Featured Artist Rebecca Potts

Rebecca Potts received her M.F.A. in Visual Arts from Washington University in St. Louis and her B.A. in Geography and Studio Art from Middlebury College in Vermont. She studied printmaking, painting, photography, wilderness issues, and Australian aboriginal art at the University of Tasmania Centre for the Arts, and photography and architecture history at Harvard Summer School.

Her work has been exhibited throughout the US and in Australia. She won the Middlebury College Committee on Art in Public Places award in 2004 and has work in the Middlebury College collection. Potts has coordinated community murals in Vermont and New Jersey and curated an exhibit entitled “Science Makes Art” at Middlebury College. She also writes about the arts and is currently a finalist for publication in the anthology, 20 Under 40 .

Potts worked as an environmental community organizer in Camden NJ, helped start a small public school in Brooklyn NY, and campaigned for clean energy in Vermont. She is currently the Visual Arts Editor for www.ClimateChangeEducation.org. She was born in Western Montana and now lives in Los Angeles, California.

What are your goals?
To continue to grow and challenge myself in the studio and by doing so to challenge established ideas about art. I’m also very interested in the intersection of art and science, so another goal is to advance the creation of what Jonah Lehrer (a writer and scientist) has termed the “fourth culture” in which the arts and the sciences collaborate in a positive feedback loop. More specifically, to develop or learn new techniques and methods that keep my materials and process relevant to my concepts; to spark dialogue about environmental issues of importance; to create artworks that actually embody or present solutions to environmental or societal problems; to maintain a balance between aesthetic concerns and conceptual concerns. Professionally, to continue exhibiting widely, to get a permanent teaching position, to be able to support myself with art.

What are you working on now?

I just finished writing a chapter on collaboration between the arts and the sciences, that may be published in 20 Under 40. I’m also working on animating a book of drawings that I did last year. A few of the first pages are here:
http://www.rebeccapotts.com/flash/pg01.html
http://www.rebeccapotts.com/flash/pg02.html
http://www.rebeccapotts.com/flash/pg03.html
I’ve been working on some new paintings as well. They’re just fun, colorful pieces that let me relax. They’re based on images of fields of flowers shot from the air that look like abstract color field paintings. I have a big archive of aerial images, some from my own trips and some from google image searches. Another ongoing project is a group of little books (about 4″ x 5″ each) made with pieces of prints, maps, handmade paper, drawings, paintings, and photocopies of information and images about the environmental and societal changes going on right now – from climate change to colony collapse disorder to the recession. I started these last year with sculptor Carolyn Bendel.

What inspires you?

Ecology, mapping, how we relate to the world around us. My impetus is ecological concern and interest in human interaction with land. This interaction is two-sided: we both alter and are altered by the land. As places change, our memories waver and shift, leaving only traces of lost environments. Just as memory builds in layers, I work in layers, physically and metaphorically.  Geologic strata and layers of human anatomy help me envision the planet as organism. Computer mapping systems (GIS) use layers of information to create complex interactive map images, while I compile information that burrows into my work. I’m also drawn to the beauty of nature and I embrace beauty in my work.

See more of Rebecca’s work at her website.

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