Meatless Mondays are not the only way Yale is promoting sustainability.
“Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock,” an environmentally-focused Yale School of Art exhibition at the Green Hall Gallery on Chapel Street, held a reception last night that featured performances by several undergraduate student organizations. Over 30 students, faculty and local community members attended the event. Organized by Sam Messer, associate dean of the School of Art, the exhibition first opened on Oct. 6. Messer said the exhibition was inspired by a request from University President Peter Salovey that asked Yale’s professional schools to devise plans that focus on making their practices more sustainable.
“It’s really hard for the School of Art to have a sustainability plan because of the nature of the school and our funding,” Messer said. “Everyone was asked what they could do, so I said we could do what we do, which is making things and putting it out there in the world.”
Messer said that in past years, the School of Art has hosted an annual fall show called “Making Due,” which focuses on artists working at the School of Art for roughly one week and making original creations on site. In this case, he noted, the exhibition was created to inspire students and faculty to think about ways in which they can use sustainable materials to create eco-friendly art.
One prominently featured piece in the exhibition is a collection of wood scraps that Messer collected from a nearby dumpster. Messer said he cut the scraps into letters that spell out the words “Wake up, you’re dreaming” to urge viewers to consider the environmental impact of their actions. Other pieces include a poster titled “I Am Afraid” by Emily Lessard ART ’04, which was originally made in response to the Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore. Messer said he chose to include the poster in the show because he thought its message was applicable to many current situations.
Martha Tuttle ART ’15 said she believes that many disciplines, including the visual arts, can take practical and meaningful actions that promote sustainability, adding that her own work reflects her attention to environmentally-related topics.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about our understanding of matter and material in terms of the ways we act ecologically and the separation between us, matter and the human world,” Tuttle said. “For most works here, the question that comes up is how can we live in our world.”
In addition to works by students and faculty members, the exhibition features art by various residents of the local community, as artists outside of Yale were also allowed to submit work. On one wall, there is a dress sewn by 11-year-old Loretti Goodall out of recycled clothing, while another wall displays a series of photographs submitted by New Haven photographers.
Art professor Brent Howard said that while much of what the School of Art showcases is two-dimensional, many of the exciting aspects in the exhibition come from the incorporation of three-dimensional works.
“I’m really excited about … the different environments that the work draws from,” Brent said. “This is kind of a chance to showcase those parts and remnants of what is around us in the environment.”
Melissa Goodall, associate director of the Yale Office of Sustainability, said she thought the exhibition was a potent example of the relationship between sustainability and art. Art is a powerful tool in understanding sustainability and helping people to connect, she noted.
Duncan Goodall ’95 said he enjoyed the exhibition because he believed the featured artwork was open to a vast range of possible interpretations.
The exhibition is named after Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock, a game invented by Sam Kass and Karen Bryla.