Artist Eileen Wold, resourceful as can be, recycled drinking straws, combs, paint rollers, and even her children’s toys to stimulate environmental consciousness through an arty compilation.
Wold, a Baltimore artist who displayed her paint roller sculptural series at Hood College’s Whitaker Art Gallery, said, “There is a culture of garage tinkers that can make sort of anything out of anything. They are resourceful and they’re scrappy…I tend to be inspired by them and the things they can create.”
But even if it seems like Wold went dumpster diving for her material and took inspiration from modern-day Tinkerbells, her mixed media objects are pristinely put together.
“Paint roller wind turbines is what I’m calling them,” said Wold.
The gallery invited various artists to share their artistic spins on climate change, yet when walking through the small U shaped gallery Wold turbines outnumbered all the others entered at the showcase. Maybe, it wasn’t that she had so many representations of a turbine that made her work noticeable but that her pieces where just that impressionable. Her chef d’oeuvre the butterfly and paint roller combination was the piece de resistance.
It was showcased by the exhibit entrance, sort of standing upright beckoning with butterfly beauty. A hoard of fake butterflies rested on the roller cover, mimicking the winged creature’s natural glued stance on a flower. The roller gets lost when juxtaposed to the dainty insect.
Wold’s message, on the other hand, stands out above her works appearance.
“I like that idea of using stuff around you to come up with solutions to things. I think energy production as an industry is sort of monotone… it doesn’t have this sort of garage tinker sentiment I enjoy. So I tried to blend the two by using curious objects. I find that the more curious I make something the more people will spend time with it,” Said Wold.
Her thought process gets the brain-cogs workings. Real turbines are large, white, cold metal statues found in grassy fields. Wold wants to illicit climate change curiosity from the art community, so she contrasts everyone’s original connotation of a turbine with her creative ones to capture their attention.
And just when Wold’s artistic intentions are believed to be grasped. She reveals that there is even more behind her design. As with every artist, Wold’s work is layered with meaning. For example, why butterflies?
“Butterflies are our first canneries in the coal mines, as far as climate change goes. Their migration patterns alerted the scientific communities to these changes, so there is my nod to that,” Wold said.
And as Wold’s daughter runs around the exhibit she adds to the pile of denoting this innocent yet imaginative perspective on wind.
She said, “I talk to my daughter, there who is about five, about wind, sun and about these things as just kinetic energy. And that you can’t see it unless something shows it to you. Butterflies show us the wind.”
There are so many interpretations of this outstanding item in Wold’s series. That it’s okay to come up with one’s own. She invites her viewers to mess with the piece’s concept, to wonder about the environment and to play with the sculpture itself. It’s rare to find a “please do touch the art work” sign in an exhibit, yet Wold encourages it. Wold demonstrated her art’s practicality.
She said, “It is fun to blow on them. This is part of my experimentation too. Understanding how much wind you need and what sort of aerodynamic objects and shapes are needed, I am not an engineer so I didn’t study this. So, it was sort of learning curve to understand all this.”
With innocence, Wold goes around to all her windmills and blows on them. She said that some were more efficient than others and that she didn’t really worry about efficiency during the creation process since they were art pieces after all. Though, it might have been “cooler” if all the art worked. Then again, that could just be regarded as a testament to the failures of some environmentally “efficient” machines.
Also, in the exhibit were turbines that had a roller stem and a combination of barber combs, envelopes, tape, or clothes pin petals. A lot of her other works of art were weaker in appearance than the butterfly piece.
The tape compilations looked especially haphazardly crafted, the strips almost peeled off when whirled. The barber comb, looked fun, but it still had the adhesive hairs from where it was hot glued. In addition, she had a Lite Brite solar panel piece, which she pilfered from her daughter, in the exhibit that still followed the environmentally friendly theme of the gallery, but seemed out of place alongside her turbine series. It was a lonely piece with no companions.
However, when Wold explained her reasoning towards including it in the exhibit, things made a little more sense.
“The solar panel Lite Brite piece is still in that same vein,” She added,
“It’s quite a simple little operation. Not much experience is needed to get that to work and if I’m an artist and I can get it to work I am hoping that someone coming through here could find the power to see that anyone can. I chose a light bright for couple reason one it has the same playfulness that these [the turbines] bring to the table. And because of the light, it only works when there is light out. Why would I want to make light when I don’t need light.”
Like her other artworks the Lite Brite is playful and makes people question its multi-layers of meaning.
The Lite Brite is the last of Wold’s items, and is placed at the exit of the exhibit. Even though the Lite Brite is incongruous with the series, it is still a medium that demonstrate the importance of utilizing the environment as an energy source.
Wold has definitely accomplished her goal to inspire curiosity by the odd assemblage of her pieces and thus made her audience contemplate about the environment.
She said, “I engage in this conversation by highlighting the idea of resourcefulness as a way to design our way out of a problem that we designed our way into.”