science, art, and technology > careers in science, art and technology > ART, THE ENVIRONMENT, AND NEW TECHNOLOGY

Art, the Environment, and New Technology

Allegory of the Free Market, 1997
Laurie Hogin
Oil on canvas
Courtesy of the artist

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Art, the Environment, and New Technology

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Artist Laurie Hogin adopts oil-painting techniques of 16th- and 17th-century European masters to explore and critique how images from this period have had an effect on the social, political, or cultural climate of today. Common pictorial subjects from this period are transformed: normally gentle animals such as rabbits become ferocious bunnies in a world that has not been attentive to the environment. Bunnies are one of her favorite motifs because of the many levels of cultural meaning associated with them: From the Easter bunny to the Playboy bunny, this animal has been assigned a variety of labels throughout history. Hogin also examines how women’s bodies have come to be identified with nature and, like nature’s creatures, objectified or exploited in European painting.

Hogin maintains an acute awareness of the environment. She has been an activist for decades and has observed the irony in humans' current relationship with nature, including the tendency for humans to destroy or deplete the natural environment while claiming to love and nurture it. In a painting called The Last Monarch (1999), Hogin depicts mutant birds fighting over a monarch butterfly. This dramatic image refers to experiments in which an insecticide was genetically engineered and injected into corn, producing unintended consequences: It was toxic to this type of butterfly. The work speaks to the fact that knowledge and experimentation can, at times, produce unintended and harmful results. In another work, The Language of Flowers (1995), Hogin delicately paints the names of deadly organo-phosphate pesticides banned in the United States on the petals of tulips. She points out that these pesticides continue to be produced and used in developing nations, and that some commodities that come from these nations to the U.S. are contaminated.

Hogin is ultimately interested in how an image may reveal a world view. Her work challenges the viewer to embrace a concern for ecology and the environment and to question the world view which is implied by images of nature. Hogin received an MFA from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago in 1989 and currently an associate professor at the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Visit http://www.momentaart.org/pas_pro/hogin.html for additional information about Laurie Hogin and her body of work.