By MEGHAN ALESSI
One can always guess what the intended meaning of a work of art may be, but it isn’t very often that you get to hear it straight from the artist’s mouth. April Flanders, former professor at the University of Florida and traditional printmaker, is the creator of the newest installation in the Cochenour Gallery. On Friday, March 1, 2013, students and faculty got the chance to hear Ms. Flanders speak about her installation and the meaning behind it.
On the left wall of the Cochenour Gallery there are several large fuschia and orange flowers displayed. In the back of the gallery there are two framed prints featuring a snake and several other animals and insects. On the right wall there are two birds surrounded by bright orange vines and leaves weaving together, made out of paper and wire. The word “toxic” is printed all over the leaves, which leads into the purpose of the exhibit.
April hopes to make people that see her work aware of the “Unintended Consequences” pertaining to nature. All of the plants, animals and insects used in this exhibit are invasive. The snake featured in one of the prints is a brown tree snake and it is a real problem in Guam. They are not native to the country but they were accidentally introduced after World War II and they have now over-run the island to the point where they actually go into homes in search of a food source.
The bright orange plant mentioned earlier is another example of a non-native species that is having a negative impact on its new surroundings. Of course, it is not orange in nature, but she chose to make it so in this installation to grab your attention Also, the fact that it is combined with the word “toxic” printed all over it sends out a strong message. It is similar to the plant called Kudzu, which you may be familiar with. It grows so quickly that it kills the trees around it by essentially blocking them from sunlight.
Although she said that in the future she may bring the human aspect into the picture, for now she is mainly interested in the globalization of species and their impact on different environments and ecosystems.
She creates the types of prints displayed in the gallery, called monotypes, through a process of layering. She used parts of real plants for the background and then added layer upon layer of shapes and words using lithograph inks and a printing press. It can be time consuming and it can also be risky. Say you have a really great print but you think you need to add one last layer. That last layer changed the look completely and it wasn’t what you were hoping for. Well, there is no point of return so you have to start over. So, each layer you add is a gamble.
Her work is expertly crafted and beautiful to look at. But more importantly, Ms. Flanders’ art also has a much deeper purpose behind it. It is an amazing exhibit and is worth everyone’s time to go and check it out. The exhibition will be on display until March 28, so stop by and experience “April Flanders: Unintended Consequences”!