Opening an exhibition that addresses environmental issues in April seems appropriate. The weather is warmer, people are spending more time outside and we celebrate Earth Day, but Islip Arts Museum’s spring exhibition Poison Play, which focuses on toxicity in the environment, came together for a different reason.
“This show formed organically because I had seen and worked with some of the artists before, and they just worked visually together,” curator Beth Giacummo said, adding “It’s good timing, though” with a laugh.
Unlike the Presidential hopefuls and pundits, who don’t beat around the bush when giving climate change solutions (or debating its existence), the four artists in Poison Play, Margaret DeLima, John Sabraw, Anne Seelbach and Scott McIntire, take a softer approach.
“All of the pieces in this exhibition are easy to connect to visually when you first see them,” Giacummo said. ”The work draws the viewer in and then allows them to delve deeper into the environmental issues, to think about what the artist is trying to tell them.”
Walk into Gallery III and you’ll see what Giacummo is talking about. The floor is filled with 500 papier-mâché ducks and is an early favorite for “Most Instagrammed Piece” of Poison Play. When you enter, you may be a bit scared to enter for fear of squashing the adorable little guys. That’s what artist Margaret DeLima was going for in the site-specific installation.
“We’re afraid to hurt animals, but in reality, we do,” Giacummo explained.
At the end of the exhibit, guests can adopt a duck for $50 and 10 percent of the proceeds will go to Farms Sanctuary, which seeks to protect farm animals from cruelty.
Like DeLima, Sabraw’s work pushes past the gallery walls. An Ohio native, Sabraw worked with scientists to take contaminants like iron oxide from abandoned coal mines and used them to make paint. He hopes to get the paints on the market and to be able to use proceeds to help clean up Ohio’s waters.
“He’s taking it from one step to the next, which is why I thought it was very important for him to be in the show,” Giacummo said. “I think people may be really inspired by John’s story of taking toxic sludge, creating something with it and starting an entire movement.”
Giacummo hopes Poison Play energizes guests to, like DeLima and Sabraw, take action.
“Hopefully it makes them more aware,” she said. “If people are aware then they can help fix it.”
If You Go:
When: Now through June 5, Thursdays and Fridays from 10am-4pm, Saturdays and Sundays from noon-4pm (Artist Reception Sunday, April 24 from 1-4pm)
Where: Islip Arts Museum, East Islip