Igniting Action at the Intersection of Art, Ecology, and Contemplation

The Garrison Institute was honored to welcome the work of Paz Perlman and artists from the Think About Water collective into the ensemble of contributors at our recent Pathways to Planetary Health Symposium in March. These critically acclaimed artists are known for their powerful bodies of work that grapple with today’s most profound societal and environmental challenges.

This exhibition, which includes Perlman’s Down to Earth installation and the Rivers exhibit curated by Think About Water’s Fredericka Foster, was open for public viewing 1 – 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, 2023.

The Down to Earth and Rivers projects harness the intersection of art, ecology, and meditation in order to deepen the viewers’ sense of connection, awareness, and care for the environment – and to hopefully ignite action. These pieces provided the impactful visual element to the PPH Symposium, which united scientists, economists, ethicists, communicators, and leaders from across fields to share ideas that lead to tangible altruistic and environmental action.

Paz exhibits internationally and is particularly interested in how art can support collective awakening on issues such as climate change and social inequity. She is a long-time student of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

“I created the Down to Earth interactive installation as a homage to the earth and in particular the air element,” she explains. “It elevates our awareness that there is no division between the external wind and our internal breath. If we truly embody that truth, we will not pollute the air we all share.”

Among its many effective media, this installation uses symbolic language to convey its message. The asemic language displayed on the surrounding wall, written with organic soil, is a mantra of the word “air” in Hebrew, which contains within it the words “light” and “mirror.”

Down to Earth is one of the most extraordinary installations I’ve been privileged to participate in. It’s truly marvelous. It comes from the heart, the mind, the soul and body.”

Mary Evelyn Tucker, co-founder and co-director of the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology

The Rivers exhibition includes work from Basia Irland, Doug Fogelson, Dr. Kelsey Leonard, Ellen Kozak, Fredericka Foster, Jaanika Peerna, Lauren Rosenthal McManus, Meridel Rubenstein, Rosalyn Driscoll, and Stacy Levy. They all belong to Think About Water, a collective of ecological artists and activists who interpret, celebrate, and defend water. These artists have experienced the effect of environmental degradation as well as the transformative power of art; they have chosen water as their subject matter or medium.

“As curator of an art exhibition to accompany the Pathways to Planetary Health Initiative at the Garrison Institute, I chose ‘Rivers’ to be the subject,” Fredericka Foster explains. “Water is the ultimate commons, shared by all living beings, and the Institute is above the Hudson River. Our artists believe that art is a form of direct mental targeting, enlivening emotions and creating a sense of connection. We need both reason and feeling to create positive and lasting change.”

Fredericka Foster
Beacon Falls
Oil on Canvas
40” x 30”
Jaanika Peerna
Ablation Zone 5
Pigment and Ice on Yupo  
80” x 30”

Among the many striking pieces from Foster’s international roster of artists, Jaanika Peerna’s work is particularly moving. “I have lived half of my life near the shores of the River Pirita in my native country, Estonia, and the other half on the banks of the Hudson River; they connect within me as one love. All waterways are ultimately connected, if we only let them be.” Peerna created a painting for Rivers, collaborating with water.

Please learn more and discover the other captivating work created by these artists. For more information about Paz Perlman and her work, visit her website at www.pazperlman.com. For more information about Think About Water, visit www.thinkaboutwater.com.

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