ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT is a traveling museum exhibition produced by David J. Wagner, L.L.C., the purpose of which is
- to recognize, document, and share the work of leading contemporary artists who chose to focus their work on global as well as local environmental issues;
- to heighten public awareness and concern about the intentional or unintentional consequences of human action or inaction, through the power of this art.
Traditional art generally depicts nature in all of its glory, often in beautiful, pristine conditions. The 75 paintings, photographs, prints, installations, and sculptures in ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT are different than traditional works of art because they deal with numerous, ominous environmental issues ranging from the implications of resource development and industrial scale consumption, to major oil spills, the perils of nuclear energy, drought and diminishing water resources, global warming, and many other modern phenomenon that impact people and the other inhabitants which populate the planet today. To produce ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT, Curator David Wagner draws upon a diverse range of artists whose works are not only hard-hitting, but which also propel the Environmental Movement in the age we live in.
To create and compose ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT, Curator/Tour Director, Dr. David J. Wagner drew upon connections with legendary artists such as Canadian painter, Robert Bateman, Swedish born sculptor, Kent Ullberg, and American artist and poet, Leo Osborne, whose work collectively shaped and fulfilled the Environmental Movement. The exhibition consequently features iconic works such as Requiem for Prince William Sound, Ullberg’s elegy to victims of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, the worst man-made ecological disaster of its time; and Still Not Listening, a poem and sculpture of the same title by Osborne which expressed his outrage and frustration.
While the Exxon Valdez spill was a single event, it was symptomatic of larger issues and challenges confronting the planet’s plants, animals, and habitat in 1989. To address threats to marine life and old growth forests posed by commercial fishing and logging conducted globally on an unprecedented scale, painter Robert Bateman dedicated an entire series to environmentalism beginning in 1989 with Mossy Branches —Spotted Owl, a potent symbol in the Pacific Northwest where the cornerstone of economic life—logging—was not only effected by but actually impinged upon the bird’s status under the Endangered Species Act. At the time, environmental organizations such as Earth Watch and the Sierra Club estimated that old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest had been so drastically depleted, that only five percent of the region’s virgin forest remained. At the cutting rate that prevailed at the time—170 acres a day—these groups also estimated that all old-growth trees would be depleted within several decades. Taking advantage of the opportunity that his success afforded him, Bateman pushed the limits of environmental art even further by creating a controversial painting that contrasted old-growth and clear-cut forest imagery in a new style altogether. The first in what Bateman called his “environmental series,” Carmanah Contrasts grew out of a collective effort by artists who gathered on Vancouver Island in British Columbia in 1989 to document the clear cutting of Carmanah Forest, an old-growth area. They agreed to collectively publish their work and create awareness and resistance. Bateman continued his “environmental” foray with other brave and powerful paintings, notably, in 1993, with Self-portrait with Big Machine and Ancient Sitka , and Driftnet (Pacific White-sided Dolphin & Lysan Albatross), a painting featured in ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT that exposes the grim realities of commercial fishing. For maximum impact, Bateman overlaid the painting with actual non-biodegradable commercial fishing netting, net that could cut, entangle and kill unintended victims with ease.
In addition to signature works by artists described above, ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT features hard-hitting works by other established painters, photographers, and sculptors, as well as emerging artists. To ensure broad representation and the highest possible quality of artistry, Wagner issued a call for entries through organizations which he serves or has served as Curator and Tour Director, such as the Susan K. Black Foundation (Blossom ~ Art of Flowers), and the Society of Animal Artists (Art and the Animal), an international organization with headquarters in New York.
To ensure a balanced exhibition, Wagner reached beyond his connections with artists and organizations such as these, to diversify subjects, media, styles, techniques, his range of geography. Thus ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT also contains powerful photos by a number of noteworthy photographers. It contains thoughtfully provocative paintings by Chester Arnold, an apocalyptic panorama by Chris Doyle, an imperiled nuclear power plant by Israel artist Walter Ferguson, Scott Greene’s surreal satellite dish landscapes, and a stunning global warming installation by Japanese sculptor Sayaka Ganz. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT doesn’t stop there. Far from it. The exhibition also comprises cutting edge works by a range of artists who have dedicated their considerable talents and passions to addressing a plethora of other environmental issues ranging from the loss of bee populations, to the impact of genetic engineering on corn, and urban obstacles and threats confronting wildlife, to name a few.
Joining others in a long list of traveling exhibitions produced by David J. Wagner, L.L.C. (davidjwagnerllc.com), ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT may well be the single most powerful according to its Curator and Tour Director, David J. Wagner, whose classic American Wildlife Art, serves as the standard reference book on the topic.