Certain histories; [un]Certain Futures
By William Kopp
NewARTSpace of De Pere — a non-commercial, artist-driven exhibition, event and studio space — opened its newest exhibition, [un]Certain Futures, today.
[un]Certain Futures is an exhibition featuring The Environmental Photographers Collective (EPC) — a loose affiliation of six women, living in different parts of the United States, focused on photography in relation to their own environmentally-related interests.
The exhibition is meant to align with Earth Day/week and is deeply grounded in environmental issues and concerns from around the country.
“People can expect to see six very distinctive approaches to the ideas involved in dealing with climate crisis, environmental concern and that sort of thing,” said artist Terri Warpinski. “We are all using photography in one form or another in our work, but it ranges from video work, to book art, to color in black and white, to constructed layered historic processes and work that is off the wall. We’re hoping to bring something new to the Green Bay area and introduce artists that we think are worth knowing. And, you know, just excite things a little bit.”
Some may wonder how the theme [un]Certain Futures relates to the exhibition itself, and that’s exactly what the artists aim to answer within their pieces.
“Over the last three years, we have been hearing the phrase ‘in this time of uncertainty’ over and over and over again,” said Warpinski. “We believe that things like the pandemic are only one small symptom of much larger issues that we as a society, a global society, face. And so, there is a book that inspired me that was called ‘Certain Histories’. I often play around with the way that words might explore ideas and so the idea of taking certain histories and shifting it to uncertain futures seems to be a way to broadly address all that we have in front of us that we really don’t know how we’re going to cope with.”
The real goal is to take these ideas of uncertain futures and really explore how they affect the world around viewers and artists alike.
While the exhibition itself focuses on the environmental issues dealt with around the world and the uncertainty of what will happen in relation to those issues, each artist of the EPC has found themselves dealing with their own bit of uncertainty throughout the last few years, from the pandemic itself to environmental issues in their respective regions of the country.
“I think it has created a free space on the bingo card, would be my way to sort of analogize it,” Warpinski added. “It creates a space where there is an opportunity that you might not have made the time for in the past, to reconsider past assumptions and to think about new possibilities. We have the rest of our lives to be doing something significant with so why wait, you know, the future is now; grab it by the reins.”
A result of the pandemic
It could be said that this exhibition wouldn’t have happened without the unity these artists found within themselves at the beginning of the pandemic.
The EPC — consisting of Marion Belanger, Dana Fritz, Margaret LeJuene, Judy Natal, Martina Shenal and Warpinski herself — really started in March 2020 when the world shut down, and they began to meet once a month by Zoom as a way of maintaining a social connection and finding ways to manage the isolation of COVID-19.
“I mean everybody kind of needed a helping hand,” Warpinski said. “Because we share similar sympathies, concerns, philosophies in our worldview and we make our artwork reflect what we care about. It was a way for us to show up and support one another and create something more than what any one of us could do individually. Like putting on an exhibition, writing grant proposals, collaborating in written articles and even our website for people to go to and look more deeply at this. It’s a place for us to share information, not just between us, but with the world.”
Warpinski continued, “What we’re really always seeking to do as a collective is to use art to seed conversation, to try to use it as a mechanism or a vehicle where people find that they can talk about these ideas. And so I mean that’s my personal mission as an artist, to try to engage with my community in that way. Proclaiming, you know, art matters, and I’m willing to do anything I can to help create interesting engagement, knowledge, understanding and connection through art.”
Viewers can also look forward to an interactive component in which they can bring their own plant material to the show and create a cyanotype that will go up on one of the walls, to be collected at the end of the show.
For those seeking to enjoy the pieces of the six artists, you can visit NewArtSpace in De Pere at 124 North Broadway, for free, from April 14-May 20 and for more information on the exhibition, visit https://www.newartspace124.com/exhibitions/uncertain-futures.