New Yorker Niizeki Hiromi creates a lovely hanging patchwork lattice curtain out of thousands of cellophane envelope windows, which many communities don’t recycle. Boston’s Pat Shannon fills a gallery wall with dozens of New York Times pages from which she has cut out all the type, pictures, and ads. Sans the excised information, the result feels like silence, like the whole world redacted.
Boston’s Rachel Perry Welty presents Zen minimalist meditations on everyday ephemera. 208,896 Loaves (2004/2007) is a curious basket nest built from stacked rings of thousands of plastic bread tags. She peeled the stickers off fruit, sliced them up, and turned them into fine looping red, blue, green, and gold lines on a white sheet of paper for Fruit Bowl III (2008). And in Spam Series: Everything Should Be Okay(Claudette, July 20, 2006 11:54:09 AM EDT) (2008), she renders the junk-e-mail slogan “Everything should be okay” in twisted-up aluminum foil.
New Yorker Yuken Teruya cuts delicate tiny trees out of cardboard toilet-paper rolls that he either hangs in a group on a chain or mounts as a group on the wall. Note the gorgeous shadows they cast. Teruya has been playing with this idea of trees turned into paper turned back into trees. His marvelous paper trees cut from and assembled inside paper bags are a highlight of Tufts University’s current (through March 30) “Branded and on Display” show. The toilet-paper-roll trees are cool, but not quite as amazing.
The most dramatic piece here is New Yorker Ellen Driscoll’s Revenant (2007), a roughly 14-foot-long, seven-foot-tall model of a bridge made from cut-up frosty-white translucent plastic milk and water bottles. At one end, a mini crane derrick holds a chain that loops over the center of the bridge to a platform at the other end with a mini McMansion on top and, suspended upside-down below, industrial-looking buildings and a satellite dish atop a tower. The various pieces and symbols are potentially potent, but it’s unclear how it all adds up.
“Greed, Guilt & Grappling: Six Artists Respond to Climate Change” at the Boston Center for the Arts’ Mills Gallery was organized by Mags Harries of Cambridge, who is best known for public sculptures that include the “lost” bronze gloves throughout the Porter Square T station, and Clara Wainwright of Brookline, one of the founders of First Night and the late Great Boston Kite Festival. Wainwright is the rare and amazing person who not only engages the community but starts major civic traditions. So it’s no surprise that this show is focused on activism, community outreach, and seeking conversation.
Somerville’s John Tagiuri presents an igloo made from charred wood to address pollution from burning fossil fuels. Harries assembled a large table from 13 one-legged table parts. They can only stand up together — get it? She’s using it to host community dinner discussions of global warming. For Carbon Footprints, her husband, Lajos Heder, covered the ceiling with black shoe prints that form clouds. Susan Rodgerson and Artists for Humanity constructed a bulletin board of news clippings and handwritten statements about autos, weather, green building, energy, climate change.
The work is marked by playfulness and community spirit, but the results are unsatisfying — too didactic, too many pat one-liners. The bluntness and the simplicity needed to get a message across on the street often feels simplistic and preachy in the quiet, polite space of the gallery.