The University Art Gallery (UAG) will present the exhibition, Water! What is it Good for?, at a timely moment in Southern New Mexico’s climate. Marking three months of post-drought and healthy rainfall in Las Cruces, this show will open on January 21, 2016 and feature works by Florida-based artist Bethany Taylor and Texas-based artist Brenda Perry. In Water! What is it Good for?, Taylor and Perry create critical spaces for viewers to engage with multifaceted environmental concerns. Through their art, Taylor and Perry ask viewers to consider meanings and practices of sustainability, water rights, renewable natural resources, and environmental consciousness. From a pool of fifty submissions to the UAG’s open call for proposals, the UAG Exhibition Review Board selected Taylor and Perry, who provided separate applications, to mount this two-person exhibition that grapples with complex environmental issues.
For this exhibition, Bethany Taylor, an interdisciplinary artist from Gainesville, Florida and Assistant Professor of Drawing at the University of Florida, is using the medium of string to “draw” figurative artworks that will be installed on the UAG’s walls. Some of Taylor’s compositions will incorporate the negative space on the walls, while others will be opaque tapestries. Taylor’s works can be understood as contemporary allegories with a twist; the artist’s narratives are open-ended rather than conclusive. These woven stories combine cross-cultural mythology and symbols with modern-day imagery and concerns for the longevity of our environment. Taylor states that, “if conscious conservation, innovation and planning isn’t made a priority, New Mexico, like many other places in the world, may not have enough water to meet future demand.”
Brenda Perry, an El Paso, TX native, works across media and focuses on the Rio Grande river as the central theme of her work. Born in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Perry has a life-long emotional tie to the river. She sees the Rio Grande as a threshold between communities that needs to be reconsidered from combined social and environmental perspectives. In this exhibition, Perry’s installation artwork, Waiting for Rain, combines photography and video with Rio Grande river clay vessels and sand also sourced from the river. In this work, like others that will be on display, Perry bridges the logic between contemporary virtual and physical landscapes and transforms this juxtaposition into a ritualistic art performance of “giving back” to the earth. Waiting for Rain demonstrates Perry’s belief that “environmental climate change is inherently entwined to the social climate of our time.”
Join us for the opening reception of Water! What is it Good for? on Thursday, January 21, 2016, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the UAG. As an associated program, exhibiting artists Bethany Taylor and Brenda Perry will present a panel discussion focused on environmental issues on Saturday, January 23 at 12 p.m. at the UAG. Both events are free and open to the public.
Water! What is it Good for? will be on exhibit from Thursday, January 21, 2016 through February 27, 2016.
Listen to an interview with Brenda Perry and Bethany Taylor on KTEP’s program STATE OF THE ARTS: Water! What is it good for?.