Inflamed spirits

Inflamed Spirits

Oct 7, 2023 - Oct 28, 2023

Redbud Arts Center, Houston, US

Redbud Arts Center

Human Footprint

Gulia Groenke was born in a place that has influenced her to show the devastating human impact on nature in her paintings. Norilsk, a city in the northernmost region of the world, is located about 200 miles above the Arctic Circle and is considered one of the most polluted places on earth.

The city‘s trade? Metal mining. Nickel, cobalt, and copper are sought-after metals for the production of electric car batteries. The result of mining these precious metals is a barren landscape of dead and dying trees and the pollution of glacial rivers. This ecocide, the destruction of large areas of the natural environment by human activity, influenced Gulia to visually express and draw attention to a catastrophic destruction of our environment that affects us all.

Her work goes beyond the devastating effects of the human footprint in her native land to address environmental issues around the world. Her art illuminates the effects of human actions that exploit the gift of nature and impact the lives of people and animals. In “Forced Migration”, wandering figures in an obscured landscape pose the question, “Where do we go from here?”. “Polluted Tides” depicts an abstract, bluish body of water speckled with black dots that may represent an oil spill. “Inflamed Spirits” shows blazing flames among patches of green and spirits floating in the sky, creating an almost surreal scene. Then there seems to be a stalemate in “Balance of Nature”, where human figures appear tiny in contrast to much larger animals. Who will win?

The painting “Yearning for Peace” shows a face with wide eyes looking at the destruction caused by human activity. Gulia’s art reveals the human impact on the global environment in form and color, unobtrusively through abstraction. Her work is a quiet contemplation of our impact on the planet. Her paintings are full of solemn depictions that tug at our core without judgment to inspire reflection and awareness.

“What humans do in the next 50 years will determine the fate of all life on our planet.” - David Attenborough

Gulia Groenke’s first solo exhibition reveals the interconnectedness and interdependence of nature and humans.

Tanja Peterson, Executive Director and Curator Redbud Arts Center