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Art exhibit highlights importance of Great Lakes

• Jan 28, 2018 at 2:00 PM

GRAND RAPIDS — A multi-faceted exhibition by New York-based artist Alexis Rockman will examine the forces – past, present and future – shaping the Great Lakes, one of the most emblematic and ecologically significant environments in the world.

“Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle” is organized by the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) and on view from Saturday, Jan. 27 through April 29, 2018. The project features all new work by the artist: five mural-sized paintings; six vibrant, large-scale watercolors; and a selection of monochrome field drawings based on his travel, interviews and extensive research in the Great Lakes region.

“The Great Lakes Cycle will inform and inspire viewers regarding the history of the Great Lakes, current challenges and threats to the region, and opportunities to positively shape its future,” said GRAM Director and CEO Dana Friis-Hansen, who curated the exhibition. “GRAM is committed to fostering dialogue around environmental sustainability. Our proximity to Lake Michigan offers the perfect venue for an exhibition highlighting the majesty and significance of the Lakes while identifying factors — visible and invisible — that threaten the system.

“The detail and precision of Alexis Rockman’s paintings and works on paper, combined with his rich imagination and narrative gift, will be a delight and a challenge to GRAM’s visitors.”

The Great Lakes – Erie, Huron, Ontario, Michigan and Superior – hold 20 percent of the world’s fresh water and form an interconnected and complex system that provides drinking water for more than 60 million people and habitation for more than 3,500 species of plants, mammals, birds, amphibians and fish. The lakes are impacted by massive threats to their preservation, including climate change, globalization, mass agriculture and urban sprawl.

“Ecological history and natural history have often informed my work, so the Great Lakes are an especially fascinating place,” said Rockman. “As I have worked on this project for the past five years, the environmental issues facing the lakes have become even more critical. My expedition in the region, observations of the area and conversations with experts have helped me tell a story that is, I hope, a compelling call for action on behalf of this natural treasure.”

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