2017 EcoHealth Art Competition Showcase
Saddlebill by Kerry R. Thompson
Kerry R. Thompson’s work is both a celebratory and critical exploration of the delicate and highly complex natural biological systems of the world and the artificial human relationship to those systems. The work investigates the intricate interrelatedness of the inhabitants of various worldwide biomes, the formation of these systems through the naturally selective forces of evolution, and the human role as an orchestral agent acting on these systems from the outside, not within. Here the human capacities for ambition, hubris, arrogance, invention, and mimicry are explored in the attempt to replicate from the past or fine-tune the present.
Within the work, the artifice and sterility of the diorama tableau meets the dynamic cacophony of living systems connected by an invisible interdependence. Through the formation and maintenance of these systems, in both historical and current manifestations, the artificial human element orchestrates the natural world from afar.
The use of an economy of short hand, popularized in science illustration and diorama murals, meets traditional, venerated operatic compositional forms of art historical elements. The oil painting language of the artistic past recontextualizes the scientific and biological understanding of the natural world today. The work is a balancing act between opposing stylistic and conceptual reads: natural versus artificial, historical stylism versus contemporary biological understanding, all in the service of a “transcendent wonder” at the complexity and interconnectedness of the natural world and its tenuous relation to the human component.
Kerry R. Thompson was born in 1986 in San Diego, California, graduating with honors from the New York Academy of Art with a Masters degree in Painting in 2014.
While there, Kerry was awarded multiple scholarships, and was one of 6 students to be shortlisted for the Third Year Post-Graduate Fellowship. Since exhibiting his work in his first solo show, “K.R. Thompson: A New Mythos” at the Noel-Baza Gallery in San Diego, CA (2012), Kerry has shown in numerous shows throughout New York City, and has works in numerous local and international collections. In addition, Kerry has participated in numerous artist residencies overseas and locally, including the Terra Foundation for American Art-Europe in Giverny, France, the Hudson River School Painting Residency at Clermont and Olana, NY, and the Bingham Cottage Artist-in-Residence at Hog Island Audubon Camp in Bremen, ME. Recently he was the recipient of a generous grant from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation of the Arts.
Kerry continues to paint, work, and teach in the New York area, and lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
Artist Contact Info: www.kerryrthompson.com
Tied for Second Prize
The City on the Iceberg by Ellis Rosen
The City on the Iceberg speaks to the fragile relationship between civilization and ecosystems. The City balances on the iceberg, needing it to exist, and at the same time slowly straining it. Humanity’s use of carbon-emitting fuels, water-system decay due to overuse, fouling of the oceans, as well as overfishing, industrial farming, and other ecologically unsound practices make it difficult for us to equalize the needs of civilization and the demands of a healthy planet. We must find a way to better balance on our planet if we wish to survive.
The picture invites the viewer into the colorful, detailed city, all the while reminding the viewer of its fragility as it pans outward to present the funneling shape that keeps it above water. The piece also speaks to how cities are sustainable in the smaller human footprint of apartment living. City dwellers use less energy to heat their homes and get to work. Nevertheless, their huge populations strain the local ecology. Humans must learn to harmonize with our environment, attempting to find the right amount of give and take.
Ellis Rosen is a cartoonist and illustrator living in Brooklyn, NY. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review and The Millions. He is the illustrator of a children’s chapter book, Woundabout, from Little, Brown and a contributor to the Eisner-nominated graphic anthology Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular and the New Land.
Artist Contact Info: ellisrosen.com.
Tied for Second Prize
Grow from the Earth by Danyu Ma
At the very beginning of lives, we grow from the same earth together. These kids are made of human’s bodies and animals’ horns and wings, and their faces and gestures speak of the nature of animals as a wolf is howling or a chimpanzee is thumping. Without legs or feet, they stick to, and rely on the earth to grow up, to eventually become a part of the planet.
Science helps us understand more and more interactions between humans, animals, and ecosystems, but also raises questions for each human being about our relationships with other living things and our roles in the ecosystem. By drawing us back to the nature of lives, these sculptures present a simpler world where all lives originate together from the earth, and develop into the planet as one.
Danyu Ma is a young Chinese artist who loves nature. She was born in 1996 in Xi’an, China, and developed a passion for telling stories about human and nature through different works of art at a young age. She was trained in painting and sculpture in Russia and Japan, and her work changes with her growing understanding about the relationship between humans and nature at different periods.
Danyu is currently on leave from school, but she has been working with a local conservation group called Aita Animal Protection Foundation in Beijing, to develop high-impact works of art to help spread conservation education and awareness, challenging people to question their attitudes and notions of humans’ role in nature.