‘Less Is More’ in Aspen
CMC students, staff, faculty express what sustainability means to them
By, Carrie Click
At a time when more people are talking about sustainability and reducing humans’ impact on the environment, an upcoming exhibit at Colorado Mountain College in Aspen is focusing on these principles through artistic interpretation.
In “Less Is More: Sustainable Art and New Media in a Culture of Excess,” exhibit curator and Colorado Mountain College art instructor K Rhynus Cesark has gathered nonjuried work from approximately 25 Colorado Mountain College students, faculty and staff from throughout the college’s nine-county service area.
Colorado Mountain College offers a bachelor’s degree in sustainable studies at several campuses, though the exhibit’s contributors come from not only those locations but from other campuses as well.
“We have participants from Aspen, Spring Valley, Rifle, Steamboat, Leadville and Breckenridge,” said Rhynus. “This call for entries has encouraged dialogue between students and faculty, and faculty to faculty, [about] creating work that is sustainable with regards to the materials and practices used, as well as the concepts that the artwork addresses.”
‘Range of interpretations’
In the initial call for entries for the exhibit, Rhynus posed the question, “What does it look like to live simply and with less in our culture of ‘more’?” Participants have answered this question through their artwork, and also through a written explanation about how their work addresses the “less is more” question.
“There’s a broad range of interpretation,” Rhynus said of the submitted work and the writing.
There are black-and-white photos: one of a sparse landscape with more sky than land, and one of Costa Rican children standing in line in a slum with plates and spoons in their hands, and another of a diner wearing a hazmat suit while eating at a fast food restaurant. There’s a sculpture made from dog bones, a wreath made of plastic toys.
Christine Anderson, a painting instructor known for her large-scale figurative paintings, submitted a piece she calls “Plastic Fish Dinner,” of fish made of discarded plastic containers hanging from borrowed fishing poles leaning against one of the gallery’s walls.
“The theme pushed her to think outside her creative comfort zone,” Rhynus said. “I enjoy seeing artists push outside that zone.”
Excess in Aspen
Rhynus, who teaches at the college’s campus in Aspen, said she believes it’s an ideal place to present a show that delves into a “less is more” theme, even though some aspects of the area – such as enormous, expensive homes – can be materialistically excessive.
“I feel there are many Aspen residents who dedicate themselves and their businesses to address and adhere to the importance of sustainability,” Rhynus said. “I feel this concerns everyone, regardless of income bracket or demographics. To some this might seem like a contradiction in terms – hosting ‘Less Is More’ here in Aspen – but I don’t agree. I feel it’s a perfect fit.”
“Less Is More: Sustainable Art and New Media in a Culture of Excess” opens with a public reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Jan. 29 at Colorado Mountain College in Aspen, 255 Sage Way, at the Aspen Airport Business Center.
The show runs through March 31, though those who want to see the exhibit are strongly advised to call 925-7740 first to make sure a class or other event is not in session in the gallery. For additional information, contact Alice Beauchamp, CMC ArtShare director, at 947-8367 or visit cmcartshare.com.