Maryland artist collective 4 Alarm Artists presents the multi-venue exhibition Unnatural Causes: Art of a Critical Nature, which features works and performances by more than 30 Maryland artists and artist collectives all addressing issues related to detrimental changes to climate and biodiversity.
The show, which features different exhibitions at Maryland Hall in Annapolis from Mar. 5-May 2, at Creative Alliance in Baltimore from Mar. 7-Apr. 11, and at Carroll Mansion in Baltimore from Apr. 22-May 24, was inspired by the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the creation of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Carroll Mansion exhibition will also feature special events and performances throughout April and May such as open mics, crankies, dance, readings, puppetry, fortune card readings, and more.
4 Alarm Artists is Blake Conroy, Lynne Parks, and Bridget Parlato, who work as visual artists, educators, activists, and conservationists and whose work is featured in the first installment of Unnatural Causes at Creative Alliance. 4 Alarm Artists informs that human-driven greenhouse gas emissions have caused 100 percent of the warming observed since 1950, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “With water levels, record temperatures, extinction, pollution, and carbon rates all shockingly on the rise, we don’t need a wave of action, we need a tsunami,” the collective says.
4 Alarm Artists Cofounder Lynne Parks, a 2013 Baker Prize winner for her art about bird conservation, says she hopes the exhibitions raise awareness and inspire a response. “With this show, it really is a coming together of concerned artists who hope their work carries over into action,” Park says. “Art can help explain the problems, offer solutions, and bring people together, but we need everyone to join in. We’re losing the systems that sustain life and the complexities that make life beautiful. We have to try to save them.”
Unnatural Causes is a series of exhibitions and performances that focus on humans’ impact on the planet. With three shows and more than 30 artists, Unnatural Causes spotlights the significant changes in climate and biodiversity. The exhibition is meant to bring together artists, conservationists, and the public to focus attention on climate change.
“Every individual life is precious. This is not just a matter of humankind. We all, every being on the planet, are unique and worthy of being celebrated,” says 4 Alarm Artists Cofounder Blake M. Conroy. “This is what Earth Day means to me. It is also why I am so concerned about the politicizing of climate change.”
“My mother instilled in me a reverence for nature that led to my spiritual connection with the outdoors,” says 4 Alarm Artists Cofounder Bridget Parlato. “Nature is church and library and palace and great celebrational hall all-in-one. For me, it is truly painful to see nature treated as anything less than holy. At this time, human actions are ravaging the environment and the resulting grief can be unbearable, even paralyzing. I fight internal shut-down constantly. Creating cause-related work has been the best answer to this grief.”
Unnatural Causes: Art of a Critical Nature
Maryland Hall, 801 Chase St., Annapolis, MD
Mar. 5-May 2, reception Mar. 19
Artists: Blake Conroy, Tina Hinojosa, Andrea Huppert, Janet Maher, Lynne Parks, Bridget Parlato, Hugh Pocock
Unnatural Causes: Art of a Critical Nature
Creative Alliance, Amalie Rothschild Gallery, 3134 Eastern Ave, Baltimore, MD
Mar. 7-April 11, reception Mar. 7, 6-8 p.m.
4 Alarm Artists: Blake Conroy, Lynne Parks, Bridget Parlato
Unnatural Causes: Art of a Critical Nature
Carroll Mansion, 800 E Lombard St., Baltimore, MD
Apr. 22-May 24, reception Apr. 22. 5-8 p.m.
Artists: Laura Amussen, Ammy Anderson, Jo Brown, Krista Caballero w/ Frank Ekeberg, Blake Conroy, Cathy Cook, Lania D’Agostino, Deborah Donelson, Laure Drogoul, Nicole Fall, Stephanie Garmey, Helen Glazer, John Davis Held, Janet Little Jeffers, Book Karnjanakit, Ashley Kidner, Jennifer McBrien, Jonna McKone, Janet Maher, Tim Nohe, Lynne Parks, Bridget Parlato, Hugh Pocock, Ursula Populoh, Valeska Populoh, Jess Rassp (performance), Michelle Rassp, William Rhodes, Glenn Ricci, Leslie Shellow, Chris Siron, Peter Stern
Ammy Anderson’s ink and watercolor pieces of animals ranging from Tasmanian tigers to prehistoric North American horses not only show beautiful forms in nature, but consider human-caused extinctions and how invasive species fill ecological niches imperfectly, upsetting established symbiotic relationships. (Carroll Mansion)
In his series Mine Lands to Marshes, Peter Stern presents his aerial images of coal mining in Pennsylvania, the Susquehanna River, and the Chesapeake Watershed, bringing these areas together to tell the story of their interconnectedness as a regional ecology. Water pollution caused by mining affects biodiversity and increases toxicity up the food chain. (Carroll Mansion)
In Deborah Donelson’s 60 drawings of babies, birds fall out of their eyes to highlight shifting baseline syndrome, when new generations lose the knowledge of the biodiversity of past generations. (Carroll Mansion)
Performance piece The Vultures: A Reincarnation blends puppetry and martial arts to illustrate the visceral and violent consuming of our decaying earth in order to begin a process of renewal. It centers on ritual performance with vulture characters fulfilling their role in completing the cycle of life by consuming our dead. (Carroll Mansion)
4 ALARM ARTIST BIOS
Blake M. Conroy is from Aberdeen, Md. He holds a BFA from Maryland Institute, College of Art, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Conroy was an artist in residence at Glo’Art Belgium in April 2018 and is represented by the MassoniArt Gallery in Chestertown, Md. Conroy is a recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award. Selected shows include–Solo shows: Hardesty Arts Center in Tulsa Okla.; Bloomsbury University, Bloomsburg, Pa.; Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio. Group shows: McNeese State University, Lake Charles, La., Masur Museum, Monroe, La. (People’s Choice Award), University of Hawaii, Hilo Art Department, Hilo, Hawaii,and The Bennington Center For the Arts, Bennington, Vt.
Bridget Parlato is a designer/artist/activist in Baltimore and sole proprietor of a freelance graphic design business, Full Circuit Studio, and Baltimore Trash Talk, an anti-trash initiative. Her cause-related work is designed to raise awareness of our impact on the earth, our water systems, the animal world and each other.
Lynne Parks is a Baltimore artist, curator, green educator, and environmentally-conscious gardener. She is also the outreach coordinator for the bird conservation and rescue organization, Lights Out Baltimore, and volunteers for Patterson Park Audubon. She is a recipient of the 2013 Mary Sawyers Baker Award and MSAC Individual Artist Award in Visual Arts: Photography, 2018.
About Maryland Hall
Founded in 1979 in the former Annapolis High School, Maryland Hall is the region’s cultural core, convening and engaging the community through arts education, visual arts, performing arts and entertainment. Through year-round classes, performances, exhibits, tours, workshops, and demonstrations people of all ages discover the transformative power of the arts. Each day, Maryland Hall nurtures inspiration, cultivates originality and fosters the imaginations of the children, families, students, and adults who come through our doors. For more information about Maryland Hall, visit marylandhall.org.
About Creative Alliance
The Creative Alliance, founded in 1994, and at its current location since 2003, plays a critical cultural role locally, regionally, and nationally. As its Mission states: “The Creative Alliance builds communities by bringing together artists and audiences from diverse backgrounds to experience spectacular arts and education programs and engage in the creative process. We provide support to area artists, promote Baltimore as a center for creative production, act as a positive force in our community, and advocate for cultural expression rooted in a sense of place.” For more information about Creative Alliance, visit https://www.creativealliance.org/
About Carroll Mansion
Constructed in 1811, Carroll Mansion was residence to Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence, and is under the stewardship of Carroll Museums, founded in 2002 to revitalize Carroll Mansion and Phoenix Shot Tower and is dedicated to creating educational and cultural programs. For more information about Carroll Museums, visit https://www.carrollmuseums.org/