For UNH alum, “eco-art” creates real bond to the world
Published: Friday, May 4, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
Starting Jan. 28, the gallery in the art museum was filled with Jordan’s oversized photographs which showed hundreds, thousands or even millions of objects to express these statistics.
“Plastic Bottles,” an image five feet by 10 feet, shows two million plastic bottles scattered haphazardly to depict the number of plastic beverage bottles used every five minutes in the U.S.
“Skull with Cigarette,” an image nearly as large as “Plastic Bottles,” presents a more obvious message. The picture, comprised of images of 200,000 packs of cigarettes, shows a skeleton smoking, in representation of the number of Americans who die from cigarette smoking every six months.
“I love that you have to look both up close and then step back to see the big picture to fully appreciate what he’s trying to convey,” Sara Cleaves, associate director of the UNH Sustainability Academy, said. “That’s so true of sustainability too - the details and the big picture matter. You can’t fully understand and change the world unless you appreciate and see both.”
Kristina Durocher, director of the UNH Museum of Art, thought that Jordan’s artwork was a productive way to approach the topic of sustainability. She said she hoped that students would be able to connect his art and its messages to their own lives.
“Art has the ability to get people thinking,” she said. “I hope that his work will inspire.”
Jordan’s exhibition inspired the university to continue exploring sustainability issues and to create the UNH Student Image and Video Contest: What Sustainability Means to Me. Robert Lambert a graduate student studying sustainability politics and policy, said that he thought art is a successful method to share the ideas of sustainability.
“I think everybody’s into art in one way or another,” Lambert said. “There is no true definition of sustainability right now. Art is similar in that way.”
Lambert thought that his project was more idealistic than Jordan’s artwork, which presented very specific topics in its presentation of statistics.
Lambert’s video depicted a seed being planted, from which a tree grows and flourishes in a representation of how education can help sustainability grow. “Curiosity fuels the growth of knowledge. … Altering the landscape of the world forever… Standing for all to see as a symbol of a sustainable world! Inspiring others to become the same…” Lambert’s video read.
“I can see sustainability and art going together hand in hand in the future,” Lambert said.
“Art has always had an incredibly important place in human histories and cultures, and the fact that more people are really appreciating the connection between art and sustainability only further proves its value,” Cleaves said. “I hope this is more than a passing trend but a lasting cultural shift.”
For Gaudreau, environmental advocacy is not just explored in his art, but also in his lifestyle. He recently finished a project, “My Carbon Footprint: 365 days of tracking my CO2 emissions,” in which he examined his lifestyle to find out the magnitude of his carbon footprint and his impact on the environment.
“Pretty much everything I do contributes to my carbon footprint,” he said. “How many miles I drove, how many pieces of wood did I put into the woodstove to keep the house warm…”
Gaudreau’s home is equipped with woodstoves and a wood pellet furnace. He uses solar panels to produce solar hot water and solar electricity for his family’s home. The appliances in his home are low energy usage and he recently purchased a new car that uses biodiesel fuel and which gets approximately 46 miles per gallon.
On the property is also Gaudreau’s studio, a renovated barn. The proximity of his studio to his home was even a conscious way to reduce his carbon footprint; he no longer has to drive to work, reducing his use of gasoline.
Out behind the studio is a macro-farm, where Gaudreau has chickens, honeybees and maple trees, among other crops, and is able to produce food that feeds five families.
In all aspects of life, Gaudreau said that he tries to use, “the least impact option I can take.”
“I think about it a lot,” he said of a sustainable lifestyle. “[I am wholly] into this.”