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  • Nature’s Toolbox: Biodiversity, Art and Invention

    Art can help build awareness. Indeed, nature and science are inextricably linked to art in the environmental realm. While science measures the health of the planet, art helps us visualize our complex relationship to the natural world. Art has a unique set of tools to represent our world: irony and allegory, metaphor and humor. Science provides facts while art tells stories.

    The need for environmental stories has never been greater. Earth is steadily crossing increasingly alarming thresholds of climate change and other environmental challenges. Biologists view human impact as the primary contributor to an emerging mass extinction. People are hungry for positive images of the future. Effectively told, stories can have a powerful impact in determining how our future unfolds.The stories at the heart of “Nature’s Toolbox” offer fresh perspectives, demonstrating that humanity itself is an essential piece of this system, and the salvation not just of nature, but ourselves.Earth is home to as many as 20 million species, but only a tiny fraction are known and scientifically classified. The interdependence among organisms and their environments sustains the conditions needed for survival by all living creatures: clean air and water, crop pollination, pest control, climate regulation, soil nutrients, and a diversity of plants and creatures, among other things. These are “nature’s services” that support us, every hour of every day, for “free.” The importance of biodiversity is often undervalued, as “free” things often are.The reality is that species are disappearing at an alarming rate, claiming individual genes and entire ecosystems—and, along with them, the blueprints for a healthy planet and all who live here. Each loss carries with it a missing piece of life’s intricate puzzle and the benefits it brings to human well-being. The price we pay for these losses is incalculable.
    “Nature’s Toolbox” brings together works by artists who explore biodiversity’s many facets. Some grapple with the ways our everyday activities are linked to loss of species and biodiversity. Others examine how biodiversity contributes to the quality of our lives, or probe the potential of nature’s amazing blueprints to build a future in which human needs are met in harmony with nature. At its core, “Nature’s Toolbox” is a celebration of biodiversity, creativity, and ingenuity.


    • Robotic insects, like Joyce Hsu’s “Odonata,” are inspiration for a variety of applications such as search and rescue in the aftermath of disaster, spying, pollinating crops, and traffic monitoring.


    • Donna Keiko Ozawa’s installation “The Waribashi Projectl” points out that single-use disposable wooden chopsticks contribute to our loss of biodiversity through deforestation.


    • This llustrated model, titled “Dissipative System” by Charles Lee, uses a skin of thermochromatic tiles to regulate heat and curved smart solar control glass to regulate light transmission. 


    • “Bee-Doublebubble (Why Did the Bees Leave),” by Katja Loher, is a kaleidoscopic video installation where worker bees are portrayed by humans to complete the task of pollination.


    • Lori Nix photographed the tabletop landscape she constructed, “Natural History,” from the City Series. She uses natural disaster to challenge the notion that we live in a friendly and predictable universe that is under our control.


    • Vincent Callebaut creates the futuristic, “Hydrogenase, Algae Farm to Recycle CO2 for Bio-hydrogen Airship, Shanghai Aerial Perspectives on the South of China.


    • Kahn & Salesnick’s print, “Der Fiedermaus,” focuses on a fictional theatrical troupe staging a play based on the plight of the brown bat against disease.


    • Isabella Rossellini, dressed as a bee, from the “Green Porno” series of short films on animal sexual behavior.

    Exhibition Statement

    Art can help build awareness. Indeed, nature and science are inextricably linked to art in the environmental realm. While science measures the health of the planet, art helps us visualize our complex relationship to the natural world. Art has a unique set of tools to represent our world: irony and allegory, metaphor and humor. Science provides facts while art tells stories.

     

    The need for environmental stories has never been greater. Earth is steadily crossing increasingly alarming thresholds of climate change and other environmental challenges. Biologists view human impact as the primary contributor to an emerging mass extinction. People are hungry for positive images of the future. Effectively told, stories can have a powerful impact in determining how our future unfolds. The stories at the heart of “Nature’s Toolbox” offer fresh perspectives, demonstrating that humanity itself is an essential piece of this system, and the salvation not just of nature, but ourselves.

     

    Earth is home to as many as 20 million species, but only a tiny fraction are known and scientifically classified. The interdependence among organisms and their environments sustains the conditions needed for survival by all living creatures: clean air and water, crop pollination, pest control, climate regulation, soil nutrients, and a diversity of plants and creatures, among other things. These are “nature’s services” that support us, every hour of every day, for “free.” The importance of biodiversity is often undervalued, as “free” things often are.
    The reality is that species are disappearing at an alarming rate, claiming individual genes and entire ecosystems—and, along with them, the blueprints for a healthy planet and all who live here. Each loss carries with it a missing piece of life’s intricate puzzle and the benefits it brings to human well-being. The price we pay for these losses is incalculable.

     

    “Nature’s Toolbox” brings together works by artists who explore biodiversity’s many facets. Some grapple with the ways our everyday activities are linked to loss of species and biodiversity. Others examine how biodiversity contributes to the quality of our lives, or probe the potential of nature’s amazing blueprints to build a future in which human needs are met in harmony with nature. At its core, “Nature’s Toolbox” is a celebration of biodiversity, creativity, and ingenuity.

    Venues

    The Field Museum , Chicago, Illinois, USA | May 22 – December 2, 2012
    The Leonardo, Salt Lake City, Utah | January 28 – August 5, 2013
    Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita, Kansas | August 31 — December 17, 2013
    University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art, Iowa|August 25- October 18, 2014
    MuBE, Sao Paulo, Brazil|2015

    For more information email Info@ArtWorksforChange.org

     

    Participating Artists

    Allora & Calzadilla, USA & Cuba; Suzanne Anker, USA; BioHarmonious, USA; Antonio Briceno, Venezuela; Vincent Callebaut, France; Rob Carter, USA; Catherine Chalmers, USA; Ri Crawford, USA: Anthony Discenza, USA; Chris Drury, UK; Aganetha Dyck and Richard Dyck, Canada; Cao Fei, China; Hall & Moline, USA; Chris Jordan, USA; Kahn & Selesnick, USA & UK; Christian Kerrigan, UK; Isabella Kirkland, USA; Charles Lee, USA; Katja Loher, Switzerland; Lori Nix, USA; Lucy & Jorge Orta, UK; Donna Keiko Ozawa, USA; Sven Pahlsson, Norway; Susan Plum, Mexico; Ken Rinaldo, USA; Isabella Rossellini, Italy; Tomas Saraceno, Argentina; Yuriko Yamaguchi, Japan; Xu Zhen, China; Marina Zurkow, USA; E.V. Day, USA; Joyce Hsu, Hong Kong; Don & Era Farnsworth, USA; Neri Oxman, Israel

     

    Press Release

    Click to view the Press Release

     

    Exhibition Catalog

    Click to view the Exhibition Catalog

    Sponsors