In January, Kehler Liddell was the first gallery in the state to present an exhibit of protest art stemming from the inauguration of the current president. That show focused on a myriad of human-rights and philosophical concerns.
The New Haven art space is doing it again, this time zeroing in on one topic: the environmental devastation of global warming.
“We have deemed ourselves gods of this planet, deciding to abuse and ravage our home, rather than cherish her many gifts,” Elizabeth Antle-O’Donnell, one of the artists in the show, said in an artist statement.
Antle-O’Donnell contributed a piece made of an accumulation of bark shed by sycamore trees. The pieces overlap each other, none of them adhering entirely to the canvas, illustrating humanity’s inability to control the natural environment.
Gar Waterman used onyx and marble to create sculptures of sea slugs to point out the dangers of ocean acidification. “They’re canaries in a coal mine. Like so many reef dwellers, these are entirely dependent on the health of the reef,” Waterman said. “When the reef dies, they die.”
The plight of the oceans also is approached by Marsha Borden, whose hanging sculpture of a seascape is made of blue plastic bags.
Zoe Matthiessen takes a humorous approach. Her watercolor depicts a chicken with a trail mix bag stuck on its head, a depiction of “good intentions that have fallen short,” she said. Those good intentions are spelled out on the snack bag — organic, vegan, gluten free, all natural — but those attributes don’t stop the bag from trapping and blinding the chicken.
Frank Bruckmann painted an earth melting into the darkness, North America front and center, as if to blame the United States for this disaster. Amy Browning’s abstracted “Cooling Ice” and “Warming Fire” suggests the temperature extremes that lie in the future.
David Chorney’s “Loss of Innocence” painting juxtaposes a pastel-colored village being encroached upon by nearby industrial smokestacks spewing black clouds of air pollution.
Some of the approaches are representational, some abstract and some even surreal. Brian Flinn shows a fanciful bird in a cage that’s too tight to hold it. Joe Fekieta’s mysterious three-part oil-crayon drawings show ghostly human hands tearing apart a bird and unleashing a gushing of vicious snakes, dogs in cages, reaching out for help, a forest of chopped-down trees.