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A study in clay of our fragile ecosystem at the IA Gallery

Island Arts Gallery, located in the conference room at the Community Bank, N.A. in South Hero, is proud to host the works of JoBeth Weinreich of Champlain, NY.

Weinreich, a sculptor who works primarily in clay, has focused her art presentation on a body of work created to raise awareness and encourage conservation for wildlife and their habitats. “We have to be the voice for the polar bear and other wild animals,” said JoBeth. “My hope is that the viewer will be able to empathize with these sculptures and begin to look at these animals in a different way. They are an intrinsic part of life on earth and we have a moral obligation to protect them and their habitats.”

According to Weinreich, the sculptures explore our negative relationship with the natural world through the green sea turtle, polar bear, lion, and peregrine falcon.

“These four animals were chosen because they are easily recognizable and have shared the most history with us. They occupy very important places in the ecosystem and can be indicators of environmental health and ultimately our own health.”

“The polar bear is constantly portrayed by the media and has become the poster child for climate change. Even though we understand how important it is to the ecosystem, the polar bear is still in serious danger. Our way of life is causing what scientists are calling the 6th extinction. In the sculpture, two of the bears are surrounded by open ocean and one is starving on land to symbolize this and the disastrous effects of human-caused climate change.”

“Lions have a reputation for being strong and courageous, however they are rapidly approaching extinction because of habitat loss and their popularity among big game hunters. This sculpture explores whether we are losing the ability to look at many wild animals as living, breathing creatures and instead seeing them as nothing more than trophy’s and how it may be dangerous to view a living thing based on how good it would look mounted on the wall. This sculpture aims to make the viewer question why it is ok to do that to an animal but not to a person.”

“Like the lion, the green sea turtle is also facing extinction. Our throwaway culture has led to ocean pollution on a massive scale. The amount of trash in the world’s oceans is staggering and most of it is plastic. This sculpture, in particular, shows some of the many everyday items that wind up in or on sea life. Anything from turtles to sea birds are ingesting or becoming tangled in our plastic waste and are dying by the thousands. And it doesn’t stop there; these plastics also break down in the ocean releasing a multitude of toxic chemicals into the water.”

“All of these animals occupy important places in the ecosystem, but birds are an important indicator of what is going on or what is wrong in the environment. The white silhouette of the peregrine falcon symbolizes how this magnificent bird almost went extinct and could have become nothing more than a ghost. The foot prints or bird tracks come from many different species of birds to symbolize that not just one specific type of bird is threatened but many. Human development, agriculture, dumping of toxins, climate change, and capture for trade are just a few ways that they are being threatened.”

The Island Arts Gallery at the Community Bank is open to the public during normal banking hours, Mon-Thurs. 9-4; Fri. 9-5:30.

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