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Aug 082008
 

By Julie Bonnin
Artists are in a unique position to comment on the state of the world and environmental concerns. Using found objects is one well-known mode of artistic expression that reinforces the idea of finding beauty all around us, while imbuing value in discarded items from a throwaway culture.

Environmentalist artists also are finding inventive ways to coalesce. Houston’s Green House Art Gallery, which opened its doors this week, features artists whose work reflects environmental themes (like Elizabeth Cencini’s In The Woods, shown here).

It joins a host of other enviro-friendly artists’ collectives, including the seven-year-old online art gallery, Greenmuseum.org, a powerhouse of postings highlighting environmental art happenings taking place around the world, as well as showcasing hundreds of artists’ work.

The Green House Art Gallery, housed in an emerald green refurbished house in a neighborhood near downtown Houston, features artists like Susan Spjut, whose contemporary work includes collages that explore themes such as technology versus nature. Spjut, a forensic nurse, uses discarded fabrics, or string, applying paint over them to produce images.

Another Green House artist is Lilibeth Andre, associate director at the Shell Center for Sustainability at Rice University. Andre creates lushly colored pieces that reflect the serenity of nature. Originally from Mexico, she promotes the conservation of Latin American culture and nature through her work.

A group of San Francisco-area artists launched Greenmuseum.org back in 2001, with a goal of “healing our relationship with the natural world.” French artist Stephan Barron has used video and computers to create what he calls “technoromantic” work. His “Ozone” converted ozone from French car exhaust and Australian UV levels into a kind of music, and other works have involved community gardens he has planted.

Green House artist Elizabeth Cencini says the Houston artists who formed the cooperative were inspired by a desire to make a difference in Houston, which is known more for its poor air quality and oil refineries than for promoting green causes.

“We all agreed that when we started the co-op we would be different from any gallery in Houston. We wanted to promote our art but also we wanted to inform and help out our community.”

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