Geo Rutherford

Artist Statement

My artwork is currently exploring concepts of invasiveness, impermanence, and the unseen in relation to the Great Lakes. The transparent surface of the lake is a deceptive indicator to the health of the ecosystems below the surface. With climate change, invasive species and polluted waters, the lakes are quickly devolving into a water desert at the heart of the Midwest. My artistic practice includes researching the history of the lakes, taking field notes while on visits to Lake Michigan and collecting various specimens the lake has turned over to the beaches. Over the course of a year, I also visited each Great Lake and spent time collecting various specimens along the shorelines.

Back in my studio, the lake is not so distant, but is wholly omnipresent. Through printmaking, book arts, and collage, I am constantly repurposing prints, mixing media and experimenting. Utilizing subject matter such as zebra and quagga mussels, alewives, sea lamprey, round goby, the spiny water flea and other invasive creatures, I engage printmaking to replicate their detrimental multiplicity. The work is in a constant state of flux as I manipulate prints, employ repetition, and explore the subtle changes that emerge through habitual art making. The result captures the current condition of the Great Lakes due to our anthropocentric perspective on the natural world. As an artist, I am addressing subject matters our society tends to neglect or ignore, including adverse environmental impacts right here in Milwaukee. I aim to provoke thought and engage my audiences with history, science, and environmental ethics.