The ability to think critically about human actions and environmental response is necessary in increasingly obvious ways, while their methodology — relational art that emphasizes experience and interaction rather than purely scientific or visual data — is original and compelling. And whether you view it from an art-critical or a social standpoint, the problem that Smudge seem to be confronting is a big one indeed. As those who've been banging the drum about global warming for decades know: it's not how important the message is, it's how you're going to get people to listen.

"ZUIHITSU: LOOK ONLY AT THE WAVES," and other works by Smudge Studio | through Dec 9 | University of Southern Maine — Portland Area Gallery, Woodbury Campus Center | 207.780.5008 | usm.maine.edu/gallery

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