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[een-spee-cho] the best of Miami arts

Gretchen Scharnagl: Artist, Environmental Activist

Gretchen Scharnagl: Artist, Environmental Activist
Introduction to Gretchen Scharnagl.  4:10 min. Interview:  Raymond Elman.  Camera:  Betsabe Romero.  Videography & Production:  Andrea Igliozzi.

 

GRETCHEN SCHARNAGL is originally from coastal Connecticut.  Even though she grew up and received her education in South Florida, the muted colors of the northern Atlantic and cool inland forests inform her palette to this day. Scharnagl earned an MFA at Florida International University and has been teaching there since 2004. She has two adult daughters in the biological sciences and a husband in the building trade, all of them deeply influence her subject and material choices.

Concerned with the role art plays in today’s society, Scharnagl delves into the edible, the ephemeral, the environmental, art made from debris, collaborative art, civic action as art and art as a vehicle of thinking and idea generation.  She is more concerned about her broad audience than the narrow focus of the traditional art world.  She seeks critique from scientists as readily as from fellow artists.

Scharnagl is an educator, teaching classes such as Community Comic Book, Feast, and Things: Object, Image and Memory and Things: Earth Art, as well as Drawing to the entire freshman class of architecture, interior architecture and landscape architecture students each fall.  Her influences include Australian Aboriginal art and Native American ledger art.  Her practice is becoming more and more eco-material aware. Her installation work finds its foundation in the Japanese garden.

Drawing is her basic working aesthetic, which comes out clearly in the mark-making quality of even her installation work.  Her drawings range from two inches to ninety feet and can be graphite only or anything-goes mixed-media, with a signature medium of coffee that is pervasive throughout most of her work.

Currently, Gretchen Scharnagl is allowing her environmental interests, social concerns and personal narrative to blend, using mostly found, gift, or repurposed materials in her work from drawings to installation.

The videos below are organized by topic and run between 1 minute and 10 minutes. Click on
any video. You must be connected to the Internet to view the videos.

 

Spring Migration. 2019.
9 x 3-foot panels (9’ X 9’ total).  Color saturated sustainable mulberry paper from Nepal and old chart and other ephemera collage and Arches on wood panel.
​100 migratory birds  Southern sky – height of migratory season, spring.  Map source 1890s.  Birds 50% scale, old nautical charts, east coast.

 

 

INSIGHT & INSPIRATION: 9:09 min.

What inspired you to make artwork that addresses environmental issues?

 

Fall Migration. 2019.
9 x 3-foot panels (9’ X 9’ total).  Color saturated sustainable mulberry paper from Nepal and old chart and other ephemera collage and Arches on wood panel.
​101 birds.  Northern sky – height of migratory season, fall.  Map source satellite photograph (showing light pollution- metallic ink).  Birds 50% scale, aerial photographs of neighborhood layouts, development plans, blue prints, cannibalized artwork, used packing paper, coffee filters, vintage Florida ads, corrugated cardboard, discolored legal pad pages.

 

 

CRITICAL THINKING:   6:06 min.

What else inspires and motivates your work?

 

CREATES A UNIQUE PERSONAL BRAND:  8:17 min.

What led you to start creating cartoons and comic books?

 

EMPATHY:  2:33 min.

You sound like a person who loves to do research.

 

CREATES A UNIQUE PERSONAL BRAND:  7:11 min.

Describe some of the pieces in your exhibition at FIU’s Miami Beach Urban Studios. What is the story they are telling and how do they interact?

 

RESPECTS OTHERS POINTS OF VIEW:  4:18 min.

Dr. Eric Chivian, whom Time magazine designated as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2008, produced a book about endangered species, and how some extinctions will impoverish the health of humankind because of the loss of their medicinal value.

 

EMPATHY: 6:33 min.

Besides environmental issues, what else influences your art?

 

CRITICAL THINKING:   1:12 min.

The oceans and other waterways are filled with plastic. An artist named Jay Critchley collected thousands of plastic tampon applicators from Cape Cod beaches and made art objects with them. In Florida there have been mixed results with banning plastic bags, straws, etc.

 

COMMUNITY VALUES:  1:40 sec.

What are your thoughts about plastic microfibers that are said to be so profuse in all the sea creatures that we eat.

 

OVERCOMES CHALLENGES TO SUCCEED:  1:45 min.

What inspires you? What keeps you going?