Ecology through an artist’s lens

Art has long served as a catalyst for dialog, particularly when it turns its interpretive lens to reflect upon the major issues of an era.

On April 20, 2017, art and nature lovers will meet up at Breckenridge Theater to explore the topic of art ecology—the intersection of people and their environment through an artist’s lens—with a film screening and discussion led by High Country Conservation Center (HC3).

The event is part of BREW: Ideas + Creation Lab, a monthly salon series from Breckenridge Creative Arts (BCA) that provides a forum for discussion among creative professionals.

“An increasing number of contemporary artists are shaping their subject matter around environmental issues,” said Becca Spiro, BCA’s director of learning and innovation, who is also working with HC3 on educational activities for WAVE: Light + Water + Sound, BCA’s June festival that explores water and environmental topics through public art. “Art represents a way to inform and influence change,” she said.

The April BREW will feature a screening from “Ecology,” a PBS documentary from Art21 featuring the work of contemporary environmental artists, including photographer Robert Adams, whose subject is the American West. “It’s a region for which the country had great hopes and something very distressing has happened in the course of that effort,” Adams told Art21. “We’ve got to try to fix it but not lose heart.” His work documents “what’s glorious in the West and remains glorious,” while also showing “what is disturbing and what needs correction.”

HC3 will use the film segment as a jumping-off point for a discussion on “how art can activate our sense of place and our relationship with the environment,” explained Jessica Burley, the group’s community programs manager. “Can we better utilize art to tell the story of changing landscapes, and motivate communities to imagine a more sustainable and harmonious future?”

A nonprofit organization that promotes waste reduction, water conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable food production, High Country Conservation Center kicked off its new water conservation program last year around the same time as BCA’s first WAVE festival. Partnering together to raise awareness seemed like a natural fit. “We are excited to engage with a new audience, and get word out about our organization,” said Burley. “We are thankful BreckCreate has decided to partner with us.”

In addition to hosting the April BREW, HC3 is collecting used plastic water bottles, which volunteers will use to create a work of art with BCA’s guidance at the WAVE festival in June.

“Water bottles are one of the largest plastic pollutants in the world,” said Burley. Although they can be recycled or reused, many end up polluting waterways and natural spaces. “It calls into question the need to have these water bottles at all,” Burley said.

HC3 will share statistics on the bottles’ environmental impact, and a series of ways viewers can engage with the group and other organizations to take action. The idea is modeled after the Denver Zoo’s exhibit of “Washed Ashore, Art to Save the Sea,” featuring art created from beach debris along with information on how the debris impacts sea life.

“Our goal is to create meaningful connections between the exhibited artwork and environmental issues,” Spiro said. “We hope that visitors will be emotionally impacted and inspired to learn more about local and global environmental issues.”


High Country Conservation Center // highcountryconservation.org
PBS documentary ‘Ecology’ // art21.org/films/ecology