Artists display different art forms discussing climate change


Ryan Lorenz

Artist Mel Smothers’ sculptures at the Wild Gods exhibition on Thursday. The sculptures are his recreation of classical sculptures on top of Brillo boxes.

The inaugural opening of the Wild Gods exhibition occurred on Thursday and featured artists’ depictions of climate change through different forms of art including painting, photography and sculptures.
The exhibition was curated by Adjunct Art Professor Geri Donovan and featured artwork from Artists Anne Gregory, Richard Herrera, Debra van Hulsteyn, Kim Scott, Mel Smothers, Peter Spencer, Stephanie Taylor, Burnell Vassar and Shelley Zenter.
“In the fight against climate change, there are certain things you can do that are non-violent and art is one of them,” Scott said.
Scott said that when the fires happened in Paradise, CA, it really “galvanized” her to represent the effects climate change will have on her work. Scott is also an avid birdwatcher and has birds all throughout her work.
The birds are all hand painted and have color to them, but the backgrounds of her pictures are all fingerpainted and are gray like smoke. Scott said that it is possible to view her art and see the birds as “symbolically being us.”
The event came together because of Scott and her reaching out to other artists that she knew shared similar sentiments about climate change, such as Smothers.
His sculptures are meant to replicate classical sculptures, but with Smothers’ artistic vision, he used debris like branches and rocks.
“Last year, I got evacuated again for the fire up in Tahoe and that’s when the idea really came,” Smothers said. “Here’s all this material that could become art.”
Smothers uses a Brillo Box in each of his sculptures. He said he uses them as a pedestal and believes that this will provoke thought in people who see his work because of “all of these burnt things” being placed on top of a commercialized box.
“We’re talking about mass commercialism and that’s why we can’t get control of the climate because no one’s willing to give up their dollars and do what it takes,” Smothers said.
Smothers was not the only artist present that actively pointed the finger at companies in their artwork.
Van Hulsteyn said that she does not go looking to make a political commentary in her work, but it happens naturally. She said she goes out with a canvas and paints what she sees.
In one of van Hulsteyn’s paintings at the gallery, there is smoke and fire in the distance with a PG&E sign in the foreground.
“That’s my way of saying, ‘Hey, you caused this and here’s your mark that you put upon the earth,’” van Hulsteyn said.
Other artists at the event did not consider political commentary in their artwork.
“I didn’t go there with politics in mind,” Spencer said. “I went out there to experience and those are the pictures that I took.”
Throughout the event, a student-made band called Requiem performed outside to add to the atmosphere. The band consists of six students who are in the jazz or orchestral band at CRC.
“We chose some more relaxed, laid-back music to play here,” said 19-year-old music major Armando Muse.
The Wild God’s exhibition is open on campus until Jan. 13 from 12 to 4 p.m.