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Floating Islands

Floating Islands

January 10 – February 24, 2015

Reception: Thursday, January 29, 5:30 – 7:30 PM

Art with an environmental edge.Floating Islands is an exhibition of four contemporary artists whose work utilizes recycled materials like plastic bottles and corrugated cardboard to reflect some aspect of the environment and natural processes.


Riccardo Berlingeri, Middletown, NJ

Ken Cro-Ken, New York, NY

David Purcell, Baltimore, MD

Etty Yaniv, New York, NY

Floating Islands is an exhibition of works by four contemporary artists making art with an environmental edge. A variety of materials and processes come together in this group show, immersing the Mikhail Zakin Gallery in sculptures, installations, paintings and a live painting experiment with nature. The exhibit takes its name from the floating islands of trash that have collected in the Pacific Ocean. These islands, inadvertently formed, have held up a mirror to our culture of use. This process of realization catalyzed by a physical form led me to think of the symbolic power of art in contemplating our experience of the world.

One of the most striking aspects of the exhibit is the way art can seem exclusively expressive of the self yet evoke a vast system of interrelation. Each piece in this show is seated squarely in the artists' respective styles, established through ongoing practice and investigation of materials. And yet, each piece has the quality of being rooted in our society and performing an act of reflection, forming a conceptual bond with nature that can be collectively shared.

The works on view recap the awe of the natural, where seemingly disparate organisms interweave to create a tapestry of living beings and ecosystems. Together the artists have formed a humbling space, starting from scratch with layers of corrugated cardboard or colored pieces of newspaper that provide entry to a new slant on the physical world.

All in all, the exhibition is equal parts an ode to Mother Nature, an apology and a pledge. This is what we have done, this is what we love about living here, and this is what we hope for: a planet that we not only avoid offending, but one that we seek to love in all the ways in our power. Through understanding every crevice, walking through the logic that creates these forms, acknowledging the beauty of juxtaposition and the details hidden in plain sight, allowing ourselves to be humbled by the simultaneous representation of a river delta and the veins of a maple leaf, or getting our hands dirty and building monuments to our great mistakes.

Most importantly, and in the context of the Art School at Old Church, the exhibition is a manifestation of the power of the artistic process to transform inanimate materials into complex comments, critiques, and calls to arms regarding human society. We can all benefit from considering our actions as paths from creative ideas to material expression. The show is on view at the Art School, a gathering place for creative development, where it is hoped that all our lives will leave a mark and that mark will be deliberate and artful.

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