What a Wonderful World

Phillips Museum of Art at Franklin & Marshall College
January 30–March 29, 2020

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year old Swedish activist said it best about the environmental crisis in her 2019 lauded speech to the British House of Parliament, “I’m sure that the moment we start behaving as if we were in an emergency, we can avoid climate change and ecological catastrophe. Humans are very adaptable: we can still fix this. But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We must start today. We have no more excuses.” Her powerful words should give us great pause in how we have treated our most treasured national resource, Earth.

Like Thunberg’s words and advocacy, the artists on view in “What a Wonderful World” are creating artworks that are both poetic and poignant about our environment and natural resources. They are drawing attention to how we as a collective have stewarded our planet. Each employs uniquely diverse materials¬–from Oklahoma red dirt, photographic plates, and moss, to 3D printed cellular growth¬–as catalysts to explore their own identity and relationships to the environment while creating a powerful commentary about its plight. The monumental landscape and our place within it is investigated in Binh Danh’s daguerreotypes, Rena Detrixhe directs our attention to the conflicted nature of man’s interference on earth and the people who call it home in her Red Dirt Rug. Marion Wilson’s installation showcases the fragile ecosystem of moss while Ryan Hoover creates simulated tree growth from studying their biological systems. Seen together in this exhibition, the artists’ work both applaud the inherent beauty of our landscape and its flora and lament our current man-made crisis impinging on our natural resources.

Organized by the Phillips Museum of Art at Franklin & Marshall College, the exhibition was co-curated by Amy Moorefield, Museum Director and Janie Krienes, Curator of Academic Affairs and Community Engagement.

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