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Sustaining environmental interest through art

MELANIE CHERY Special to the AmNews | 5/9/2012, 6:05 p.m.
Sustaining environmental interest through art

Vibrant works of art call from the walls of the Skylight Gallery at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration, where the exhibition "Amplify Action: Sustainability Through the Arts" recently opened to the public. The important and impressive show is presented in conjunction with the Pratt Center for Community Development.

Issues of sustainability have been on the rise due to both environmental and economic factors. Rasu Jilani of the Pratt Center and Jacqui Woods of the Skylight hope that "Amplify Action," as implied by its title, makes the maintenance of an eco-friendly environment a top-of-the-chart discussion on the local scene.

Roberto de Jesus, who has focused on sustainability through his art for three years now, knows firsthand how to attract people to important issues. "We need a fun way to bring people into serious material," said de Jesus. His work "Armor of the Green Guardian," made of discarded detergent bottles, exhibited just that.

Asian artist YK Hong is displaying a piece from her "DoJang" series in this show. "DoJang" depicts in a magnified form what would be Korean signatures. Made from wood and cultivated from the earth, her piece quietly emphasizes the

repurposing of material while making a poignant point: "We are what we see."

Among the other ingenious works in the exhibition is one featuring plastic bags braided into a window treatment, providing a new outlook on trash, and shoes, with blood hues symbolizing the blood, sweat and tears shed in sweatshops. This art inspires viewers to be cognizant of the reality of modern times.

Creative approaches to cultivating awareness help to engage residents of changing communities in a unified fashion. Artists and visitors alike agreed that "Amplify Action" can be a catalyst for change. One art lover said such exhibitions can be "part of the work of shifting consciousness on a local level...I think when we pair it with and engage it with people who are making the important decisions, it can be great!" Innovative thinkers paired with policymakers...a thought-provoking statement and not a bad idea to help encourage and actually apply social change.

A recent "Amplify Action" workshop brought educators to the gallery for a fun evening session teaching both stitching and embroidery techniques and how to create sculpture with repurposed materials. A free quilting workshop is scheduled for the near future as well.

"Amplify Action: Sustainability Through the Arts" runs through mid-July and you don't want to miss it. The Skylight Gallery is located at 1368 Fulton St., Brooklyn.

For more information, visit ampifyaction.org. Call the Skylight Gallery at (718) 636-6949 or the Pratt Center (718) 687-5671. The gallery is open Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m.