Written by Raine Blunk
With Earth Day behind us, Desotorow reminds us that slow and steady can still win the environmental race with their annual show, “Redux.”
The second annual exhibition will feature environmentally friendly works of art from across the U.S. and Savannah, questioning artists’ responsibility to create artwork that doesn’t exacerbate our current global conditions. And “environmentally friendly” is a strict phrase — all of the artwork must be made from recycled materials.
Clinton Edminster, former university student and Desotorow’s current director, says “Redux” “represents a respect and … inspiration of natural forms.” Edminster believes that studying nature and the “cycles and designs” we see around us every day helps further our understanding of the world in which we live.
One of the show’s curators is Julia Thompson, a second-year painting major who initially approached the “beauty” of recycled art with skepticism.
“I immediately thought, ‘Oh great, another body of work consisting of bottle tops and macaroni.’ However, this is so not the case. I don’t want to give too much away, but … when we first looked at the submissions, I couldn’t believe some of them were made of recycled material,” says Thompson, who is also a part of the gallery’s staff.
Since Desotorow opened, they have focused their values on “celebrating the art of community.” And after “Redux” opens Friday night, volunteers will carry that ideology a step further by taking the environmentally-oriented art into the community.
The exhibition will be temporarily relocated to Lincoln Street for this month’s Play Streets event this Sunday between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Play Streets, a campaign started by First Lady Michelle Obama on behalf of Partnership for a Healthier America, closes specific streets to increase opportunities for children to have open playtime in neighborhoods across the country that offer limited space for physical activity.
“It is good to stare at flowers, and I see no reason to admonish the cloud-gazers,” says Edminster, who’s arguably childlike perspective on nature in reference to the art of “Redux” captures a level of curiosity quite fitting for the event.
This month’s Play Streets will offer live music, vendors from the Forsyth Farmer’s Market, children’s bicycle games, healthy cooking demonstrations, bicycle repairs and valet, art activities and a world record attempt at most people simultaneously hopscotching across eight blocks on Lincoln Street, from Henry to Gaston.
But one of the most remarkable things about the event is its attempt to offer a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle – including an artistic aspect, a point of view to which Desotorow Gallery is no stranger. “Redux” will offer members of the community – adults and children alike – a chance to reevaluate their perspectives on what makes “art” art.
The gallery’s involvement in Play Streets is just one example of an increasing connectivity between various non-profit and for-profit organizations in Savannah. The so-called “bicycle block party” is sponsored by thirteen local businesses including the Telfair Art Museum and the Savannah Bicycle Campaign.
And over time, Desotorow’s continued involvement in events like Play Streets (along with other community-focused organizations) will help bridge the ever-lessening gap between a college-driven arts scene and the families that make Savannah worth the playtime.