Ani Collier brought her artistic vision from the Black Sea to the Black C Art Gallery five years ago. Now, Collier’s latest exhibition takes Gainesville visitors to the glaciers of Antarctica.
Inspired by a trip to the icy continent three years ago, the Bulgarian artist said she created the new exhibit “Glacial Waste” to show the beauty of Antarctica and bring attention to environmental issues in a unifying way.
“It just felt like the last continent that’s been kind of untouched by human presence,” she said.
In “Glacial Waste,” Collier showcases her original photography from the trip, driven by her “adventurous spirit,” and fills the gallery floor with plastic water bottles.
“I contrast the beauty of what we have with, you know, the plastic bottles — all the plastic that we keep producing day-in and day-out — and not just plastic, all the trash that we go through,” she said.
The exhibition opened March 12, but the gallery is continuing to collect plastic water bottles for the installation. They asked the public to donate empty plastic water bottles to the gallery at 201 SE Second Place, Suite 111. Gallery director Iryna Kanishcheva said donated bottles are sanitized and cleaned then added to the installation. Once the exhibition is completed, she said the bottles will be brought to a recycling facility.
Collier plans to add an element of live performance to the exhibition in April. She said she’s exploring several options of how to incorporate the performances.
“It's very interesting right now because we have the exhibit, we have an idea, but with the performances and what we're doing next, it’s going to happen organically in the next month,” Collier said. “So it's sort of like an exciting and scary place at the same time.”
In whichever form the exhibition comes together, she said she wants to allow visitors to independently experience and think through the piece.
“I am not gonna lecture, I'm not gonna say anything. It's just going to be — see what we have and see what we do, you know, and what can we do about it.”
She said she believes art provides a unifying and impactful way to spark thought about issues in society. While environmental issues like climate change may be divisive sometimes, Collier said she thinks art can provide a different perspective.
“Art touches us in a way that somehow you remember,” Collier said.
Kanishcheva, a Ukraine-native who is also the founder and director of GNV Urban Art LLC, echoed Collier’s intentions for the exhibition and upcoming performances.
“We are going to incorporate a meaningful message at the play to make people think,” she said. “We are not going to just say that — hey, don’t waste plastic, you know? Don’t put it here. Try to recycle, don’t you? We’re going to let them experience what’s going on without saying actually the words. That’s the plan.”
Kanishcheva said the exhibition’s main message is “to look at where we are now.”
She spoke of the way humans approach recycling and sustainability efforts, and the “I’m just one person” mindset which may prompt individuals to be less concerned about their impact. The goal of the exhibition, she said, is to simply “start a dialogue” about these issues through visual and performing arts.
Black C Art Gallery is also cycling through rotational shows including “In Search of,” “The Stronger” and “... there was a Girl,” Kanishcheva said. These are some of the gallery’s performance-based shows, playing to the blend of performance and fine arts embraced by Black C Art Gallery staff. She said some of these shows will be brought back this year after the “Glacial Waste’ exhibition.
“It’s a combination of fine arts and performing arts here in the gallery, and I really like that because I see many ways how I could implement something more experimental or theatrical,” she said.
She also said COVID-19 safety guidelines like masking, social distancing and limited-capacity events are in place.
The gallery is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to the website. Visitors can also see the gallery by appointment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Valeriya Antonshchuk at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @VAntonshchuk.
Valeriya Antonshchuk is a junior telecommunication-news and political science student at the University of Florida. As a news assistant for the Avenue, Valeriya covers Gainesville's entertainment and culture news weekly. Valeriya was originally born in Ukraine and speaks fluent Russian.