Last Friday afternoon, the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance warmly welcomed a new exhibition from Robin Gimm ’14 titled “Aesthetic Edibles” and “Polluted Paintings”. The gallery showcases two different collections of work that focus on the relationship between humans and their habitat. Her work aims to educate and inform others about the beauty of nature and the environmental challenges we currently face as a society.
The project was a result of Gimm’s recent summer job at the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives. There, she worked as an artist-in-residence and created the project to represent environmental issues through art. The two collections are not only inspired by Gimm’s own experiences working at Zilkha, but also her clear passion for art.
The first collection “Aesthetic Edibles” features ink drawings of various fruits and vegetables. These works are drawn in a scientific style (a skill that Gimm learned last year while studying abroad through the Williams-Exeter Program at Oxford) and could easily be mistaken for images from a botanical guidebook. Each drawing is neat and precise, as Gimm manages to successfully recreate every detail of each plant with just a pen. Using fine lines, she captures the depth and textures of the leaves and fruit. In her interpretation of a raspberry bush, she reproduces even minute details such as the thin hairs on the skins of fruit and the delicate sharp thorns on the stems.
In each drawing, Gimm directs the viewer’s attention to the plant as a whole rather than to the familiar food that grows off it. Often, it is the blossoming flowers of an eggplant or the ruffled leaves of a strawberry plant that captivate the viewer. Gimm purposely brings the viewer closer to each plant, magnifying its details and highlighting, according to Gimm, its “inherent beauty.” Each drawing is labeled with both the scientific name for the species as well as its common name. After working alongside gardeners over the summer, Gimm discovered how little she knew about the plants that bear common fruits and vegetables. By doing this project, she hopes to educate the public about from where some of our most familiar foods come.
Gimm’s second set of works, “Polluted Paintings,” takes a whimsical look at life affected by the modern world’s pollution and litter. Gimm takes famous masterpieces such as Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” and infiltrates them with pollution’s additions. Each work features a different type of pollutants. “Smoke Makes it Hard to See a Starry Night” depicts the effects of air pollution while “Don’t Oil Spills Make You Want to Scream” is a knock at water contamination. Gimm employs a variety of different styles in each piece, trying to mirror the original artist’s technique and flair. This is more obvious and successful in certain pieces than in others. In “The Composition is Obscured by People’s Trash,” Gimm does a great job of mimicking the modern art of Piet Mondrain with pieces of newspaper and trash abstractly added to the original painting.
This collection is a critique of American’s indifference to our carbon footprint on the world. Gimm strives to represent “what could be lost if we do nothing to redress these problems.” She paints her own additions on a glass window to represent the viewer looking through a window at a specific environment. The window also signifies a new perspective on each painting. Each work, though slightly humorous at times, is compelling and forces the viewer to contemplate the impact of an individual on his or her surroundings.
Looking at Gimm’s work, it is surprising that she is not a studio art major, but rather she studies political science. Gimm demonstrates plenty of talent for drawing and painting, and she shows potential for several different styles of art. Her clean-cut portrayals of plants in “Aesthetic Edibles” indicate her skill for realistic drawing, while her various painted additions in “Polluted Paintings” display a knack for more contemporary art.
While the College community as a whole has become increasingly environmentally friendly, some may not be as aware of the importance of environmental preservation. Gimm hopes that her exhibit will eventually branch out to the broader community and be presented at town hall meetings.“So much of art comes out of the environment,” Gimm said. From what we see to what nature inspires us to do the landscapes, trees, plants and animals make our world just a little bit more beautiful.
Gimm’s “Aesthetic Edibles and Polluted Paintings” will continue to be on display in the ’62 Center atrium for approximately three weeks.