ART: A 3D exploration of nature and ethics

Sherri Chaba has an abiding concern about the environment and a passionately odd way of  showing it.

One of the neat things about living in an arts town like Edmonton is that people are willing to try all sorts of things artistically. We had this story on last month’s show by Zsolti Varsanyi, and in a similar vein comes  a presentation at the Art Gallery of Alberta.

Chaba will be discussing her installation, the Silence of Chaos, on Thursday night at 6 p.m. The discussion is free with gallery admission.

Chaba’s work combines wires strung almost haphazardly across a room, creating a sense of depth and texture to the open space, then complimented and modified by  statues to produce forms that she calls “cathartic” in their ability to express her discontentment with the “ethics” of land development and big business.

The AGA calls Chaba’s work, which is part of its New Works Gallery,  ” an immersive physical experience.”

We call it “interesting and freaky.”

So what motivates her? From her site: “My art is organized around an overarching theme – the undervalued consequences of progress in the twenty-first century. My current work focuses on the impact of industry on the northern Alberta landscape but the works I develop, with the themes of reclamation, preservation, and the interconnectedness of the ecological community, relate to global concerns.”

A familiar Alberta theme, to be sure — and a familiar debate.

“At a local level, I have become disenchanted with the value placed on the economy relative to that afforded the environment, as evidenced through personal experience and research. As a result, my work explores the complex relationships our western culture has constructed relative to nature.”

There’s a heavy dose of cynicism to her bleak portrayals. “My work demonstrates an appreciation for nature and natural systems while questioning the future– portending an environment that will no longer be habitable for humanity,” Chaba writes.