Arts in a Time of Covid-19, installment 3: Resources, Art and more from Morris Arts

During this difficult period, Morris Arts will do its best to be a resource for the arts community by sharing information about resources for artists as well as a sampling from Vanishing Worlds, our new exhibit at the Gallery at 14 Maple.

For more resources during the pandemic, click  HERE and check the New Jersey State Council on the Arts updates at:


And here is the next of our daily glimpses of the Vanishing Worlds exhibit: 


Susan Ahlstrom
Our Town

Mixed media
21” x 15”
Courtesy of the Artist

Susan Ahlstrom/ Artist Statement 
Environmental issues became important to me in the 1990’s while traveling in the Pacific Northwest. I remember one day, in particular, my first day of a two-week trip there. On a hike up to Clear Peak West, the panorama was one of massive clear-cuts with Mt. Rainier looming in the distance. Along roads going north, there were wide borders of tall pines, camouflaging a treeless landscape beyond. It was devastating to see this degradation and impossible to forget. I traveled to the Caribbean and to South India last year. I asked the local nature guides what the current environmental issues were. The problems in the Caribbean and in South India were the same as ours; the issues were habitat loss, over-development and abusive land practices. When I arrived home, I learned that a 9000 square foot house was being built adjacent to mine and that a local pond was polluted with deck stain that had been dumped into a drainage outlet more than five miles away.
Is there hope for the land? In the remote areas of the wilderness that I have explored, there are often signs of trouble. In my work as an artist, I continue to bring attention to the environment, sometimes to a sense of well-being that the natural world offers, but more often, to conflicts that have evolved between man and nature.


Curator Yvette Lucas offers the following overview of the VANISHING WORLDS  exhibit:

Everything is transient; nothing remains the same. If anything looks solid and permanent, it is only an illusion since everything in the universe is in a constant state of flux—growing and shrinking, living and dying, breathing in and breathing out.
_______Ilchi Lee, on the second realization of Tao

This exhibit explores the ways that we experience transition and change, loss and growth through memories, mistakes, achievements, and time. By viewing these worlds that the exhibiting artists have revealed, we may be witnesses to those places or moments that have been lost or will be lost in future times. Change is inevitable but how we respond to it is a choice.

Some of our worlds are vanishing with the aid of human development of technology and industry. The environments that we inhabit have been greatly affected by our continued use and over consumption as portrayed in Susan Ahlstrom’s memorial to extinct species of birds in “Tower of Extinction.” Lisa G. Westheimer’s “Sponge Lamp” glows in an eerie light, like a lighthouse, warning us away from impending ecological disaster. Robert F Lach’s installation, “Dwell,” is made up of nests left empty by their inhabitants. “The Last of the Hawks”, a photo essay by Onnie Strother, laments the end of an era where newspapers support the livelihood of the people, who sell them on street corners. Those who are rapidly being replaced by cell phones and other electronic media.

The gift of memory gives us access to significant moments in our lives and transport us to our previous selves no longer defining but informing who we are now. In Kate Dodd’s “Scrapbooking” piece, images are cut into commercial scrapbook papers to reveal “unspoken truths that are disguised by the glossy “good time” veneer.” She reveals the memories which we hide when sharing our past. In Janet Boltax’s series, “Aging in America,” we encounter people who have lived over 90+ years. Through these portraits and narratives, we are invited to visit the days that enriched and shaped their lives. Philemona Williamson’s paintings of children on the brink of adolescence is both enchanting and slightly unnerving as we see children transitioning into beings that are self-aware of their growing bodies in her painting “Dusty Afternoon.” In Diane Savona’s “Tablet” series, she studies the history of communication on a global scale. From ancient civilizations to the present moment, Diane wants the viewer to know that “knowledge can be lost” as some of her tablets portray the destruction of ancient centers of knowledge throughout time.

When I view all these artworks there is a recurring thought that we too are vanishing and centuries from now all will be replaced. Bill Westheimer, in his series “Anthropocene” (the time period of humankind’s existence on the earth), gives us a vision of a future world without us. He has created fossils that are “imaginary records of flora and fauna that might be found in a future geologic era. They are evidence of what was and hints of how it might have been extinguished” after we too are gone.

                                                                                    ___Yvette Lucas, Curator