Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Feb. 20, 1998

Art event explores the meaning of 'environment'

by Steve Sullivan

The meaning of "environment" and how it shapes our identities will be the focus of a multi-faceted arts event on campus, beginning next month.

"Expanding Environments: Transforming Metaphors of Identity," includes an art exhibition involving nine national artists at the Brunnier Art Museum. Events will include public forums, an outdoors art installation and a video project. The exhibit opens March 10 and runs through June 10.

"We're going to challenge people to consider different views of the environment and think about the way we choose to define environment and how our individual interpretations determine how we live and act," said Ingrid Lilligren, guest curator of the event and assistant professor of art and design.

The exhibit will focus on social, political and technological issues related to the the natural and built environment, including clean water, human and plant genetics, hunger, urban gardens and golf courses.

The Brunnier Art Museum exhibition consists of drawings, photographs, video and sculpture.

"This exhibition has a stellar lineup of artists," said Jack Becker, publisher and founder of Public Art Review. "I also am impressed with the diversity of approaches by these artists in regards to both built and natural landscapes. So often in exhibits like these, you are just looking at ecological issues and not dealing so much with the built environment, which is so much a part of our lives. This exhibit has a nice balance of the two."

Among the works are:

The other artists whose works will be featured in "Expanding Environments" are Wellington Reiter, Newton, Mass.; Richard Hansen, Penrose, Colo.; Betsy Damon, St. Paul, Minn.; Stephen Luoni, Gainesville, Fla.; Beliz Brother, Seattle, Wash.; and Mags Harries, Cambridge, Mass.

George Gessert of Eugene, Ore., has designed an outdoor installation for the Reiman Gardens. "Persephone" uses planted daffodils and metal signs to focus on the aesthetic and ethical considerations associated with DNA as an art medium.

All of the artists will participate in three forums that examine the "meanings of environment," said Lilligren. The public forums will be held from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in 290 Scheman on March 8, March 29 and April 12. ISU faculty members from a variety of disciplines, including art, engineering, agriculture and architecture, also will participate.

Another component of "Expanding Environments" is the development of a video catalog containing artist interviews, forum highlights and exhibition footage. The video will be available for ISU faculty to use in class discussions on environmental issues.

"Many times, shows like this stand alone and the artists are not there," said Becker. "It's an incredible opportunity to have these artists there for discussion and debate, and to give people the opportunity to meet them and for them to meet each other."

Several of the artists also will get a feel for Iowa's environment through tours of a hog confinement facility and organic farm.

"The artists were invited because of the way they move across cultures and span belief systems," Lilligren said. "I want to connect them with issues important to Iowans."

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