JAC artists turn mundane into sustainable art in new exhibition | Arts and life – cialisdfr
JAC artists turn mundane into sustainable art in new exhibition |  Arts and life
JAC artists turn mundane into sustainable art in new exhibition |  Arts and life

JAMESTOWN, RI — Nestled in the Jamestown Art Center (JAC), a group of 27 artists is set to challenge perceptions and inspire dialogue about sustainability through the lens of art.

“Second Time Around,” curated by Dr. Erin L. McCutcheon, Assistant Professor of American Art at the University of Rhode Island (URI) and her Art History students, showcases contemporary works that give new life to objects from the past and narratives emphasizing sustainability.

Inspired by the tradition of clearing out closets, the exhibition connects the reuse of personal artifacts with a broader environmental meaning, highlighting a commitment to a sustainable future. “It’s about sharing our resources instead of contributing to more waste,” McCutcheon said.

The genesis of the exhibition lies in a museum studies course at URI taught by McCutcheon last fall. Far from being a mere academic exercise, the course aimed to immerse students in the ins and outs of curating, collecting and presenting art to an audience.

“This collaborative exhibition offered students like me an invaluable professional development experience,” said Taylor Moss, a URI student and JAC intern. “Being able to see this project come to fruition is nothing short of exciting.”

The theme grew out of the students’ shared concern about climate change and their fascination with the history and complexity of art making and art history. “It’s about these ongoing conversations about the importance of this issue,” McCutcheon said.

Entries were selected and then judged by Ella S. Mills, Ph.D., of the University of Plymouth, United Kingdom, and speaking on the corners. McCutcheon explains: “The show offers a fluid narrative of the ways in which contemporary artists use past stories, memories, objects, materials, images and artistic processes to respond to the present and imagine new possibilities for the future.”

These young curators, all in their 20s and specializing in art history and studio art, seek to explore how contemporary art can respond to the pressing need for sustainable practices and engage with the multi-layered histories of materials and objects.

Artist Amy Uzdin’s woven sculptures, for example, breathe new life into discarded fishing nets, turning them into symbols of enduring vitality.

In the exhibit text, URI student Luke Abenante writes, “Her practice of salvaging discarded and obsolete materials is connected to her experience caring for her elderly parents… By suggesting the continued vitality of these trade materials so ubiquitous in our waterways, Usdin it encourages us to think more consciously about the concept of utility in our world.

Similarly, artist Kay Johnson de Mesquita’s quilt, made from her father’s ties, weaves personal memory and material reuse into a poignant narrative of continuity and change.

Diversity in artistic expression is a cornerstone. The exhibition aims to offer a wide range of media, from textile art to photography and sculpture. “We tried to balance having different types of presentations, different types of materials that are on display, while really touching on different subject areas,” McCutcheon said.

Photographers Eric Zeigle and Aaron Ellison revisit and capture the landscape of the American West using the historic technique of glass-plate photography, a method not often used in contemporary studies of these spaces.

“Practice itself is sustainability; glass plates can be recycled. Using old cameras gave me a new reason to use this older piece of equipment,” said Seigel, “Choosing to use collodion glass plate brings back the textural and color rendering qualities of the film even more. The emulsion on the glass plate is sensitive to UV light, so it really changes the way the landscape looks because the trees look very dark.

The theme of sustainability extends beyond the artworks themselves, weaving into the fabric of the exhibition’s programming. While the specifics are still being discussed, the goal is clear: to engage the community in practical sustainability practices. From repair workshops to Family Day events featuring collaborative artwork creation with artists, Second Time Around seeks to inspire actionable change, making sustainability an accessible goal for all.

“I hope it opens up these avenues where we can think about how sustainability is part of all these different kinds of conversations that artworks start that hopefully contribute to that kind of broader conversation, but don’t have an end date,” McCutcheon said.

“Second Time Around” can be seen during regular gallery hours (Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 3pm) from today until June 15th. A free opening reception will be held tomorrow from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. A JAC talk with panelist Dr. Ella Mills will be held on Thursday, April 11, at 6 p.m.

Jamestown Art Center is located at 18 Valley St., Jamestown, RI. The gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit: jamestownartcenter.org.

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