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Inside Lamont Gallery’s latest exhibit: [E]mission[s]: Critical

Contemporary artists raise awareness of environmental issues in paint, mixed media, sculpture and photography.

By
Jennifer Wagner
April 2, 2019
Work by Evan Anderman '83 (from left), Lucinda Bliss, Jim Sardonis '69 and Tom Hall is on exhibit through May 18.

Work by Evan Anderman '83 (from left), Lucinda Bliss, Jim Sardonis '69 and Tom Hall is on exhibit through May 18.

Whether it’s a photograph of a cattle feed lot taken from 30,000 feet, a painting of clear-cut forests, or a larger-than-life bronze sculpture of a fiddlehead fern — the artwork on display in Lamont Gallery’s latest exhibition showcases beauty with a message.

“This is an environmentally themed exhibition with a climate change agenda,” says Lamont Gallery interim director Wes LaFountain. “I hope it’s a motivational and inspirational experience and a satisfying visual experience as well.”

[E]mission[s]: Critical features the work of four artists — including alumni Jim Sardonis ’69 and Evan Anderman ’83 —  who use paint, mixed media, sculpture and photography to explore our understanding of the relationship between humans and the natural world.

Sardonis, who began his study and practice of sculpture as a student at Exeter under the tutelage of art instructor Cabot Lyford, is well-known for his large, public works in stone and bronze. Exeter is home to his Simple Gifts, two dove-like birds perched atop polished pillars outside of Phelps Science Center. Other commissions include the marble Great Auks in the New England Aquarium in Boston and the giant whale tails visible from Interstate 89 near Burlington, Vermont. 

“I hope that by placing my sculptures in public settings,” says Sardonis, “their impact will help to raise awareness about the kinship and interconnectedness of all living things and the importance of environmental conservation.”

Anderman takes to the public airspace to offer gallery viewers a new perspective. From the cockpit of his Cessna 206, Anderman engages auto pilot, opens the window, and captures the grazing lands, farms and army bases of eastern Colorado where he lives. “While my main interest is the subtle beauty of the landscape itself, I also like to tease out what man has done with that land, and make the viewer wonder what is going on and why,” Anderman says.

“I call it sinister beauty. You want people look at it and think it’s beautiful, but then also question what they’re seeing and thinking about to maybe change their beliefs and the way they approach the world.”

The mixed media and installation work of Lucinda Bliss explores the relationship between escalating environmental degradation, human migration and an increasingly nationalistic view of borders. “We should all look in the mirror and ask what does it mean to be making art in this period where environmental degradation is an unbelievable threat,” Bliss says. “That is the social context of the moment.”

Tom Hall often begins his creative process with walks in the Maine woods, making sketches as he travels. Hall’s paintings of forests harvested for timber tell a bleak story of the human impact of industrial deforestation in the formerly pristine landscapes of the North country. “When the woods were cut,” Hall says, “the country changed.”

[E]mission[s]: Critical will be on view at the Lamont Gallery through May 18.