In Partnership with Cambridge College, 2022
Banner Art detail: Ginny Zanger, "Veiled and Pointed Truths"
As an environmental activist and a visual artist, I have found it surprisingly challenging to bring together these two passions. But I have been able to merge them in two projects over the past 15 years.
My interest in protecting the oceans stems from personal experiences as a deep sea SCUBA diver, where I discovered the peace of the deep. I spent several years making monotypes to share the beauty of endangered coral reefs. In 2010, when the disastrous BP oil spill, the Deepwater Horizon, occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, it took awhile for me to make the pivot in my work - I was blissfully pulling prints of beautiful underwater landscapes while listening to the devastating news, before finally making the connection. Once I turned to making monotypes in response to the horrific images of spewing oil, I struggled with how to make art that did not beautify destruction, yet was beautiful. Eventually, I produced a series that was exhibited at the Massachusetts Statehouse, in the chambers of the MA Committee on Public Health.
Fifty years of weekly walks in the Arnold Arboretum have deeply informed my landscape painting. So I was pleased to accept an invitation for a solo show at the Hunnewell Gallery, in the Arboretum’s visitor center, in 2021. In addition to providing a respite for citizens, the Arboretum is the center for Harvard’s botany research. From visits to the labs of Arboretum research scientists who study phenology, I have learned how global warming impacts our local plants and trees over time. I found the work that scientists shared with me moving - and heartbreaking. The fragility of our environment and the prospect of our impermanence emerged in the work, and I have been heartened that Dr. Catherine Chamberlain has been able to illustrate her talks on climate change with my work, as can be seen in the YouTube video that was made of our recent talk: A Way In: Art, Science, Climate Change. Because of COVID, my exhibit, OVER TIME: Through Art, the Impact of Change in the Arboretum Landscape, was not shown at the Arboretum’s Visitor Center as planned, although the virtual exhibition was able to reach an international audience. In 2023, Dr. Chamberlain and I will again collaborate for an exhibition that will be hung at the Arboretum’s Visitor Center. Dr. Chamberlain believes that the use of scientific data is not impactful enough to generate the kind of response that will be necessary to ameliorate the effects of the coming ecological disaster: art has a vital role to play. I have begun preparations for the upcoming exhibit with a monotype series made from broken plates imprinted with impressions from botanical material, suggestive of our fractured natural world.
I am delighted to present work from this series for “Good Trouble.”