Fresh off a winter exhibition designed to provoke conversations about race, social justice, and the pandemic, Northeastern’s Gallery 360 pivots to a new show that focuses on our relationships to nature and climate change as told through the artistic lens of three contemporary artists in New England.
“A Thread, Extended” opened in June and continues to Oct. 2. The name is a play on the threads used by Odette England, an Australian-British photographer who lives in Providence, Rhode Island, in one of her works. England bent and folded photo negatives of the landscape spanning her family’s former dairy farm in Australia to approximate property boundaries.
She then mailed the negatives to her mother, who used a sewing machine to stitch together the creases and cracks with red thread.
The result is In the Black, In the Red, where England has resewn the black and white prints from the negatives, and intentionally left the red threads dangling.
Gallery 360 curator Amy Halliday explains that she got the idea for the exhibition’s name after reading Tim Ingold’s Lines: A Brief History. The book examines how the perceptions of lines have changed over time.
His book “had the definition for a line from [British poet and playwright] Samuel Johnson’s 18th century dictionary, and one of the definitions was ‘a thread, extended,’” Halliday says. “All of these pieces really got me thinking about the marks and scars we make on land and how the land marks and makes us in return,” she adds.
“This thinking helped connect the threads, in turn, among three separate artists whose work I’ve been following for some time.”
Video by Cam Sleeper/Northeastern University
Justin Levesque is another one of those artists. He was inspired to create Arctic-themed works after an Icelandic shipping company moved its headquarters to his hometown of Portland, Maine, in 2012. He made several trips to the North Atlantic and Arctic Circle, resulting in works like Vital Signs, named for Norwegian psychologist and politician Per Espen Stoknes’s five psychological barriers to taking climate action—distance, doom, dissonance, denial, and identity.
Levesque, who has the bleeding disorder hemophilia, “moves within an environmental landscape that’s itself precarious due to climate change, but he’s also in a body that navigates that space with another layer of vulnerability in mind,” says Halliday. “He’s busy tracking his own vital signs and GPS coordinates in case he needs to be airlifted to a hospital.”
Levesque’s body is exemplified by an orange buoy that he pulls across snow and ice by a rope in the video, Proxy, shot with a cellphone camera. The harshness of the Arctic “is the site of so many heroic and hypermasculine adventure narratives, and Levesque is interested in what it means to make one’s way amongst those mythic footsteps, to shape a different story,” Halliday explains.
Climate change is also the theme of Cuban-American artist Allison Maria Rodriguez’s work, “all that moves.” The multi-channel video installation reflects the time she lived in Churchill, Manitoba. The Canadian town near the Hudson Bay is a popular destination for ecotourists drawn to the prevalence of polar bears, beluga whales, and birds.
“The use of video is important to her because she likes to create immersive environments that draw people in,” says Halliday.
Churchill was once the site of a research and military testing area for launching rockets in extreme atmospheric conditions. Though the site was closed in the 1980s, some of the rocket sections still mark the landscape, as reflected in Rodriguez’s installation.
Gallery 360 is open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT. It is located on the first floor of Curry Student Center.
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