By Merle Exit
For many artists putting their works on display in Long Island City, art and protecting the planet are inseparable.
Marlene and James Yu own and manage the Rainforest Art Foundation in LIC and part of their mission to feature artists who support their cause.
Marlene, originally from Taiwan, is an internationally-known artist. While travelling around the world exhibiting her own paintings, Marlene has had the opportunity to meet fellow artists, many of whom have works pertaining to environmentalism.
Six artists from across the globe were featured at the 3rd Annual exhibition, “Nature in Art,” including: Maria Faba Fouret, Grace Ge, Eva Csanyi-Hurskin, Silke Konschak, Ilse Schreiber-Noll, and Helga Schuhr. Four of the artists attended the March 2 opening reception.
Over four decades ago Marlene had a one-person art display at the Musee d’art et d’Histoire in Neuchatel, Switzerland, where she met a local artist, Helga Schuhr, and visited her studio. Schuhr introduced Marlene to Galerie Wilde in Frankfurt, Germany, where Marlene had three one-person shows in 1996, 1997 and 2014. Last year, Helga had a presentation in Beacon, N.Y., and she invited Schuhr to participate in the “Nature in Art” exhibition.
Three of her paintings, “Blurry Roots,” “Lakeside I II,” and “Sandbanks III, flaunt Schur’s passion for the subject matter.
“I work with blue and green because I live in a part of the country close to the lake, an area that is a force of nature,” Schuhr said. “This is a way of translating my feelings.”
Schuhr, who also paints in 3-D, said that having many styles directs her talent toward the particular art exhibits.
“I hope that with viewing these paintings it will help people think about preserving the planet,” she said.
Ge, a Queens resident, had five paintings on display under the title, “Water Color on Paper.”
“Painting is a sacred task that can cleanse one’s soul: it is a universal act that belongs to the people,” Ge said. “It helps me prevail over difficulties in life, and with cleansed eyes, learn to discover and find the beauty of natural life.”
Working in this field, she couples her love of nature with her talent for painting flowers using watercolor.
“I am inspired by the shapes of the flowers and how they bloom,” she said, adding that much of her inspiration comes from places like the Queens Botanical Garden.
German-born Schrieber-Noll, who lives and works in Peekskill, N.Y., presented two paintings at the event. “Trees Are Sanctuaries,” is a three-piece mixed media displayed on linen. “The Storm,” is a mixed-media piece displayed on canvas.
She has a Langston Hughes poem, “Save The Dream/Save our Planet,” painted on the linen as a motto for “Trees Are Sanctuaries.”
“I am a deeply committed advocate for peace,” she said.
Her other work depicts the “terrors of war and the threat of ecological disaster.”
Konschak, also from Germany, had two series of artwork on display.
One group of paintings is entitled, “Water.” Of these she writes, “The rain scans through the woods near the Amazon deep soil, leaf and earth. Water falls out of the clouds brightly. Trunk by trunk it runs towards the darkness. Secret of existence. Fathomed , Studied, Experience, Eternity. A kiss of the elixir. Within a heart of the world Protection. Finding. I remain forever green in place.”
An X-ray installation of “Under And Up the Ground,” is displayed on another wall. Konschak used X-ray film as her canvas. Some years back, friends in Germany brought her a stack of X-rays as a possible idea for her artwork. Konschak said she decided to paint them in order to turn a possible negative into a positive.
“Now, I do the X-rays as part of nature,” she said. “I test them with different pigments and painting materials, including oils and acrylics.” She has also written four books that include both her art and poems.
Fouret, from France, used oil on canvas for her stunning piece, “Rainforest 2006.” At first glance, the painting appears to be the top of someone’s head with a background of a forest. The hair, however, is composed of hundreds of long-stemmed flowers and each eye depicts a frog in a pond.
“The idea is to present a vision and modern materials,” Fouret said. “Without these materials, we wouldn’t be able to express ourselves, imagine a world without a rainforest.”
Csanyi-Hurskin is an Australian transplant whose paintings focus on birds from around the world, including sulphur-crested cockatoos and blue gold macaws, both using colored pencil. Her works stem from her life-long love and appreciation of animals.
“During the process, I develop an intimacy with my subjects and grant them new status, giving the viewer a very different and new perspective on everyday objects, events and people, which are mostly overlooked,” Huskin said.
The exhibition will remain on display at the Rainforest Art Foundation, located at 36-58 37th Ave., through April 4. Those interested in attending can stop by Tuesdays through Fridays, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.