On August 22nd, the Community Arts Council of Vancouver hosted its first public presentation and consultation on making art from beach debris. This discussion-oriented Eco-Arts Salon was one of a series of such meetings that will occur over the next couple years, in order to conceptualize, organize, build and enjoy an art piece made from materials collected on the shores of Vancouver. The project was dreamt up by CACV’s board liaison for environmental arts, Pierre Leichner and his fellow Habit-Art Collective members, but is meant to be inspired by, created by, and made for community members.
Pierre, an eco-artist himself and our resident earth art expert, opened the meeting by asking very generally, why we create eco-art, and what eco-art is. He explained that if eco-art is in a sense the creation of art from found materials, i.e. recycling, we can trace its origins to the beginning of the twentieth century, when Duchamp displayed a urinal as art (1917), and Picasso glued a printed image of chair caning onto his painting titled Still Life with Chair Caning (1912). He suggested, however, that our desire to collect and examine objects from our surroundings is innate, and pointed out that humans are not the only animal to make beautiful compositions from the materials that are most accessible to them. As humans produce more and more garbage, artists are more and more likely to create treasure out of that trash.
The subsequent discussion about ideas for the beach debris art project turned up more questions than answers. Will the artwork be functional? Where should it be installed? Does it have to be stationary? How long should it last? Should it be taken down or naturally disintegrate? In what capacity should the public be involved? What are the safety-issues regarding the use of debris in art? Should the artwork benefit the environment, educate the public or just be beautiful?
Join us on September 15th for the Kits Beach Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, and on September 26th for an Eco-Arts Salon in which Pierre further elucidates the field of Earth Art and we continue our discussion thereof. I also highly recommend checking out Pierre’s current exhibition at Gallery Gachet, and the Habit-Art Collective’s Eryne Donahue’s work at the Surrey Art Gallery.
Author: Bryndis Hafthorsdottir