ArtPrize 2015: Humans and Nature – “Blue Go-Go” or “Gangrene”?

Blue Go-Go, Ann Lemanski, ArtPrize 2015

Two beautiful entries in ArtPrize 7 ask us to ponder the connection between humans and the world, but in dramatically different ways.

Blue Go-Go,” by Anne Lemanski, is a collection of twelve brilliantly colored prints of collages the artist created.  The collages depict all manner of animals, plants, human discoveries and creations, and humans themselves.

  • Lemanski says, “The imagery, cut from vintage science and nature encyclopedias, is at once recognizable; yet draws the viewer deeper into a deliberately frenetic space, that explores the relationships between man, nature and the world we inhabit today.”A few of many other entries touching on humans and nature:
    Back to Nature,” by John Leben, playfully pictures housing mounted on large, surreal animals.
    Root of Our Legacy,” by Autumn Bildson (Fisher), emphasizes the brevity of our lives in relation to the whole.
    A Play in Four Acts,” by Kathy Weaver, pictures, cartoonlike, the effects of war on the planet.
    Altered,” by Kimberly Roush, shows the fragile beauty of life using images of leaf skeletons.
    You can find many more human/nature themed entries by entering the tag word “environment” on the ArtPrize web site.

I sensed a positive energy as I viewed the whole, but somehow, each image seemed to have a separate existence.  How are the images related to each other?  And how are humans connected to the rest of the mix?

Gangrene,” by John Haverty, addresses the human/nature relationship in dramatically different fashion.  It too is a wild mix of color, but the earthly life it depicts seems closely interconnected—and maybe even all of one piece.  And, unlike the images of life filled with positive energy seen in “Blue Go-Go”, Haverty intends to show  the negative effect humans have on the whole.  In his own words, “Gangrene presents an ambiguous visual feast that sheds light on problems vexing society such as unchecked population growth, over consumption, pollution and war that we have come to accept as the norm.”

I liked the way Haverty injects some reality by picturing life as an evolving, intimately connected whole.  And the powerful, often negative effect of humans on nature he pictures cannot be denied.  Yet, the over-all effect is strongly negative.  Have human’s done everything wrong?  Is there no hope?

“Blue Go-Go” and “Gangrene” approach the connection of humans to nature quite differently, but they leave us with similar and important questions to answer—Are humans in charge?  Are we simply part of nature?  Are we an undesirable infection in an otherwise perfectly balanced system?

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