April 20-July 13: Ecocentric: Art, Ecology, and Engagement is the new exhibit at Gordon Parks Gallery

In the upcoming Metropolitan State University Gordon Parks Gallery exhibit, Ecocentric: Art, Ecology and Engagement, the featured artists address environmental issues through their work and engage the public in their creative medium.

Erica Rasmussen, Gordon Parks Gallery director
Erica Rasmussen, Gordon Parks Gallery director

“Ecocentric is a term that was coined in recent years to denote a nature-centered system of values; that which directly opposes anthropocentrism (the idea that humans are the center of the universe), says gallery director Erica Rasmussen about the exhibit. “Like the development of environmentalism that seeks to protect the natural environment, Ecocentrism intends to challenge Western practices associated with culture, science and politics. In the arts there has also been an emergence of ecologically minded individuals who seek to raise our consciousness about pressing environmental issues through solution based artworks. Each of these artists not only addresses environmental issues through their work, but also engages the public in their creative practice.”

Exhibition participants include Miranda Brandon, Minneapolis; Rachel Breen, Minneapolis; and Mary Johnson; Shoreview.

Brandon is an animal enthusiast and bird rehabilitator. Her DIY Animal Populator is a participatory series of die-cut posters that feature animals of variable levels of “conservation concern.” Accompanying the series are archival prints of the featured die-cut animals re-photographed in natural environments. These fabricated wildlife photographs model the interaction Brandon hopes for participants to have, prompting for a moment to engage with an animal and the land, creating a shared story while pondering our place and connection to this web of life and being. Viewers are encouraged to choose a die-cut poster to participate in the practice of empathy building and artificial, photographic population bolstering, uploading images to an electronic platform to share with others.

Breen is an advocate for the practice of saving heirloom seeds. With this work she asks “What have we inherited from the past, that we hope to pass on to future generations?” Through her charcoal drawings made directly on the gallery walls and ceiling, Breen honors the ancient practice of saving seeds as a way to protect environmental diversity. Breen’s drawings are often accompanied by free heirloom seeds. Instructions are provided on how to plant and save the seeds, encouraging individuals to become active in preserving sustainability.

Johnson organizes water stewardship projects and gathers discarded materials from other public sites. The collected debris is then used in the assembly of dimensional objects that address the importance of environmental preservation. For this exhibition, Johnson will present a series of colorful sculptures entitled Extremophiles, constructed from storm drain trash.

The exhibit opens with a reception from 5 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 20 with a gallery talk with the artists at 7 p.m. The exhibit will be on display through July 13.

Spring gallery hours are 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Summer hours are 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday. The gallery is located at the university’s Saint Paul Campus in the Library and Learning Center, 645 East Seventh Street. For more information about the exhibit, contact Erica Rasmussen, gallery director, at 651-999-5942 or e-mail her at erica.rasmussen@metrostate.edu.