refused to accept non-recyclable waste from other countries, and it’s currently cheaper for manufacturers to make virgin plastic than recycle. How can we solve this plastic dilemma when the real behavioral change needs to be with the manufacturers of plastics.
In this zoom event we will hear from four artists who have been making work about plastics since the start of the twenty-first century. Judith Selby Lang has been transforming the perils of plastic pollution into celebratory objects with her husband and collaborator Richard Lang since 1999. Pamela Longbardi who began her Drifters Project in 2006 while in Hawaii will discuss her upcoming book and museum show, Ocean Gleaning. Anne-Katrin Spiess began her research of disposable waste in 2000 while in Utah working on site-based projects and has recently dedicated her focus on plastics via performative work including a funeral procession titled Death By Plastic. Toby Zallman has dedicated her practice to the research and representation of plastics as aesthetic objects since 2004 and is currently making columns for a series titled Complicit, assembled from her personal plastic waste. Each artist will share their inspiration and understanding of the plastic dilemma through environmental actions and art making practices. Erica Cirino, guest speaker and respondent, will wrap it up with a presentation from her new book Thicker Than Water.
Guest Speaker and Respondent
Erica Cirino, science writer, artist and author of Thicker Than Water: The quest for Solutions to the Plastics Crisis (published by Island Press, in October 2021). Cirino documents plastic across ecosystems and elements; shares stories from the primarily Black, brown, Indigenous and rural communities that are disproportionately harmed by industrial pollution globally; and uncovers strategies that work to prevent plastic from causing further devastation to our planet and its inhabitants. ericacirino.com
Judith Selby Lang is committed to the creation of positive symbols and life-affirming images to energize the conversation about the effects of plastic pollution. Intrigued with the unbearable beauty that might be discovered in a snarl of fishing nets or a mess of plastic found on the beach, she is deconstructing the damaging debris where she finds treasures that she presents as objects of contemplation. While the content of her work has a message about the spoiling of the natural world by the human/industrial world, her intent is to transform this sea of troubles into something celebratory. Her ephemeral public art works have graced the San Francisco Civic Center Plaza, Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve, and Stanley Harbor, Hong Kong. Her artwork has been featured in exhibitions in galleries and museums; educational and science centers including SFMOMA's Artist Windows, California Academy of Sciences, Sausalito's Marine Mammal Center, The Oakland Museum. She lives in West Marin with Richard Lang, her husband/collaborator. beachplastic.com
Pam Longobardi’s parents, an ocean lifeguard and the Delaware state diving champion, connected her from an early age to water life. After discovering mountains of plastic on remote Hawaiian shores in 2006, she founded the Drifters Project, centralizing the artist as culture worker/activist/researcher. Now a global collaborative entity, Drifters Project has removed tens of thousands of pounds of material from the natural environment and re-situated it as communicative social sculpture. Her multidisciplinary studio-based and social practice ranges from paintings and collage to photography, large-scale sculpture, installation, public actions and performance. Winner of the prestigious Hudgens Prize, Longobardi has been featured in National Geographic, SIERRA magazine, the Weather Channel, multiple films and in exhibitions around the world. As Oceanic Society’s Artist-In-Nature, she co-leads expeditions to remote and beautiful places, working with participant communities in addressing plastic and its environmental impact. Currently living in Atlanta, she is Regents’ Professor and Distinguished Professor at Georgia State University. driftersproject.net
Anne-Katrin Spiess is a land artist whose primary focus is the ecology of our planet. Although she is based in New York City, much of her work is created in the deserts of the American West. This dichotomy fuels her imagination, with both places providing endless and disparate stimuli. In 2019, shocked by the state of plastics recycling in the US and globally, Spiess conducted her first Death By Plastic performance in Moab, UT, followed by a performance in Venice, Italy. In July this year, she performed Death By Plastic Funeral Procession along Fifth Avenue in NYC. Spiess organized her first projects addressing trash and recycling with Desert Highway Cleansing in Utah in 2000. And, in 2001, she performed A Walk On The Beach, a trash collection project for an exhibition on Staten Island, commemorating the closing of Fresh Kills Landfill, the largest landfill on the planet at the time. annekatrin.info
Toby Zallman is a Chicago artist whose art practice focuses on sculpture and drawing. In 2004, after becoming aware of how damaging our plastic and e-waste is to the environment, she changed her materials to both incorporate recycled/re-purposed materials in her sculpture as well as a source of visual inspiration for both the sculptures and drawings. She has used computer detritus, plastic bags, plastic bottles and solid plastic trash to create unique art works that shed light on the environmental devastation cause by our culture of consumerism. Zallman shows both locally and nationally. She was the recipient of several Illinois Arts Council grants, including one in 2021 for her exhibition “Our Plastic Trash,” and an Individual Artist Program Grant, City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). She has had artist residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo and Ragdale. tobyzallman.com
Images: ©Pam Longobardi, Swerve, 2019; ©Judith Selby-Lang, Swag, 2021; ©Anne-Katrin Spiess, Death By Plastic, 2019; ©Toby Zallman, Plastic Bags in Water 5, 2018.