Print juried into Pennsylvania photography exhibit

Print juried into Pennsylvania Center for Photography exhibit
Throw Away Ocean, Digital Collage Art print, 2017

I am honored to have been juried into a photography exhibit at the Pennsylvania Center for Photography, in Doylestown PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. The exhibit, November 1 – 17, 2019, was entitled Transformations. Throwaway Ocean (above) was included in the section called “Unlimited Exhibition.” This means that an artist was allowed to employ any type of digital process imaginable.

Freaky Halloween snowstorm!

Print wins entry into photography exhibit
Betty Butler, Polar Vortex, Digital Collage, 2019

Halloween really was scary in Chicago this year, but not because the children were disguised as monsters and goblins. It was frightening to observe so few of the trick-or-treaters out and about due to an early snowstorm. The leaves still clung to their branches, even as white powder clung to them. By Veterans Day November 11, it snowed again, and Arctic cold surged as far south as Florida. Yes, our climate is changing, but on the other hand, not randomly.

A study in Nature Communications, March 13, 2018, reported that warm arctic episodes are linked with increased frequency of extreme winter weather in the United States. This happened last winter when, in late January 2019, a severe cold wave hit the Midwestern United States.

Polar Vortex (above) is part of my series that illustrates stronger climate events, such as floods, drought, and, blizzards. These, can bring havoc upon our way of life.

The art of buying Greenland

Greenland digital art
© Betty Butler, Global Effect, Digital Collage, 2017

Greenland has been in the news quite a bit lately. After Europe’s heatwave of 2019 spread north, Greenland’s ice sheet experienced a significant melting event. The result was that much of the island’s ice has turned to slush. As rivers of water pour into the ocean, a NASA Study predicts more long-term sea-level rise from Greenland ice. Then curiously, our President decided it would be an excellent time to broker a deal with Denmark to buy its autonomous territory of Greenland. Of course, the Danish Prime Minister declared the idea absurd.

Could anything be more ludicrous? Could our planet be in any more danger?

Global Effect (above) is abstract, but in some ways, it reminds me of the shapes on a world atlas. This digital collage is composed of manipulated photos from the ocean, beach, and one of my paintings. These images of earth and its patterns bring together my appreciation of nature and on-going concern with climate change as a global problem.   

New work accepted into Palm Springs gallery

Greenland ice melting
© Betty Butler, Searching for Food, Digital Collage, 2019

 I was honored to be accepted as an Exhibition Finalist in a show entitled Lines, Shapes & Objects. The gallery, named Fusion Art, is located in Palm Springs, California.  It is a brick and mortar, as well as an online gallery. The accepted work, Searching For Food (above) is part of my current series on nature and climate change. The exhibit was online through August 10, 2019.

New images illustrate populations forced to move

As the warming climate changes our planet in unexpected ways, there will be populations forced to move. Some migrations will be due to the ocean rising and reclaiming everything from beachfront property to island nations. Some people will be forced to move north as the heat simply makes living unbearable. Other populations will be on the move, as their food production decreases, due to the desertification of once fertile land.

Desertification is the process by which dry, but usable areas, are transformed into a desert. Desertification is not a new phenomenon, having in the past been precipitated by overgrazing and land exhaustion due to poor farming techniques. But one of the major causes of desertification in the 20th-21st centuries is probably climate change. Global warming foments the droughts and forest fires which degrade fertile land. When productive farming areas dry up, people move from rural to urban centers. These migrations into the cities often cause large numbers of unemployed people.

For these digital collages, I used photography from my travels and closer to home, to depict various global environments. In addition, I was recently able to photograph groups of people that I used as silhouettes and patterns, to illustrate the experience of population upheaval.

populations forced to move
© Betty Butler, Searching for Food, 2019

Daffodils and warming oceans

Temperature Rising, Betty Butler, Digital collage, 2017

Yes, we in the Midwest U.S. are looking forward to the lifting of this long cold winter. In anticipation of spring, I am posting a photograph of beautiful daffodils that will be blooming soon.

In spite of a cold start to March 2019, the Journal of Advances in Atmospheric Sciences reports that 2018 was the hottest year on record for the oceans. They state that this warming is due to human activity. Of course, warming oceans mean shrinking polar ice, rising sea levels, and coastal flooding.

photograph of daffodils

Daffodils will be blooming soon.

Temperature Rising (top) is a visual commentary on global warming. I wrote in a blog for Artists and Climate Change that for me, “this image became an amalgamation of earth and sun, with the sun clearly encroaching on the available space. I started with a photograph of waves in the cobalt-blue Gulf of Mexico. With a photo-manipulation program, I inverted the ocean, and it stunningly became a bright yellow-gold. Inversion is the equivalent to reversing a color photograph to that of a negative. I found it interesting that the yellow-orange area bears some resemblance to sunspots and the bright areas (faculae) that surround them.

As an artist, I am fascinated with the patterns repeated in nature, from the spots on seashells, to similar spots on leopards. The photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of newly forming stars in the ‘Pillars of Creation’ could be mistaken for exaggerated cumulonimbus clouds that accompany earthly thunderstorms. If these visual patterns are connected, aren’t all creatures and systems similarly bonded and worthy of concern?”

Getting back to our weariness of winter, when the daffodils do bloom, I hope you enjoy them. I know I will.

Flowers shine a light on energy concerns

This new image visually contrasts flowers and the aging technology of the electrical grid. These flowers, although thin and wiry like the transmission lines, are animated and lively. By comparison, the towers appear to be an ancient construct. As the window for preventing dramatic climate warming closes, the energy transmitted through the grid continues to be produced by a 63% blend of fossil fuel and nuclear, rather than environmentally friendly renewable sources.

The electric grid in its current state brings to mind the over year-long recovery of Puerto Rico from the destruction of category five Hurricane Maria. The island grid was almost totally destroyed. The power has not yet been restored to all of its citizens. Puerto Rico, vulnerable to storms, is also rich in renewable sources such as wind, solar, water, and biomass. Still, with our current laws, FEMA is required to restore power to match the destroyed system exactly as it was.  And so, the government is currently rebuilding the grid without updates. Tall towers are being built in inaccessible areas such as mountain tops in favor of more manageable local grids fueled by solar or wind. In addition, the importing of expensive fossil fuel needs to continue.

In spite of these FEMA requirements, philanthropists and private companies have come in to help. They donated roof-top solar systems, which form small renewable grids. This technology has helped some neighborhoods regain their electricity. While Puerto Rico’s energy problems and recovery are an extreme example of lack of economic and environmental foresight, I hope that we as a nation can learn from these missteps.

Do seahorses have horsepower?

Seahorses are magical fish that seemingly float up and down, back and forth, and gracefully twist and tumble through their watery world. These dancers of the sea achieve their swimming power from one constantly moving dorsal fin.

On a visit to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois, I observed these social creatures swimming in pairs. They gathered in groups, using their curly tails to cling to sea grass. Did you know that the male of the species carries the babies during gestation?

These beautiful creatures served as an inspiration for my latest digital collages. In the first print, I silhouetted the seahorses and then filled them with cars, packed in traffic. The name of the work, Horsepower, is a play on words between our vehicles, their carbon emissions, and the affected seahorses.

Like all marine life, seahorses are experiencing changes brought about by our warming planet. Much of the atmosphere’s heat and carbon dioxide are absorbed by the ocean like a sponge. Therefore, the climbing temperature is eroding their shallow tropical water habitat of sea grass and coral. In addition, excess carbon contributes to ocean acidification, which causes their bony structure to lose strength. Other hazards include: getting caught in fishing gear and being harvested for traditional medicine and souvenirs.

Celebrating marine life

sea horses
Betty Butler, Colorful Seahorses, 2018

In order to celebrate seahorses and all aquatic life, I was moved to create a companion art print that was fun and colorful. It uses many of the same graphic elements as the first digital collage. Rather than cars, I filled the silhouetted animals with bright colors. In a bit of good news, Starbucks and McDonald’s are intending to switch from single-use plastic to paper straws by 2020. This is because of consumer demand. It feels good to know that the public can make a difference to reduce the tide of our environmental problems.

The universe in a flower

The sight of cone flowers is common in the Midwest, but I never really saw their essence until an October afternoon in Door County Wisconsin. I was taken by their autumnal presence – void of vibrant color, yet tall, with prominent, round, spiky heads. Photographs of these skeletal flowers would become subject matter for some of my digital collages.

 

Digital collage of photography
© Betty Butler Purple Oak, 2012

For my latest collage, Ocean Flower, (top) I have silhouetted the flowers and filled them with the colorful blues and greens of sky, water and botanical life. Finally, I added photographic hints of ocean waves. The ocean within a flower brings to mind the water cycle: a process through which water and water vapor rise from plants and bodies of water, into the atmosphere, and back to earth again in the form of rain or snow.

For me, these flowers, depicted in this way, embody a world or a universe. Besides, these frail flowers, seen at the end of their growing season, contain the seeds – the very life source – for their next generation. We humans are also the guardians of future generations. As the oceans warm and expand, glaciers melt and sea levels rise to engulf coastal regions, we must all concern ourselves with our future world, our universe.

                                                                                                                                         

The fate of flowers and other living things

Who doesn’t appreciate the beauty of flowers? Their bright colors and enchanting scents attract insects and humans alike. The curving lines and multiple patterns of flowers invite me to utilize them as subject matter for my art. Why then, for this new art print, have  I borrowed the title of Pete Seeger’s enduring anti-war anthem, Where have all the Flowers Gone?

In an ironic twist, the meaning for my art is different, but no less dire. Instead of all the flowers finally going to graveyards, my collage portrays tulips fading and being swallowed by the ocean. It also incorporates a severe color palette of pink, black and gray. Therefore, it asks the question, what will happen to the flowers, fields, and coastal cities as the sea rises to claims them?

Two prints win entry into Colorado Environmental Photography Exhibition

art print
©Betty Butler, Throw Away Ocean

art print
©Betty Butler, Coral Grief

I am delighted to be part of the 9th Annual Environmental Photography Exhibition, held in conjunction with the 2018 Colorado Environmental Film Festival in Golden, Colorado. It is a worldwide curated photography exhibition. Like the Film Festival itself, the Photography Exhibition hopes to represent the shared visions of world communities that are concerned about environmental issues.

Opening Reception: February 23, 2018 – 5:30-7:30 PM

 

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