Exist, Flourish, Evolve
Feb 2-May 26, 2024
Andrea Bowers, Rights of Nature I, 2022, neon. Photo: Glen Cheriton, Impart Photography
LA-based artist Andrea Bowers bears witness in her work, drawing attention to and inspiring movement around the most urgent issues of our time. Her drawings, sculptures, installations, and films chronicle and preserve history as it occurs, documenting collective action and amplifying the labor and lived experiences of activists dedicated to socio-political change.
Developed through an ongoing partnership with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and activist Tish O’Dell, Exist, Flourish, Evolve is a new, multi-site, multimedia campaign that builds awareness and action around the dangers facing Lake Erie and all of the Great Lakes ecosystems. It features a monumental neon sculpture installed on a waterfront balcony of the Great Lakes Science Center; a documentary investigating the impact of factory farming on Lake Erie’s ecosystem; and a presentation in moCa’s Lewis Gallery that includes a newly-created drawing of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, first-of-its-kind legislation protecting an entire US ecosystem that is part of the global Rights of Nature Movement.
Bowers was raised in the small town of Huron, Ohio and spent her childhood on the shores of Lake Erie, connecting to the lake itself like a member of her family to be cared for, cherished, and protected. Yet, Lake Erie and its watershed are abused and endangered by corporate practices such as contaminant dumping, toxic runoff from industrial farming, and the introduction of non-native invasive species. Exist, Flourish, Evolve demands justice for the Great Lakes, urging us to prioritize the preservation of our natural ecology over industrialization and capitalism.
Within moCa’s gallery, a timeline connects Bowers’s new and recent artworks with historical facts and archival materials using two catastrophic climate events as bookends to Bowers’s life thus far: the 1969 fire on the Lake Erie-connected Cuyahoga River (a result of oil slicks covering the water) and the massive 2014 algae bloom that blanketed Lake Erie and invaded Toledo’s water systems, preventing residents from using tap water.
From the Maumee to the Cuyahoga, the works in Exist, Flourish, Evolve come together to share the histories of our water, demonstrate the interconnectedness of ourselves and our natural world, and remind us, as Dr. Vandana Shiva states, “nature is not out there; we are a part of it.”