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REDUCE: exhibit at Lex Leonard Gallery

Jul 1, 2007


“Reduce, recycle, reuse: It’s not just a motto for garbage. What about some of that mental haze that keeps repeating inside that brain of yours? What can you cut out, transform and repurpose for your own good?” This was my horoscope reading for June 29, 2007 by Mark Lerner of Astrology.com.  The state of our affairs have inaugurated these new three R’s. What Lerner describes as a motto for garbage, he remarks implicitly, should be a mantra for us. Al Gore did An Inconvenient Truth. Since then we have become inundated with debate about global warming, new energy initiatives, adaptable technology, and pollution. Even the food we eat has become scrutinized. We’ve become organic eaters. We drink Fiji. We are starting to take better care of ourselves in the midst of deterioration. But by the time you actually spot a problem is it too late? We need to take better care of the planet Earth. The first step is recognizing it as a living organism, the second step is to readjust the objectifying pronoun “it.” I wonder what will art’s role be in this? Will there be a ressurgance in pastoral poetry? Can art be instrumental in creating a methodology for conservation that goes beyond the mere awareness campaign? Can art be innovative in addressing ecology? Well? Tag. Your it!

Below you will read about an exhibition event fusing the gallery and the boutique, consumerism and advocacy. Solutions should be grounded, accessable, and specific, like this one. A new venture, Bag the Habit, proposes the elimination of plastic bags and the use of reusable eco-friendly totes. I was one of 11 artists invited to design a Bag the Habit tote that was auctioned at the gallery opening reception. The exhibit is showing at the Lex Leonard Gallery in Jersey City. There will be a closing reception with a silent auction on July 13 with more limited-edition artist-designed totes for sale. Below is a press release with more information about the event and the idea behind it.

I am not a visual artist, so being a writer, I invoked the medium of writing with Curator Nyugen Smith’s guidance and suggestions. Complete with Composition notebook stylings, I wrote an excerpt of dialogue between two characters, a student and the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. In red, I commented on the work as a teacher would. I subsequently gave myself an A+. Here is my artist statement about the bag and my design:

Ancient Greek philosophers were among the first to question the nature of “reality.” They asked questions like, “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose?” We have come up with interpretive answers, plausible answers, but still seek Truth. Here, complete with a shout out to Mead composition notebooks and surrealist doodles, I play with the nature of school and learning, implicity learning about the world and my (your) place in it. I do not know the nature of reality, I only know nature is real, and it is fragile, and my purpose should be in preserving it to ensure my continuous privledge of hypothetical inquiry. Nature preservation is self-preservation. -Angela Kariotis, ”Introduction to Philosophy”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                 JERSEY CITY ART EXHIBIT EXAMINES ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE AND HELPS LAUNCH NEW PRODUCT
Bag the Habit’s reusable shopping bags are creatively presented in an effort to raise awareness and encourage use

Jersey City, NJ - Bag the Habit unveils its first reusable shopping bag in a month-long art exhibition exploring the environmental repercussions of common consumer behaviors. The show will run from June 14th to July 14th at Lex Leonard Gallery in Downtown Jersey City, 143 Christopher Colombus Drive. Along with Bag the Habit’s signature tote, a limited edition line of bags created by recognized artists and designers will be for sale. The proceeds of the latter will be donated New York City’s Gaia Institute. Paper and plastic disposable bags are a hot topic among environmentalists, and more recently legislators, due to the damaging ecological effects of both their manufacture and disposal and the excessive rate at which they are consumed. 500 billion to 1 trillion are used worldwide each year, with the US responsible for an estimated 100 billion (reusablebags.com).

The show, titled REDUCE, highlights the impact of single-use bags as well as other disposables similar in method of production and volume, such as cups, napkins and plastic utensils. Through symbolic works, informational displays and short film, the exhibit brings attention to the items we habitually overuse, and often overlook, on a daily basis.
By combining the functions of “store” and “gallery”, the creative team (Curator Nyugen Smith, Holly Tienken of Design Grace and Bag the Habit’s Liz Long) hopes to promote more thoughtful consumerism. “Helping people understand the true value of a product is not what conventional stores are known for”, says Smith. “We are creating a new kind of retail model”. Long adds, “As people accept the fundamental importance of reduction, their buying habits will change. They’ll avoid wasteful products and by-products and the demand for responsible, low-impact choices will grow. The disposable culture won’t survive.”

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