BY BETH DEDMAN
Pressed flowers and paint intermingle on the canvas to form a collage of colors and textures, resulting in a fish wearing a life preserver.
This piece is one of 11 works by mixed-media artist Amanda McCauley appearing in her pop-up show “Warning Signs!,” which opens Feb. 29 in the Flower District.
McCauley partnered with the Plastic Pollution Coalition to exhibit a new series that highlights craft, conservation and the environment. She is best known for using organic materials in her work, such as preserved, pressed flowers as the palate for original botanical collages.
“It’s an anti-plastic ocean conservation message,” McCauley said. “The fish are wearing life jackets and gas masks to convey the message that our waters are in trouble. We’re doing it this weekend because New York is passing the plastic bag ban. Single-use plastic is the number one problem. That’s what keeps winding up in our oceans.”
Warning Signs! seeks to offer a vision of a plastic-free ocean and warn about the fragility of the environment. The pop-up is open Feb. 29 from 6-10 p.m. and March 1 from 12 to 4 p.m. at JRose Wholesale Flowers at 117 W. 28th St.
“I work with materials from the earth,” McCauley said. “The further I got into it, the more I became more aware of the environment. With this show, the anti-plastic message came about because I realized I was part of the problem.”
McCauley has been creating this natural art for 10 years, before which she was in graphic design. She also uses fabric, gold leaf, paint and different materials incorporated into the college, which she seals with Encaustic wax.
“My work is all natural,” McCauley said. “I make it with flower petals and materials from the natural environment. Generally my work is about strength in the face of fragility. It’s basically about how we can revere the natural world and preserve some of its essence and understand that the natural world is something we shouldn’t take for granted. It’s about preserving what we have because everything on this earth is disappearing at a rapid rate.”
McCauley splits her time between New York and her studio at Lopez Island, Washington where she participates in the community’s sustainable art practices, locally sourced materials, farm communities, composting and recycling.
The artist continually strives to create outside the limits of any one genre. Through workshops, she seeks to empower community-members to be more hands-on with their surroundings. She is inspired by her community at Lopez Island that takes environmental conservation to an elevated level.
By partnering with the Plastic Pollution Coalition, McCauley invites viewers to learn how plastic poisons our food chain, affects our health and how every piece of plastic ever created still exists on our planet. “Warning Signs!” is conceived as a warning about the harmful effects of plastic not only in our oceans but throughout every facet of modern life, especially with the ongoing realities of climate change.
“Warning Signs!” is also a celebration of the natural world, the plastic ban in NYC and the efforts of the Plastic Pollution Coalition to reduce our dependence on a synthetic material that is threatening the preservation of the world we all share.
“I’m super excited about it,” McCauley said. “I’m looking forward to bringing the work to the street and getting the crowd together to celebrate the plastic bag ban. That’s quite a feat. They finally got it passed. It seems like such a simple thing but it’s gonna make a huge difference. I want to make it a celebration.”
The Plastic Pollution Coalition is a global alliance of more than 1,000 organizations, businesses and thought leaders working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on humans, animals, waterways, oceans and the environment.
“I’m not an expert on the environment, and I look to them to help educate me on more facts and things I need to know,” McCauley said. “They’ve been great and super supportive.”
McCauley’s next show after this pop-up is already in development. The pieces from this pop-up will appear at a local artist theater show at Lopez Island this summer.
More information about McCauley’s work is available at amandamccauley.com.