Encounters and Entanglements, The Art of Mapping and Meaning will run through Friday, December 3, 2021. The exhibition presents works by members of the Mapping and Meaning collaborative founded by Krista Caballero in 2010. The members are artists, scientists, and scholars who are engaged in creating an interdisciplinary approach to studying and presenting information about social and environmental change. Works include painting, sculpture, photography, music, and video performances.
Krista Caballero’s “Birding in the Future” (on-going) explores the current extinction rates of birds because they are bioindicators of environmental change. The installation allows the visitor to listen to bird calls of endangered and extinct species provided by Frank Ekberg, and to view many of these birds through a stereopticon. Included are birds from Queensland in Australia, the Arabian Peninsula, Norway, Mid-Atlantic America, and Rhein Main in Frankfort, Germany. This on-going project highlights regional trends and mapping of global commonalities. The exhibition also includes Krista Caballero’s “Portable Field Desk” (2016) that helps viewers better understand the process.
“Survival 101” (2012) (12’’x2’’x4’’), also by Krista Caballero, is a sculpture and video performance. This work features two hand-made levelling rods seen in a 1916 photograph of a survey group composed entirely of women. This photograph is one of the influences for the Mapping Meaning project. Leveling rods are moveable poles that can be easily seen from a distance, and that are used to determine the height of one elevation in relation to another. Caballero carved and painted the levelling rods with historic images and modern barcode references. The video combines performances in Utah in 2012 and at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania in 2014, when the group used basic signaling techniques and Morse code to communicate with each other.
Megan Singleton’s handmade paper sculpture “Ebb and Flow VII, Chester River” (2021) (9’ x 19’) is a representation of the Chester River watershed. It is an excellent example of the combination of art, science, and ecology. Healthy watersheds provide clean drinking water, good fishing, and areas for water sports, and they help with soil formation, nutrient cycling, erosion/sedimentation control. and much more.
In addition to mapping the Chester River watershed, Singleton made the paper she used in the sculpture from plants and abaca. Abaca (Manilla Hemp) is the long fiber cell part of the leaf that supports the plant. It is known for its strength and resistance to salt water. Planting abaca controls erosion because its water holding capacity has proved to prevent floods and landslides. Abaca waste makes organic fertilizer. Abaca also is used for tea and coffee bags, sausage casing, vacuum cleaner bags, recyclable paper.
The works in the exhibition provide the visitor both visual and educational experiences. The accompanying catalogue states the purpose of Mapping and Meaning: “Through collaborative actions, Studies for Making and Unmaking works to collapse boundaries between selves as a way to generate transdisciplinary and interspecies futures…Our artworks bring together digital and analogue images, installation, projections and performances.”
The exhibition closes December 3, 2021. The Kohl Gallery is open on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 1:30 until 5:00 pm, and on Wednesday from 4:30 until 7:30 pm.
Beverly Hall Smith was a professor of art history for 40 years. Since retiring with her husband Kurt to Chestertown six years ago, she has taught art history classes at WC-ALL and Chesapeake College’s Institute for Adult Learning. She is also an artist whose work is sometimes in exhibitions at Chestertown RiverArts and she paints sets for the Garfield Center for the Arts.