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Eco-inspired art on exhibit at Steingart

Environmental issues are basis for art projects

By Tracey Tate
On December 9, 2010

"Save Our Earth Ship," an art exhibit by Laney College students that addresses environmental and social justice, opened Dec. 3 at the June Steingart Gallery in conjunction with Oakland's Art Murmur.

Students enrolled in art instructor Andrée Thompson's Eco Art Matters class presented their artistic expressions that were a culmination of their research into food and related environmental issues.

Thompson said, "Students first research a subject that they are enthusiastic about or one that brings shock or awe. They then create a proposal to bring attention to the issue. The last half of the semester they create their art."

Jamesette Hill, a nurse and art student created a multi-media sculpture comprised primarily of cigarette butts that she picked up on the Laney campus. Over the course of three weeks, Hill collected 2,500 cigarette butts, spray-painted them and composed them in her final presentation.

Nana Kumi-Amankwah said, "I have always been concerned about the environment and wanted to learn as much as I could in this class." Kumi-Amankwah created a comic book for children entitled "Sneakers and the U-Force." Kumi-Amankwah's comic book teaches kids about global warming through super hero characters.

A super-sized plastic shopping bag was on display as Sophie Lan Hou's exhibit. Lan Hou collected over 3,000 plastic bags and reshaped them into one gigantic shopping bag. She ironed the plastic bags together with parchment paper and created a new durable material.

"Plastic is one of those things we can't continue to consume. We are a consumer culture and have lost a sense of creativity within our culture," said Lan Hou.

Thompson, an environmental and nature activist, has been teaching Eco Arts at Laney since 2005. She is a member of the Women's Environmental Artist Directory, which promotes understanding of ecological and social justice art. Thompson said, "I'm 74 years old. The only reason I am still teaching is because what I am doing is of urgent importance."

"Save Our Earth Ship" will be at the Steingart through Dec. 15. The gallery is open Monday - Friday 11 a.m to 5 p.m.

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