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New art exhibit arrives at SMC

Rebecca O'Neil | Friday, September 30, 2011

A new exhibit at the Saint Mary’s Moreau Center for the Arts calls students to study humanity’s interaction and manipulation of the environment, according to artist Marilyn Propp.

Propp and her husband, artist David Jones, will display their work at the center beginning today. The exhibit, titled “Industrial Reconstructions,” will be open until Nov. 4.

The collection includes oil paintings on wood panels, as well and pen and ink drawings. Propp, a professor at Colombia College Chicago, said their works are meant to provoke thought about the environment.

“You seduce people with color, lines or form,” Propp said. “Then, you get them to think.”

Propp said she finds inspiration in every injustice to the natural world.

“I was very upset about the gulf’s oil spill because my family lived down there for a number of years,” Propp said.

“The rape of the earth has been bothering me for 30 years.”

Her sequence features a mixture of animal fossils, human body parts, marine life and the remnants of old machines.

In one piece, a blue lobster’s body is indistinguishable from a whirring propeller. In another, titled “Paradise Lost,” the tentacles of jellyfish are entwined in netting and trash.

Propp said her work does not always revolve around the environment though.

“[My earlier art was] much more interior,” she said. “There was more symbolism. It was more psychologically pat. I’ve spent the past few years looking outwards.”

The connected pieces of her collection reflect “our interdependence, interconnectedness and continuity.”

“There is ongoing movement, morphing and interaction between the organic and the metal shapes ⎯ tools, hardware, pipes and conduits.”

Jones worked mostly with photos for the past 10 years, but his display shows some of his recent sketches.

He uses his art to reflect on his “obsession with mechanical things … specifically the automobile,” according to his website.

“Machines are ubiquitous in the landscape,” Jones said on the website. “I see the drawings as a metaphor for our relationship with things, filling up our space and numbing our senses.”