Art for the Environment: Seattle exhibitions exploring the natural world

Conscious of the environment and the problematic choices we are making concerning it, an increasing number of artists are expressing their views about our uncertain relationship with nature. Seattle in particular has been a long supporter of the green movement, and their art scene is a clear reflection of that. Already one of the most sustainable cities in the United States, Seattle is on track towards becoming one of the most sustainable cities in the world. Seattle’s Climate Action Plan, which focuses on actions to reduce the city’s greenhouse emissions, has been implemented since 2013 and just last month, Seattle won the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge, gaining valuable funding to further advance their green movement.

As Seattle’s green initiatives are growing, more and more art advocating the environment has been produced by Seattle artists. Galleries in the Emerald city have also begun to feature more exhibitions exploring our volatile relationship with the environment. From sculpture to collage, here are a few artists and exhibitions in Seattle that will make you question our current state of environmental affairs.


In the photo: Siren by Marie Watt. Reclaimed wool blanket & embroidery floss. Photo Credit: Marie Watt

Exhibition: Companion Species Calling Companion Species

Greg Kucera Gallery

11 Sep – 23 Oct 2018

Inspired by nature, protofeminism and indigenous Iroquois principles, Marie Watt explores the interaction of history with the intimacy of memory through her art. Her use of materials is guided by her narrative—Watt takes commonplace objects and materials that are tied to nature and personal significance, like woollen blankets and cedar and explores the stories connected to them. Her fourth solo exhibition at the Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle, Companion Species Calling Companion Species focuses on humankind’s cultural relationship with the natural world. Animals, and dogs in particular, are portrayed as first teachers and mythological guides to express the reciprocal connection we have with nature and each other.


In the photo: Crescent Beach by Mary Iverson. Acrylic, ink & collage. Photo credit: Mary Iverson

Exhibition: CONFLUENCE

Treason Gallery

4 Oct – 17 Nov 2018

Seattle-based artist Mary Iverson examines the relationship between the natural world and industrial activity in her paintings. Inspired by her hometown of Seattle and Washington state’s beautiful national parks, her work spurs dialogue regarding the causes and consequences of climate change. Treason Gallery’s October solo exhibition, CONFLUENCE, is an entirely new body of work from the artist discussing the effects of climate change and consumerism on the environment. Iverson’s work is characterised by intricate, grid-like lines which she carves into canvases using a blade, creating hidden undercurrents symbolic of the negative effects of climate change.


In the photo: Gyre by Raven Skyriver. Offhand blown glass. Photo credit: Raven Skyriver

Exhibition: Confluence

Stonington Gallery

1 Nov – 30 Nov 2018

Raised in the San Juan islands, Tlingit artist Raven Skyriver has always been inspired by the water. Discovering the art of glassblowing at sixteen, Skyriver aims to always capture the essence of the creatures he creates, commenting on the delicate balance of nature that he believes we often take for granted. His new solo exhibition at the Stonington Gallery, titled Confluence, focuses on the wildlife and ecosystems that exist in areas of confluence, where salt water meets fresh water and life converges. The concept of confluence also highlights the idea that we are at a crux as a civilisation – the tipping point with regards to climate change and the loss of species due to the environment becoming less habitable for these beautiful animals. Through working in teams of 3 to 10 people, Skyriver carefully sculpts intricate details while the glass is molten, creating incredibly life-like works of art.

My work is almost exclusively derived from the marine ecosystem. I attempt to place the creatures back in their environment by capturing the fluid nature in molten glass and transferring it into the perceived weightlessness of a swimming creature.

-Raven Skyriver, Glass Artist


In the photo: The Western Mystery by Spencer Finch. Suspended Glass Panels. Photo Credit: Lisson Gallery

Installation: The Western Mystery

Seattle Art Museum

1 Apr 2017 – 3 Mar 2019

Renowned for his unique approach to light and colour, Spencer Finch is inspired by natural light and landscapes. Influenced by poet Emily Dickinson, Finch explores tangible perceptions of natural phenomena. His latest installation at the Seattle Art Museum, The Western Mystery, features multi-coloured glass panels, suspended to create an abstraction of a sunset. Based on sunsets photographed in Seattle over the Puget Sound, the installation is a nebula of coloured glass that mimics the movement of natural light while still being dependent on it, demonstrating our relationship with the environment.

About the Author /

Born in Singapore, Dyanna Sandhu currently lives in London. A graduate of Comparative Literature and Linguistics, she believes that communication and compassion are fundamental. She loves adventure and is passionate about art and travel.

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