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Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle explores the past, present and future of North America’s Great Lakes—one of the world’s most emblematic and ecologically significant ecosystems.
This multifaceted project was initiated in 2013, when artist Alexis Rockman embarked on a research tour of the Great Lakes region. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a suite of five mural-sized (6 feet by 12 feet) paintings, which explore separate themes that emerged during Rockman’s travels. The paintings are accompanied by several large-scale watercolors and field drawings—monochromatic animal and plant studies made from site-sourced organic material, such as mud, sand, coal and leaves.
One of the world’s great natural treasures, the Great Lakes—Erie, Huron, Ontario, Michigan, and Superior—form an interconnected system that is among the most beautiful, economically important, and ecologically complex regions on the planet. The Great Lakes, which hold over 20% of the world’s fresh water, contain resources that are among the most precious for the future of humankind and life on earth.
Rockman’s series celebrates the natural majesty and global importance of the Great Lakes while exploring how they are threatened by certain factors, including climate change, globalization, invasive species, mass agriculture and urban sprawl. While there has been some success in reversing these trends, the exhibition of these dramatic works will serve to inspire wider understanding and facilitate meaningful dialogue about this critically important issue.
Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle is organized by the Grand Rapids Art Museum, with support generously provided by the Wege Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Frey Foundation, and LaFontsee Galleries and Framing.
Support for this exhibition and accompanying programs is provided in part by the Wisconsin Arts Board, with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.