Thursday, September 23, 2010

Buster Simpson

They saved the best for last at the Global Warn(m)ing symposium, which is too bad because I think he would have been more appreciated earlier in the day before people were completely worn out from two days of lectures. Buster has one of the most simple and down to earth approaches to practical art making/problem solving that I have ever seen. I liked his attitude that sometimes you just have to do it and ask for forgiveness later. His talk made me really understand agitprop for the first time. In the 1980's when acid rain was a serious problem for our lakes and streams he learned that the forest service was adding calcium carbonate to rivers in New York. He made large limestone(calcium carbonate) wafers and put them in the river as sculpture that was both calling attention to the acid rain problem and helping neutralize the acid. He has since worked on many water reclamation projects, mostly on the west coast.
I was most inspired by his work placing porcelain plates in waterways near sewage outfalls. He fired the plates after they sat in the water for a while giving them interesting colors and patterns.
After all the beginnings and what-if's it was nice to end with an artist actually making a difference.

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