WAVE HILL SUNROOM PROJECT SPACE October 25–December 6, 2020 ZAC SKINNER Ecocide-Drifter
In the Sunroom, Zac Skinner’s installation of paintings and sculptures explores ecological history, the Anthropocene and a dystopic future—consequences of land and water pollution, industry, capitalism, and other threats that have caused the displacement of vulnerable individuals and entire ecosystems. As an artist, geo-engineer, and backyard tinkerer, Skinner creates an immersive installation of invented makeshift structures, such as a nomadic hut, that resembles a temporary refugee camp in a post-industrial landscape due to climate change. A juxtaposition of creativity and destruction, his sculptures also promote survival and a DIY aesthetic.
Within this barren landscape of a dried and cracked riverbed floor with riverbanks lining the space, Skinner’s sculptures utilize natural resources that are available, such as the sun, rain and wind. The structures’ surfaces are distressed and look wind- and sandblown. Skinner explains that they resemble “relics out of time and allude to predictions about global warming causing increasingly violent storms and desertification with which we will have to contend.” He posits that this situation will also cause a scarcity of resources and more climate refugees.
Skinner incorporates materials and specific plants for their unique properties. For instance, aluminum foil reflects solar radiation in a solar-cooker, and Aloe vera plants offer medicinal and healing properties as well as the ability to retain water. Resembling an assembly chain, one structure collects water that is used for the plants, and another sculpture is solar or wind-powered. Skinner also incorporates detritus into his installations. Part of his artistic practice is to walk along the shoreline of the Hudson River to clean up trash and selectively collect driftwood. Along the edges of the Sunroom, his paintings hang precariously from dead branches and driftwood, with evidence of the storms and currents embedded in its surfaces. Inspired by the Romantic sublime, yet subverting it with his post-apocalyptic subject matter, Skinner’s vividly colored paintings serve as sketches for structures and sculptures Zac Skinner’s recent exhibitions have been held at the Rockland Center for the Arts, West Nyack, NY; Garrison Art Center, Garrison, NY; The Gallery at the Ann Felton Multicultural Center, Syracuse, NY; Geo-Co-Lab, artist in residence exhibition at Matteawan Gallery, Beacon, NY; Unison Arts Center, New Paltz, NY; and CICA Museum, Seoul, South Korea, among others. Skinner holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and BFA from SUNY New Paltz College.
PUBLIC PROGRAM November 5, 2PM: Virtual Meet the Artist Organized by Curator of Visual Arts Eileen Jeng Lynch, the Sunroom Project Space provides an opportunity for New York-area emerging artists to develop a site-specific project to exhibit in a solo show. The artists participating in the 2020 season are, consecutively, Tiffany Jaeyeon Shin, Gracelee Lawrence and Zac Skinner.
WAVE HILL West 249 Street and Independence Avenue Bronx, NY 10471 718.549.3200 wavehill.org #wavehill #sunroomprojectspace
Garrison Art Center
23 Garrison’s Landing, Garrison, NY 10524
Gallery hours: Tues-Sun, 10AM - 5PM
Zachary Skinner finds beauty, humor, irony and playfulness in his use of cast-off materials and his otherwise dark depictions of survival in response to increasingly violent weather due to climate change. Anthropocene Drifter is a powerful exhibition of paintings and sculptures depicting the dystopian point of view of a nomad living in a future in which the Earth’s ecosystem has been all but destroyed. The large, interactive installation is variously constructed from recycled objects and other simple materials portraying a nomadic survival camp in the aftermath of a dysfunctional interdependence of man and nature. The viewer is invited to wander through this environment which takes us on a fictional journey. Included in the installation are live plants cultivated by imaginative techniques on structures that also function as shelters. Other functional structures generate solar power through the gallery windows. The intention of the artist is for visitors to assume the role of nomad/survivor and contemplate their own interdependence with the land.
The paintings in the exhibition reinforce the sculptures’ theme of new technologies that generate wind, hydro, or solar power as well as survivalist structures such as rafts and makeshift sailboats which through their precariousness reflect the fragile relationship between humanity and nature. The paintings also grapple with the relevance of the modern landscape. Using oil, acrylic, and mixed media, Skinner creates works that flow between authenticity and parody, fetishized forms and flatness, the Romantic sublime and post- apocalypse, invention and destruction. Paintings and sculptures can each stand alone, but together act as mutual supports for the intended narrative and create a kind of dialectical inquiry into the deeper existential questions of our time while addressing themes of humanity, ecology and sustainability.