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Worldwide theater, art and climate awareness

theater
Betty and Jeff Butler reading the play Single Use by Marcia Johnson

It was so exciting to participate in Climate Change Theatre Action, a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays presented October 1 – November 18, 2017 to coincide with the United Nations COP23 meeting. On their informative website, I could rejoice in the 100+ events taking place across the globe at colleges, theater groups and art studios. Although we are not thespians, my husband and I took the plunge and read the play Single Use, by Marcia Johnson, to a small audience in our home.

Theater inspires my art

In addition, Johnson’s play inspired me to create a new art print, Throw Away Ocean (top). The play is set during a young couple’s first date. Conflict arises when she, concerned with climate change, won’t use a disposable straw for her milkshake. He on the other hand, doesn’t want to discuss serious issues so early in a relationship. My collage combines ocean photography and assorted photos of straws to visually describe the dangers of ocean plastic pollution.

It was also inspiring to feel the enthusiasm coming from the talented theatrical students of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, on October 22, 2017. In their event, which I was able to attend, they interwove music, performed original plays and those provided by Climate Change Theatre Action. Their final presentation included audience participation and dance. I am encouraged to see all manner of artists, across the globe, bringing fresh perspectives to this pressing issue.

Reflecting on sea, sky and weather

Weather
© Betty Butler, Extreme Weather, Digital Art, 2017

Extreme Weather (above) portrays threatening storm clouds that open, not to the sky, but to the sea. I hope to visually explore the concept that the atmosphere and ocean are inescapably bound together. The grayish-purple boarder with moving dots, could even represent molecules of H2O, transforming from a liquid to a vaporous state, as they rise from bodies of water to the sky. I trust that you will find this image visually satisfying as well as thought provoking.

Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are warming the atmosphere. This increase in temperature results in  higher evaporation rates, which in turn allows more moisture to be absorbed into the atmosphere. Consequently, we are experiencing stronger storms with heavier rainfall amounts.

Although climate change is not the cause of hurricanes, a small increase in the average temperature of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico (which has happened this year) can increase their rainfall and strength. We are sadly reminded of this, as we witness the record braking destructiveness of Harvey and Irma.

Print juried into Koehnline Museum of Art exhibit

weather
© Betty Butler, Coral Grief, Digital collage, 2017

I am honored that Coral Grief (above) has been accepted into the exhibition, “Women and Anger: Resistance, Power and Inspiration” at the Koehnline Museum of Art. The jury was seeking art that made a statement concerning recent push backs in political gains made by and for women, other marginalized groups and the environment. My art print Coral Grief, addresses the environmental challenge posed by the world-wide bleaching and dying of coral reefs.

  • Koehnline Museum of Art, Oakton Community College
  • 1600 East Golf Road, Des Plaines, IL, 60016
  •  Reception: Thursday, September 28 from 5 – 8PM
  •  Exhibit runs through Friday, October 20, 2017

Dipping into the beautiful, fragile ocean

Sea shell beach art
© Betty Butler, Nautilus Beach, digital collage

I hope you are enjoying the lake or ocean beach this summer. Because it’s summer, I am posting the peaceful and softly colored image Nautilus Beach, pictured above. Even if you are not at the beach, I hope this image will take you there on a visual journey.

Coral reefs in peril

ocean abstrasts
© Betty Butler, Coral Grief, Digital collage

While the next image is visually pleasant with blue ocean imagery and fan coral, it also addresses the serious problem of coral bleaching. As I have turned my artistic focus from shells and shores to the ocean itself, I have found artist organizations concerned with climate change. I was fortunate enough to be able to write an article for the blog Artists and Climate Change. In the post I said the following about Coral Grief, pictured above:

Coral reefs thrive within a narrow temperature range. Their fate is being challenged as the oceans absorb much of the heat created by global warming. When coral is stressed, it discharges its algae and becomes white or bleached, and vulnerable to death. A major bleaching event is considered one of the most visual indicators of climate change. This image was produced by layering ocean and coral photography. With photo-manipulation, I was able to portray the coral as bleached. As I searched for an appropriate title, the term coral reef yielded to the reality of ‘coral grief.’

In spite of this reality, I intend to enjoy and celebrate our rivers, lakes and oceans. I will fight for their health as well.   

 

 

Playful ocean art talks about climate change

ocean digital collage
Acidic Ocean, Betty Butler, Digital collage, 2017

From an emotional perspective, water can symbolize longing, as in being separated by large spans of ocean. It is a life force, stormy and threatening, as well as calming  and beautiful. From a scientific point of view, the oceans cover 70% of earth’s surface and contain roughly 97% of its water. The oceans supply much of the earth’s food and most of its oxygen through a population of tiny plants.

From an artistic point of view, I am moved to create work about water. In the image above, I layered ocean photography with playfully colored, digitally painted circles, which could suggest bubbles of gas dissolving in water. 

Saving our oceans

Sea water is slightly base as opposed to acidic. As man-made CO2 increases in the atmosphere, it is eventually deposited and dissolved in the ocean. It then skews the water toward a more acidic reading in a process called ocean acidification. As a result, shell-forming animals including corals, oysters, shrimp, lobster, many planktonic organisms, and even some fish species could be gravely affected.

While climate change is an urgent issue, time has not run out for action. Here is a list of ten things each of us can do to save the oceans. I plan to take as many of these actions as I can.

 

Climate change and the oceans: one artist’s response

Climate change digital art print
© Betty Butler, Coastal Question, Digital collage art print, 2017                                                      

I have been thinking a lot about social issues since we have entered this new era in American political life. My special concern rests with climate change and its impact on the oceans. As the polar ice caps warm at an alarming rate, populations plan to evacuate island homes and Miami Beach experiences ‘sunshine’ flooding, climate change deniers abound.

Recently my art has explored the beauty of shells and seashores; therefore I have naturally extended my concern to the oceans themselves. This new series, Abstract Ocean Art, continues to employ digital collage of my acrylic painting and photography. Although semi-abstract, elements of ocean imagery and the titles inform the viewer of various environmental issues.

It is a deep feeling of apprehension for our future that has brought me to delve into this new series.

Creating a warm haven

An image for the New Year

warm haven photomontage print
© Betty Butler, Sunrise Shore, digital collage

I love creating a warm haven in the midst of a bitterly cold winter – even if only in the 2D format of a digital collage. As I combined my photographs of seashells, dried seaweed, water, acrylic painting and lighting effects, an imagined beach began to form. Consequently, I was pleased to see the emergence of a sunrise within the shoreline itself. I am hoping this sunrise is an omen for us all to have an abundant and peaceful 2017.

What I learned at my art opening

Exhibit at Creative Coworking

Artist Betty Butler's art opening
Betty Butler opening September 2016, Creative Coworking gallery space

One nice thing about having an art opening is what I learned from you, the viewer. Some people asked about my Photoshop techniques. Others observing the beach motif asked if I came from Florida. Some folks commented that the pleasing color, movement and the perfect placement of the shells evoked a pleasurable walk along the beach; the way one would hope such a walk, indeed life, could be. While I had never thought about my digital collages in exactly this way, your questions and comments gave me a better understanding of how people are seeing and interpreting them. Thanks to you and my friends at Creative Coworking.

Award in photography from Light Space & Time Gallery

I am pleased to announce an award in photography from the SeaScapes Art Exhibit sponsored by Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery, based in Jupiter Florida. The gallery invited artists to submit work that captured imagery relating to the sea in any way. The exhibit was juried by the accomplished photographer, John R. Math; hence I consider the award quite an honor. The exhibit runs through November 2016.

Art print Blue Beach
Award winner, Blue Beach, Photo collage

 

Artist Interview

A Dialogue with Creative Coworking

Art print of a digital collage of painting and photography
© Betty Butler, Starfish Portrait, Art Print, 12” x 12”

As we approach the opening of September 2016 Wine & Art Night at Creative Coworking, I would like to present a condensed version of the artist interview they did with me. I thought the questions were quite thoughtful, so here goes:

What sparked your initial interest in creating art?

I have been drawing and making things since I was young child. Luckily, I had parents that encouraged my creativity.

How would you describe your style?

For each art print, I blend my own painting and photography into a digital collage. In my current series, an imaginary beach is populated by starfish, sand dollars, sea urchins and seashells. In this invented world, vivid color drawn from my acrylic painting and resembling the northern lights, flows across these sea creatures.

Who are your influences?

Early in my college art education, I attended a large exhibit of the paper cut-out collages of French artist, Henri Matisse. I was struck by the bright color, movement and fanciful composition of his dancers, leaves and sea creatures. I also very much appreciate the close-up, stylized interpretations of nature by painter Georgia O’Keeffe.

What are your opinions on the Evanston/Chicago art community? How do you see your work in relation to this community?

The Evanston/Chicago art community is vibrant and varied. Additionally, I experience the Evanston art community in particular as friendly and welcoming of local talent. I am honored to be part of this community and exhibiting at Creative Coworking.                                                   

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions/plans/projects?

I would love to exhibit in a traditional or alternative health care center. Viewers have observed that my work has a calming and meditative quality.

Are there particular motifs/themes/symbols that you are fond of using in your work?

I am drawn to curvilinear forms found in nature. These can be seashells/waves, botanical forms or clouds. I often add a patterning motif to create movement and visual excitement. 

View the entire interview here.

Let’s collaborate

art print,beach art,colorful art,starfish,nature,photomontage
© Betty Butler, Blue Beach, Art Print, 12” x 12”

Creative minds working together remind me of the many starfish dancing on the beach among the brilliant colors in my new art print. Like the act of collaboration itself, this digital collage consists of several layers: photography, digital manipulation of acrylic painting and other effects. This past weekend I stopped by the July Art & Wine event at Creative Coworking, Evanston, IL. It is a friendly, supportive, shared office space, where there is always a rotating display of vibrant work by local artists. I am honored to be showing my art there in September.

Save the date: my art prints will be on display at Creative Coworking, Friday September 16, 2016!

Patterns in nature

© Betty Butler, Sea and Sky, Photo montage, patterns in nature
© Betty Butler, Sea and Sky, Photo montage

I am always searching for the unifying patterns in nature, whether it is the spiraling design of a seashell, the petals of a flower or magnificent formations of clouds. As an artist, I take joy in these visual treasures. In my art prints, I interpret the rhythms, colors and patterns in nature. I incorporate and organize these elements in pleasing, yet surprising ways.

Patterns in art

In my art print below, one can observe a galaxy of pattern on three starfish. They are nestled on an imagined beach among naturally purple seashells. In this invented world, bright colors, drawn from my acrylic painting, and resembling the northern lights, blend with these sea creatures.

© Betty Butler, Ocean Lights, art print,patterns in nature
© Betty Butler, Ocean Lights, art print of blended of painting and photography