The art of sustainability

Sustainability is such a broad term that concepts related to green living, especially a green future, can seem vague. Local artist and environmental advocate Catie Faryl is using her art both to educate the community about sustainability and to generate discussion about sometimes murky ideas.

I love the idea of using art to inform, and Faryl's exhibit sets out to inform and even empathize. The MAda Shell Gallery is exhibiting Faryl's work tonight through Aug. 27. The exhibit explores the green movement with a keen understanding that no one has all the answers. The show is called "Through a Glass, Darkly," and offers images that articulate the fact that our environmental future is still out of focus.

"The art shows that we can't really see what's ahead. That's why making environmentally responsible choices is hard: no one knows what is going to happen. We all just do our best," Faryl said. She will also be available every Friday to talk about her work, answer questions and provide an overview of the green movement in our valley and how each of us can make simple changes toward a sustainable future.

Faryl is a dynamo in the world of community activism. She has recently advanced the idea of a sustainability support center for cottage-industry jobs, agricultural and environmental support, complimentary currency systems and a home for the Sustainability Alliance, an organization made up of green nonprofits, businesses and supportive citizens. She also hosts a radio program, "Mother Nature Says Clean Up Your Room," on KSKQ, 94.9-FM, where she interviews environmental experts.

Despite a full plate of activities, Faryl says it is the art, and the images in day-to-day life her art reflects, that most inform her about the state of the world.

"I'm not doing anything that special," she said. "There are images all around us. If people tune in, they'll see most of us have the same concerns, fears, and hopes."

As an example, she says that recurring images of zombies in popular books, film, and television reflect the apathy and zombie-like acceptance of practices that aren't environmentally sustainable. One of her etchings on display at the gallery is a black and white image called "Straw into Gold." It is an etching of a character spinning harvested hay into gold. "The piece is a statement about the alchemy of change," said Faryl. "Nature is gold, it's something to treasure."

Faryl wants her artwork to communicate the need for a middle ground, and that the green movement must not become too polarizing.

"I am so mainstream, it's ridiculous," Faryl said. "We all need to pause and think about the middle path toward achieving our goals. We're all stewards of the planet and Mother Earth is in our hands."

The MAda Shell Gallery is located on the plaza above American Trails. The exhibit is open to the public every Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. Faryl will discuss her work and take questions on local sustainability efforts every Friday at 7 p.m.

Tidings staff writer Vickie Aldous and Tidings correspondent Angela Howe-Decker alternate as author of the weekly column Quills & Queues.

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