July 29 – September 8, 2011 | Helen Christou Gallery

Green Thumb (Food Series)

Helen Christou Gallery
July 29 – September 8, 2011
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.

Curatorial Statement

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. These works examine the colour, shape and texture of foliage, flowers and branches in a variety of media. 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 our use of natural resources. Both Lucius O’Brien and Kathleen Daly’s historical depictions of human-powered logging practices stand in contrast to the contemporary reliance on mechanized deforestation to meet commercial demands. The proliferation of recent scholarly studies, media articles and films focusing on the environmental and medical ramifications of our 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 UofL Main Gallery from July 29 – September 8, 2011.

Jane Edmundson

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