Environmentalism in the Works of Co|So Artists

By Caroline Browne on April 24, 2021

Written by Caroline Browne

As Earth Week comes to a close, we wanted to highlight several Copley Society artists whose works are focused on the future of our planet, and make climate change and conservation a priority in their artistic practices.

Pictured: Jeanette Fournier, Early Arrival, watercolor, 25.5 x 35.5”

Jeanette Fournier is a watercolorist and graphite artist whose work is inspired by nature, particularly the northern areas of New Hampshire and Vermont where she lives. Her artwork of animals, birds, and nature comes from a passion for and love of the natural world in which she grew up, and extended to other wild places where she has lived and explored over the years.

The artist is drawn to create artwork of the wild creatures in our world so that we will remember them, and remember the importance of saving the natural places around us as well.

Jeanette’s painting Early Arrival, currently featured in our Members Show: New Beginnings exhibition, demonstrates her attention to detail and illustrative technique in her depiction of a red-wing blackbird.

Pictured: Lucy Kalian, To Have and To Hold, graphite on cotton paper, 50 x 38”

Lucy Kalian, artist and activist, grew up reveling in the woodlands and beaches of the Garden State. Unapologetically representational in her art, Lucy has developed a unique, clever, and aesthetically pleasing style of art-making that satisfies the senses but also engages the viewer intellectually and emotionally. Her works openly exude a love for nature and capture its beauty.

Lucy has used her talent and vision as an artist to highlight the importance of preserving our natural environment. Her majestic graphite trees overwhelm with their towering sizes and ethereal beauty. The woodland subjects are noticeably bare – the trees hold no leaves, and every figure is surrounded by a vast stretch of white, negative space – emphasizing the details, personalities, and the solitude of each figure.

Lucy Kalian: Almost Botanical, the artist’s upcoming solo exhibition at Co|So, is a body of work created to share the experience of fleeting moments in time and in nature. This show is an homage to natures bursting flora as the winter months wane, revealing the delicate intricacies of petals, leaves, seed pods, and trees.

Pictured: Sandy O’Connor, CA, Day After Dorian, Ballston Beach, Truro, MA, watercolor on paper, 16 x 20”

Sandy O’Connor is a visual artist; best known for her watercolors and the exquisite realism she achieves. In 2019, Sandy was awarded a Copley Society of Art Visual Artistic Fellowship with a residency at the historic Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. During that time, she explored the impact of climate change on vulnerable landscapes within the Outer Cape and in turn used her art and social media platform to draw attention to their ecological significance.

She recently completed a series of watercolor landscapes titled “The Tipping Point: An Artist’s Perspective on Climate Change on the Outer Cape.” This series focuses on the subject of climate change and its impact on the coastal landscapes of the Outer Cape. By researching, sketching and painting the natural beauty of vulnerable landscapes, she hopes to engage others in their protection and support ongoing efforts by scientists, residents and concerned organizations.

Pictured: Donna Hamil Talman, CM, Such a Morning 2a, b, and c, encaustic on panel, 12 x 12”

Through the encaustic medium, Donna Hamil Talman captures the evolving life of land and sea. The artist is increasingly concerned with changes resulting from human interaction. Utilizing natural materials, she appreciates the way processes of encaustic mimic those in geology and make visible the passage of time.

Donna uses her art to bring awareness of the way that life and land evolve, and the ecological issues of our planet. The encaustic medium, made of beeswax and tree resin, is less toxic than most other mediums and is minimally harmful to the environment. The pouring process reflects nature: the heated wax flows somewhat like water, and the processes of heating and cooling involved resemble those of shifting tectonic plates deep inside the earth.

The Such a Morning series, featuring bright colors and dynamic movement, will be presented in our upcoming Small Works: SeaPort exhibition.

Pictured: Ginny Zanger, CA, Balance, watercolor, 15 x 12”

Inspired by seasonal changes at the Arnold Arboretum where she walks, by the shores of the Cape where she swims, and by the magical light of coral reefs where she dives, Ginny Zanger’s landscapes and seascapes evoke nature’s wonders. She is an environmental artist whose work celebrates the beauty of what remains on our shores, under our oceans, and in our forests.

Working with water media to evoke the gorgeous textures and deep, mysterious forces of our planet, she has developed innovative techniques that recreate the flows and fissures of the natural world. In her current practice, Zanger alternates between painting and monoprinting, and she revels in exploring new materials and innovating new techniques in both.

Her most recent series of work – monotype paintings that articulate changes in plant life in the Arnold Arboretum – reflect her environmental concerns, and evolved from conversations with scientists there who study the impact of climate change on plant growth. Ginny’s watercolor Balance, currently featured in our Small Works: Tapestry exhibition, was painted en plein air in the Arnold Arboretum last spring.

Pictured: Joyce Zavorskas, CA, Forest Beach Low Tide, oil on linen birch, 13 x 21”

Continuing a lifelong connection to earth and ocean, Joyce Zavorskas creates paintings, monotypes, and etchings that document the constantly changing coastal environment. She paints from direct observation in nature throughout the year, hiking cliffs, dunes, and waterways with backpack and easel, documenting shifting shadows and tides. In winter, Zavorskas paints studio contemporary abstract oils based on specific sites, taking time to reflect and experiment. These canvases feature layers of crusted paint imbedded with organic matter, to further engage the viewer with the wildness of nature.

She gravitates to presentations of nature surviving despite coastal storms and erosion. Wind, rain, gravity and the rising seas pound against the sand and clay cliffs, creating intriguing rhythms and patterns, but hastening their imminent demise.

Her plein air painting Forest Beach Low Tide, currently featured in our Small Works: Tapestry exhibition, demonstrates her interest in natural erosion, environmental change, and the power, beauty and imminent demise of nature.

You can view additional works by the artists featured above in our current Small Works: Tapestry exhibition, our Members Show: New Beginnings exhibition, and our two upcoming shows. Starting May 6th, Lucy Kalian: Almost Botanical and Small Works: SeaPort will be on view online and in person at 158 Newbury Street.