Local artist spearheads 'natural' art show

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon/Region - posted Sun., Aug. 14, 2011
The idea for the exhibit stemmed from this work, also called, 'Nature Nourishes,' created by Lori Robeau of Vernon and Karen Talbot of Rhode Island. Courtesy photos. - Contributed Photo

“’Nature Nourishes’ is a way of reconnecting people with the natural world,” said Lori Robeau, the co-curator of the exhibition, and one of its 21 artists. Robeau, a Vernon native, and the exhibit's co-creator Karen Talbot, of Rhode Island, were the former directors of the Blackstone River Gallery in Woonsocket, R.I. Robeau is also the assistant director of the CT Arts Connection (formerly Gallery 46), which is sponsoring the show, and was recently named the executive director of the Vernon Community Arts Center.

Robeau said the idea for the show grew from a collaborative work of the same name which consists of a table apparently overgrown with vegetation. “The idea is to elevate weeds to the table – put them on a pedestal, basically,” she said, “because they've been shunned in society. People spend thousands of dollars trying to kill them, but in actuality, they are medicinal and nutritious.”

Robeau said she and Talbot wanted a show that expanded on that idea, and spoke to how industry and technology are taking over people's lives.

Several artists the two were already acquainted with were contacted, and a nationwide call went out over Facebook. The resulting conglomeration of 22 artists includes several from Connecticut and Rhode Island, but also from as far away as Colorado and New Mexico. As one might guess, all the works are about, of, or influenced by nature, but Robeau said those expecting traditional landscapes and the like will be pleasantly surprised.

“This is not your traditional nature/landscape show,” she said. “The works push the boundaries and perceptions of nature and the many ways it nourishes human kind.”

Robeau said the message she hopes people get from the show is that humans are far more connected with nature in more ways than are commonly realized. “It’s not just about taking a walk in a park,” she said, adding that nutrition is another way people interact with nature.

“Nature provides us with all the nourishment needed to foster growth, promote health, and sustain life,” Robeau said. “Not only does nature nourish us physically as food, but also psychologically and emotionally. The need to return our attention to nature and the natural is particularly relevant at this time.”

Careful to say she is not a “tree hugger,” Robeau said her piece in the exhibit, called “Forest for the Trees,” focuses on how continued consumerism and industrialization may be leading humanity on a path it doesn't ultimately want to go down.

“It's basically talking about how, if we keep on the path that we're on, we may only be left with a shadow of the natural world,” she said. “It's a detrimental consumer path.”

“Nature Nourishes” opens Aug. 19 with a reception from 6 to 10 p.m. at ArtSpace Hartford, 555 Asylum St. in Hartford.

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