On April 22, 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of pollution and heavy use of pesticides. The first national Earth Day rally resulted in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and passage of such robust legislation as the Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. 48 years later, Earth Day is a global event in which more than 1 billion people in 192 countries participate in civically focused actions to bring attention to continuing threats to biodiversity and the environment. This April 22, Catamount Arts will celebrate Earth Day with the official opening of the art exhibition Resa Blatman: Trouble in Paradise.
Resa Blatman’s work is proof that eco-activism is not limited to the scientific community. In Trouble in Paradise, an exhibition of 17 elegantly crafted and exuberant paintings, the artist offers up a visual commentary on climate change and its increasing threat to migratory birds and other animal species. “Nature is full of delight and darkness, energy and decay, life and death,” observes Blatman. “I endeavor to make work that offers me and the viewer an elegiac and seductive visual feast with hints of surrender—surrender of the self, surrender of the natural world, surrender of the things we cannot control.”
Inspired by the decorative traditions of Baroque, Romantic, and Victorian art, Blatman combines paint, assemblage, and intricate laser-cut forms to create beautiful yet unsettling microenvironments. Scintillating Swamp and The Ultimate Whorl show flora and fauna bursting from the confines of the picture frame, giving evidence to the dynamic vitality of nature. But within this abundance of life, we are faced with a clear threat. Tangles of thorny branches leave little room for migratory birds to rest comfortably. The scarred earth and ominous skies in such paintings as The Fall and Heed force viewers to go beyond poetic beauty to consider what happens if nature is stressed beyond her ability to recover. While Blatman’s small worlds are undeniably lovely, they also acknowledge and warn about troubles in our natural paradise.
Resa Blatman’s intricate paintings and multi-layered installations have long been inspired by the natural world, but her most recent work explores the alarming signs of climate change—extreme weather conditions and rising water levels due to shrinking ice caps. In 2015, she was one of 29 artists, writers, and poets who sailed along the west coast of Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago north of the Arctic Circle. During the month-long expedition, the artist hiked on glaciers, boated in and out of fjords, and collected detritus—fishing line, fishing nets, combs, toothbrushes—washed up on the shore. Upon return, Blatman created The Water Project/Rising Tide, a series of large-scale installations made from pliable hand-cut Mylar painted with latex to effectively simulate movement of ocean currents. The artist is currently planning a trip to the ice-capped landmass of Greenland, where she expects to be further inspired by her observation of the natural world.
Blatman holds a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an MFA from Boston University. She has exhibited widely, with solo exhibitions at galleries and universities all over the United States. She is a past recipient of a full fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center, a Blanche Coleman Award and an Artist Resource Trust Award from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. Her work is in public and private collections across the United States, Europe and South Africa. She currently lives and works in Somerville, MA. For more information about the artist, see www.resablatman.com.
Officially opening on Sunday, April 22 as part of the 48th anniversary celebration of Earth Day, Resa Blatman: Trouble in Paradise will be on view in Catamount Arts’ Main Gallery in St. Johnsbury through June 8. Special related programming such as free gallery talks and film screenings will be scheduled throughout the course of the show. All are welcome to attend. For more information about this and other Catamount Arts events, call 802-748-2600 or visit www.catamountarts.org.