Art and Ecology

Art Reception

Art and Ecology

Three Views on the Natural

Sunday, Aug 29, 2010 , 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Institute of Noetic Sciences
101 San Antonio Rd
Petaluma CA 94952
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Works by Cindy Cleary, Miriam Fagan and Judi Pettite

Exhibit: August 18–October 31
Artists' Reception: Sunday, August 29, 3–5 pm 


Cindy Cleary uses natural materials in her art making; pursuing natural ways of working connects her to the many traditions, past and present that have looked to nature for guidance and inspiration in understanding their place in the world. Her resources often come from the abundance that surrounds her in Sonoma County. Her work is a balance between her intentions and the integrity of the materials. She is drawn to our relationship with the ephemeral, the transitory, the natural circle of birth, death and regeneration, and the transformative power of disintegration.Working with foraged materials, and with the spirit and energy held in the elemental forces of nature, she collaborates with Sonoma County artist Pam Bolton to create site-specific sculpture and interactive installations in a variety of venues around themes of ritual, prayer, healing and community, often providing a container to build communal space through individual thoughtful acts. They founded Free Fruit/Fruta Gratis, a public art project that speaks about issues of art, beauty, food, land use and the environment.All of her work is guided by her belief in art and life as an everyday co-creative process.

Judi Pettite

My interest in plant pigments began years ago, when I was an undergraduate art major enrolled in a natural-dye course. My previous encounters with dye had involved a washing machine and a box of RIT. But here, enamel pots were filled with red cabbage leaves and onion skins. Green leaves of indigo produced surprising blues. I was connected to an ancient process that felt magical, and alchemical.

Later, when I had become a more experienced artist, and more committed environmentalist, I began thinking deeply about the materials I used, and painting in acrylic—in plastic—disturbed me. Recalling the encounter with natural dyes ignited my imagination and suggested a way that I might satisfy my desire for integrity regarding the media I chose.

Since then, making my own paint and learning how to use it effectively has been a large part of my work. It is sometimes a mysterious process; a pigment derived from the same type of plant can shift colors from year to year, in much the same way that wine from the same vineyard varies depending on vintage. My experiments involve many questions. How do pigments differ from plant type to plant type? What about earth pigments? Insect pigments? How can binders alter or enhance the hues? Is it possible to produce lasting, satisfying colors from these natural methods?

My new series of work combines the practice of paint-making with images of pollinators, honeycombs, and strawberries. The subject matter reflects my concern about issues such as colony collapse disorder, pesticide use, and the well being of insects and mammals that pollinate our food. The seductive, sensual place where such plants and creatures live surrounds us now,—and exists in memory and imagination. It is my hope that the work alludes to this fertile yet fragile place of our common history and dreams, and that in some small way enables it to continue on as a part of our and present-day, real world.

Judi Pettite lives and works in a former macaroni factory in urban southeast Oakland, where she keeps a garden and grows dye plants alongside her organic vegetables. Her studio is part science lab—part artist wonderland where she draws, paints and makes the occasional object.

Ms. Pettite teaches Bay Area workshops on the acquisition, efficacy, and use of plant, earth, and insect pigments. She is also an art instructor at Berkeley City College, and Los Medanos College in Pittsburgh, California.

Her artwork is shown locally and abroad and was recently featured in an international publication on self-portraits.

She holds an MA in art from Cal State Fullerton, a California Teaching Credential from Cal State Long Beach and an MFA in Arts and Consciousness from John F. Kennedy University, Pleasant Hill, CA.

Miriam Fagan:

For me, creating art is an act of moving inward, of passing through boundaries towards stillness and quiet. Engaged in this process, I find myself much more aware of the world around me- the sounds, colors and collages of interactions that, fleeting as they are, seem to hold an ephemeral weight of their own being. I feel drawn to express that which is revealed while exploring these moments.I find inspiration walking through the woods, surrounded by the trees, earth, sky, flowers and animals. In these meditations, the natural world reveals itself in seemingly infinite layers. The light changes, breeze shifts and a line of trees appears in the distance. As an artist, I hope that my process will too reveal to me the layers of my own self- that which exists in the stillness of my own being.
When creating with natural materials I feel a strong connection to the earth, it’s abundance and generosity. I am drawn to the technique of Kozo papermaking and see within this process a metaphor for transformation. The alchemical process of first breaking apart the fibers, just to make them “whole” again through their interaction with water is intriguing. Each new sheet of paper is a record of their creation and I wonder to myself, how am I a record of my own thoughts and actions? Where are the possibilities for transformation?

art opening, lucid art
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