News: Biodiversity art show opening at Chicago’s Field Museum May 22 - International Day of Biodiversity
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, May 21, 2012 - “Nature’s Toolbox: Biodiversity, Art,
and Invention,” a new traveling contemporary art exhibition, opens at Chicago’s Field Museum May 22. Harnessing technology and inspired by nature’s amazing design
concepts, the show’s innovative, eye-capturing art helps visitors understand and
appreciate the life-or-death interdependence between the 10-20 million species on earth – including humans – and the quality of the environment we share.
“Many people still don’t realize how much our very lives depend on the
biodiversity of plants, animals, and everything else,” says Randy Jayne Rosenberg, Curator of the show and Executive Director of Art Works For Change, which developed and manages it. Indeed, some ecologists predict that half of all mammals and birds could be extinct within the next century, with similar losses in plants, marine life, and other species – entire ecosystems, in fact. Each loss carries with it lost benefits to human well-being because of the key roles these species play in providing such things as clean air and water, pollination, and climate regulation.
The purpose of the exhibition is to show that humans aren’t just part of the
problem but also the solution: by harnessing nature’s most brilliant ideas, we can improve the quality of human life while living in harmony with nature.
In “Nature’s Toolbox”, which features artworks from artists around the world
across a wide range of media, Rosenberg asked artists to use nature’s wisdom as the inspiration for new artworks. “They explored its genius and found opportunities for invention by employing the lessons nature offers,” she says. “We learn, for example, how by mimicking nature we can harness energy from algae, create fabric with the strength of a spider’s web, self-medicate like a chimp, create amphibian cities with the structure of a lilypad, and build walls made from sugar.”
The show brings viewers a fresh perspective on the relationship between everyday activities and biodiversity, such as Donna Ozawa’s Waribashi Project, an impressive display constructed of 90,000 waribashi, or disposable chopsticks. Every year hundreds of billions of waribashi are thrown away after just a single use, contributing to deforestation, one of the largest contributors to the loss of species.
Unique works such as Green Porno, a series of short films by actress Isabella
Rossellini on animal sexual behaviors, offer fascinating scientific insight along with a big dose of humor. The exhibition also features Charles Lee’s Dissipative System, a wall of touchable tiles that change color in response to heat – mimicking the color, humidity, and temperature changes in the exoskeleton of a Hercules beetle.
Awareness is the first critical step in changing our individual and collective
outlook from one that exploits nature to one that nurtures it, points out Rosenberg. Art builds awareness by helping us visualize our complex relationship to the natural world.
“Science provides facts while art tells stories,” she says, adding. “The need for
environmental stories has never been greater – people are hungry for positive images of the future. The stories at the heart of ‘Nature’s Toolbox’ offer fresh solutions, making it clear that humanity is itself an essential piece of this system. By understanding the relationships, not only can we save nature, we can save ourselves, too.”
Entrance to “Nature’s Toolbox” is free with basic admission to The Field Museum. For
further information, visit fieldmuseum.org or www.artworksforchange.org.
Art Works for Change produces traveling contemporary art exhibitions that address
social and environmental issues. It applies the transformative power of art to promote
awareness, inspire action and provoke dialogue. The exhibitions serve as catalyst and crucible where artists, museums, advocacy organizations, and the local community can unite in common cause. Art Works for Change is a 501c3 charitable corporation.