Green Thumb (Food Series)
Curator: Jane Edmundson
Opening the Food series, this exhibition from the U of L collection will include a selection of paintings, drawings and sculptures depicting vegetation both wild and tamed. Artists: Raoul Dufy, Gathie Falk, Gershon Iskowitz, Tony Urquhart and others.
The artworks selected from the University of Lethbridge Art Collection for Green Thumb depict the initial stages of verdure, where seeds germinate, leaves unfurl, and vegetation grows both wild and tamed. While some of the included works illustrate fruits and vegetables familiar to most diets (McNicoll’s ‘Apple Time’ and Falk and Cicansky’s cabbages), most examine the colour, shape and texture of foliage, flowers and branches. Though we consume only a select portion of the crops produced by our environment, the organisms and animals that are nourished by all varieties of natural growth are crucial to the sustainability of our ecosystem and our longevity as a species. Perhaps the emotional connection many of us feel with time spent puttering in our gardens comes from the innate knowledge that plants produce our oxygen; greenery is synonymous with life. The repetitive processes necessary to foster and perpetuate green growth allow the gardener to work in a meditative state, temporarily removed from the steel and concrete of urban living.
Though these romanticized visions of human-nature interaction inspire beautiful artworks, the connection between vegetation and capitalist enterprise should not be downplayed when examining the social, cultural, and political issues that shape the contemporary food production system. Baxter&’s multimedia installation, CO2 Landscape – Homage to Chico Mendes, employs the story of an Amazonian rubber tapper turned environmentalist who was assassinated by ranching entrepreneurs to illustrate the conflict between sustainable harvesting practices and corporate land exploitation. The proliferation of recent scholarly studies, media articles and films focusing on the environmental and medical ramifications of our mechanized, factory-based food production and distribution system demonstrate the need to question the quality and practicality of the “natural” things we consume.
Green Thumb is the first in a series of exhibitions presented by the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery running from June to December 2011 that will explore social and cultural issues related to food production, supply and consumption. The Food series will also include a public-site project, a publication and cross-disciplinary research and performance projects across the UofL campus. Green Thumb continues in the Helen Christou Gallery from July 29 – September 8, 2011.