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ASU Art Museum provides tour for green builders

Art Fortune | News 

By Lexie Runge  – The Arizona Republic

The Arizona State University Art Museum hosted a small event and provided tours of its seasonal exhibit, Defining Sustainability, for 120 U.S. Green Building Council members Friday.

The 2009 Greenbuild Expo was held in Phoenix last week and the art event was one of a number of related activities in Tempe.

Nan Ellin, ASU professor, director of urban planning and artist of the exhibit CanalScape, explained that much of the inspiration for her exhibit came through her realization that Phoenix does not yet have a reason to celebrate its canals.

"I want Phoenix to revitalize and build art-filled bridges, parks, and businesses along the canal so that it may be called 'the city of bridges,' " Ellin said.

To do this, she explained that Phoenix must follow the DNA of the city, the desert landscape. Ellin's display in the foyer of the museum contains many graphic designs of shops and parks built along the canal.

The art of her work is in the co-creation of these ideas through organic development, where the neighborhoods can decide what they want in their city. Ellin said there are 150 sites available along the canals for Phoenix to build, and that Salt River Project is onboard for the idea.

CanalScape opened Nov. 10. About 600 to 650 attended, she said.

The exhibit "Nowhere to Hide" is displayed by three local artists: Carrie Marill, Richard Lerman and Julie Anand, an ASU professor.

Marill's work is her contemporary addition to landscape posters she found at a flea market in the 1950s. Marill scanned the posters onto watercolor paper and added her abstract visions, transforming the posters from nature to pictures of change and industrialization. In many of her paintings, Marill adds blue recycling bins, pollution-producing factories, and fast-food signs to the landscapes of the posters. For crude humor she adds words of change like "future site of toxic chemical dumping into clean waterways."

Anand and Lerman's work relates more to desert landscapes.

Anand builds large boards she fills with pictures of trash she finds while walking through the desert. Through her art she stresses the importance of recycling and the effects dumping trash has on its immediate environment.

Lerman exemplifies the damage done to our desert landscape and our contributions to drought through the point of view of Hoover Dam. He demonstrates with a video of the dam and displays its role of producing hydro-power through copper wires that buzz through the exhibit.

Another exhibit, "Defining Sustainability: From the ASU Art Museum Collection," focuses on defining sustainability through five main areas. The artists' ideas of animal body, material, idyll, disaster and responsibility are set upon the walls with goals of recognizing human interaction with the land and its natural world. Many of the pieces are from international artists such as Oscar Oiwa, David Huffman and Thomas Hart Benton, and local artist Matthew Moore.

ASU Art Museum publicist Diane Wallace said the ASU Art Museum, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and the Global Institute of Sustainability worked together on this project with the hope of infusing the idea of sustainability across the university's curriculum.


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