Tangle Fist, a large-scale art print by Dusty Herbig (contributed photo).

Energy consumption and sustainability are explored in Push Pull art exhibit

American artist hopes his large-scale will impress

Electrical chords twist like snakes through the Push Pull exhibit at the Harris-Warke Gallery in Red Deer.

If you follow their tangled trail you will be led to connectors, and eventually the metal prongs that fit into electrical sockets at the end.

The growing human demand for more resources is the thread running through the works of printmaker Dusty Herbig. “I’ve been dealing more or less with the same subject matter since leaving grad school,” said the artist based in Syracuse, New York.

His original art prints — bold images of human hands holding plugs or chords, and a giant wall outlet — were carved into manufactured fibreboard or PVC foam on a massive one-metre by four-metre scale.

Herbig hopes the sheer size of his works will impress, and get people thinking about power consumption and sustainability.

“A lot of us charge up our iPods… and we don’t think about where the power comes from,” or how the resources are handled, he said.

Whether our power is generated from hydro, nuclear, solar energy or wind, whether it flows through pipelines or is dug up as coal, there’s a variable cost to the Earth. Yet, “the people are lulled into a happy state of being.” They don’t care where it originates — “just that they have power,” said Herbig.

The Kansas native made his large prints through some tricky manoeuvring. Since his images were too big for even the largest printing press at his disposal, his carved MDF board was covered in ink and then printed in two stages. Herbig said half of a large print was pressed first, then the other half.

He hopes viewers will get an “overwhelming” feeling about his subject matter because of the large scale. “Even on just a technical level, people might think, Wow! How did he do that?”

Herbig earned a Master degree in Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an undergraduate degree from Fort Hays State University in Kansas. He now teaches as an associate professor of art at Syracuse University.

The artist, who’s exhibited all over the U.S. and is represented by Novado Gallery in Jersey City, N.Y., applied for his first Canadian show after seeing a call for submissions online.

While he liked the sound of Red Deer, Herbig had no firm idea of where this city was. He recalled vaguely thinking he might drive up here and drop off his works.

After checking our location on Google maps, he put that notion to rest and mailed them in instead.

The Push Pull exhibit continues to Aug. 19 in the gallery upstairs at Sunworks on Ross Street.

lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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