With the global environment on the decline, it’s important to revere what’s left of nature and urge people to play a role in undoing as much damage as possible.
Works of Geneseo alumna Evelyn Kitson ’85 have the capacity to accomplish such actions. Kitson’s works were placed in the Kinetic Gallery on Nov. 17 during the Perennial Reflections opening reception sponsored by the Geneseo Campus Activities Board.
An appreciator of nature, Kitson uses it to construct her art as a rally cry to awaken people to the grim reality of climate change. She sewed dead leaves together over the course of many hours, and they are not only lovely in their own right, but remind one to take notice of the remaining natural beauty in the world around them.
The basis of Kitson’s art is fiber-composed fabric. She primarily uses wool, silk and cotton. Nature had a large influence on Kitson’s life, as she is a gardener as well as an artist, and takes the future of the environment very seriously.
“All of my processes, the dye pots, can go into the compost, so I’m growing a lot of the plant material or picking up dropped leaves from the yard to provide the color for the fabric,” Kitson said. “I’m calling it sustainable, really thinking about the environment. I think it’s really important to do that,”
The process of making her intricate art pieces is a lengthy one, but Kitson finds it satisfying. One step in the process involves indigofera—a plant that is used to create the indigo dye to color cloth—a method that predates back to before 2000 B.C., according to Kitson.
“I grow indigo plants, a kind that’s also grown in Japan, because that’s something that will grow in a temperate climate,” Kitson said. “The color comes from when I process the weeds to get the color, but you don’t get a lot of color from them because it’s a long, slow process.”
Another step in the creation includes making leaf and flower prints. Kitson wraps the leaves in fabric and simmers them in a dye pot where the heat, steam and pressure stick an imprint of color onto the leaves.
The hard work of making the pieces pays off. It feels as if the entire world is contained within each work. They’re the type of artwork that the viewer can become lost in, always finding a new detail about nature and its future to consider.
GCAB arts and exhibits coordinator senior Dowon Hwang was present for the exhibit and found the artwork incredibly alluring.
“I think they’re really cool and I appreciate how they’re sustainable,” Hwang said. “I know that in this environmental climate there’s a lot we can do as individuals and I appreciate this ecologically friendly art.”
It’s reassuring to know that great art can also be beneficial to the planet, spreading awareness of what can be done to help the environment and mourning what is already lost.