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Sustainability on Display at Museum of Art

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Chris Jordan, “Cans Seruat”, 2007. pigmented ink-jet print, 60 x 92 in., courtesy of Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles.
Chris Jordan, “Cans Seruat” (fine detail). Depicts 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the United States every thirty seconds.

The exhibit “Chris Jordan: Running the Numbers” that opens at the Museum of Art on Jan. 28 is one of those shows that convinces us art is more than visual. Jordan’s photographs make people think about how they consume.

The Seattle-based artist uses large-scale digital images to depict mass consumption and waste. Jordan has been called "the 'it' artist of the Green Movement." His photograph of the Georges Pierre Seurat painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” shows 400,000 plastic bottle caps--the average number of plastic bottles consumed in the United States every minute. Another photograph depicts 100,000,000 toothpicks, representing the number of trees cut in the United States annually to make paper for junk mail.

"This large-format digital photography exhibition illuminates the consequences of some of our cultural choices, making visible what simple statistics cannot. The exhibit will provide an excellent opportunity for teaching, learning, and engagement across campus and beyond as it ties together issues of consumption and waste, public health, and social justice in ways that are imaginative, striking, and powerful," says Tom Kelly, UNH’s chief sustainability officer.

Jordan’s provocative images use the language of statistics to examine issues important to contemporary American culture through the depiction of specific quantities of something tangible—the number of cell phones retired each day or the number of plastic bottles used in the United States every five minutes, for example. By translating these numbers into photographs, he asks viewers to question their responsibilities in a society that is based increasingly on consumption.

The exhibit opens with a preview reception on Friday, Jan. 27, from 5-7 p.m. A second exhibit “What's New: Recent Additions to the Collection”also opens Jan. 28. Both exhibits continue through April 4.

“What's New: Recent Additions to the Collection” showcases 19 drawings, paintings, prints, and sculpture, by renowned regional and national artists. The works have been recently acquired by the Museum of Art to enhance its permanent collection. Featured artists include: Sigmund Abeles, Ben Aronson, Christopher Barnes, Todd Bartel, Ilya Bolotowsky, Larry Dinkin, Audrey Flack, Johnny Friedlander, Avra Leordas, Marilyn Levin, John Matos, Maud Cabot Morgan, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Alfred Potter, Louis C. Rosenberg, Ernest P. Roth, Daniel K. Tennant, Victor Vasarely, and Karl Zerbe.

Ben Aronson, “Closed Ramp” 2007, etching with 4 intaglio plates, AP, 20 7/8" x 23 1/2", collection of the Museum of Art, 2009.6.1,

In conjunction with “Chris Jordan: Running the Numbers” the Museum of Art and the UNH Sustainability Academy are conducting a student image and video contest titled “What Sustainability Means to Me.” Students are being challenged to create thought-provoking videos and images showcasing the sustainability commitment and actions UNH students are undertaking.

Upcoming ArtBreak programs offered at the Museum of Art include a discussion with Tom Kelly and Doug Bencks, university architect and director of campus planning Wednesday, Feb. 8, noon; an artist talk by New Hampshire eco-artist and photographer Tim Gaudreau Wednesday, Feb. 15, noon; a gallery talk by Kristina Durocher, Museum of Art director, Wednesday, Feb. 22, noon; a family day program during school vacation week; and a video presentation by winners of the “What Does Sustainability Mean to Me?” contest Wednesday, March 21, noon.

“Chris Jordan: Running the Numbers” is co-sponsored by the UNH Sustainability Academy and the Museum of Art, with additional support from the Carsey Institute, the Center for the Humanities, the Office of Inclusive Excellence Initiatives, and the Office of the Provost. All works are courtesy of Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles.

The Museum of Art is open during the academic year Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 1-5 p.m.; closed Fridays, university holidays, and March 9 – 18.Guided group tours for schools and other organizations are available with advance reservation by contacting Catherine A. Mazur, education and publicity coordinator, at catherine.mazur@unh.edu or 2-3713.

For more information, contact the Museum of Art at 2-3712, museum.of.art@unh.edu, or visit www.unh.edu/moa.

Daniel K. Tennant, “For LKM” 2002, gouache on paper, 18 ½” x 26 ½”, collection of the Museum of Art, 2009.5.6