NEWBURYPORT – Five artists who focus on Eco-Art will share their hopes and visions for our threatened planet in the new exhibition at the PEG Center for Art & Activism. “Earth Anthem: A Eulogy” is on display from August 6th through September 17th at 3 Harris Street in Newburyport. The public is invited to view the exhibition on Tuesdays through Thursdays from noon to 5 p.m., and Fridays through Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.
The public is invited to a special event on Wednesday, Aug. 31 from 6-8 p.m. It will include an artist reception and program featuring artists Lisa Barthelson discussing her “Family Debris Series: Sculpture and Mixed Media;” Rebecca McGee Tuck on her wrack line art and volunteer work with Surfrider Foundation Massachusetts Chapter; and Olivia Fischer Fox on how she combines art and her activism with Mothers Out Front Brookline, advocating for a liveable climate for our children.
“The title of an exhibition is a large part of the curatorial process for me,” said PEG Center Executive Director Paula Estey. “Organizing an environmental show, I am keen to amplify two distinct thoughts: the earth is precious and beautiful, and the earth is fragile and endangered. I also hope that, through the lens of visual activism, our community will be moved to act, out of deep love for, and accountability to, our earth.”
“Earth Anthem: A Eulogy,” spoke accurately for me of those two thoughts: she is precious; she is hurt. The word anthem means a song or hymn of praise or gladness. And interestingly, eulogy is an honoring of something, not necessarily something dead,” she said.
Earth Anthem has five extraordinary artists whose work exemplifies high praise and caution for our planet:
• Lisa Barthelson – Originally a painter, Barthelson currently works in many media: printmaking, ceramics, photography, encaustic, site-specific environmental installations/sculpture, mixed media, and found object assemblage. Everything is a potential art medium: a material to be used and transformed. The Rutland, MA-based artist’s ongoing “Family Debris Series” re-purposes materials and objects that have been used by her family of five, giving a second life to old stuff. Her art touches on motherhood, childhood, feminism, consumerism, sustainability and environmental impact, through the selected materials and how they’re used. In essence, her work is a reminder to reuse and reduce.
• Richard Hannaford Eyster – A highly-regarded artist whose medium is dry-brush watercolor, Eyster uses a primarily photo surrealist technique, illuminating the most personal explorations in carefully detailed imagery. The finely detailed work invested in each painting often consumes three to five months. A single leaf might take a week for the precise layering of color, light, and shadow. The son of painters, Eyster lives and works on Boston’s North Shore. His work is in private collections, and he has had solo shows in Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont. His work has appeared at the National Arts Club (NY), the American Watercolor Society at the Salmagundi Club (NY), and National Academy of Design (NY).
• Olivia Fischer Fox — Fox started taking portrait commissions at the age of 16. She went on to earn a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from the Graduate School of Figurative Art at the New York Academy of Art. Her work can be found in numerous private, university and corporate collections throughout the U.S., Italy, France and Great Britain. She currently lives and works in Brookline, MA. Her “Earthly Fables” series is a departure from portraiture into storytelling, combining children and the earth as a starting point to a narrative. The paintings are inspired by a child’s imagination and sit in the context of an unsettled world.
• Jeffrey Nowlin – An artist, a maker and researcher, Nowlin received his BFA in Sculpture from Boston University in 2010, which included painting, printmaking, ceramics and collage. He earned his MFA degree at Massachusetts College of Fine Art and Design. He currently resides in Boston, where he actively exhibits work. He has volunteered in the local arts community, serving as a steering member for the Cambridge Artists Alliance and volunteer at Olmsted Green in Boston. Nowlin has expanded his artistic practice, investigating the form of the body, traumatic experience and personal narrative in his sculptures. He utilizes reclaimed clothing and conscripted objects in his work to ground the viewer with a sense of the body and subjective perception in the everyday. His recent work imagines the complexities of human experience through weaving and embroidery. Nowlin explores reusing and reframing our ideas about consumption through the making of art.
• Rebecca McGee Tuck – McGee Tuck is a fiber sculptor and a collector of lost objects, whose work is inspired by the bits and fragments of land and sea debris that she gathers. The objects may only be unwanted debris, but the sculptural outcome that is composed is a multilayered storyline of what was left behind. The work created for her solo show and continuing series “Along the Wrack Line” raises awareness of the constant misuse of the ocean’s ecosystem. By transforming pieces of marine debris into works of art and symbols of hope, McGee Tuck calls attention to the consequences of polluting our oceans and encourages a new commitment to action. She holds a BFA degree in 3D Arts Sculpture from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and studies with The Alternative Art School (TAAS). IN 2022, she received the Envision Arts Magazine “Best in Show” award for her art in the show Earth Mother IV.
Estey summarized the exhibition: “Whether creating art from harvested trash from the oceans or from their own household consumption, or whether creating from what’s already been used and now repurposed, or painted to describe the beauty and magnificence of the earth with such eloquence you want to weep… All these things are earth. All these things are we. All these things are true.”
The mission of the PEG Center for Art & Activism is to provide our clients and visitors with the transcendent beauty of contemporary art and to be a catalyst for conscious change. We seek to elevate the quality of our community and lives through creative expression, engaging conversations, and committed action. We create and nurture programming to address human rights, social justice and the environment. Visit the PEG Center at 3 Harris St. in Newburyport. Paula Estey can be reached at 978-376-4746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.