SDA 2021 Earth Matters logo
"Empty Nests?" – Linda Belden – 1st Place Award Winner

While the term matter bears different scientific and geologic connotations, EARTH MATTERS, as an exhibition theme, presents an expanded and nuanced perspective on issues relating to current ecological conditions that have been shaped by human habits. Threading the needle through divergent creative views, practices, and materials that are sensitive to nature and planetary preservation, the exhibition will explore how ecological considerations are factored into the making of art.

Note: “Symbiosis” by Heather Ujiie,  “Bleached Coral” by Roseline Young, and “Rounds” by Mimi Graminski can only be viewed online in this slideshow.
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“Earth Matters”
September 3 – October 30, 2021
Kaul Gallery
Work submitted by Surface Design Association Members

ONLINE RECEPTION  Thursday September 23, 6pm CT
Watch the video recording of the reception →

Join SDA’s Earth Matters juror, Nnenna Okore, and award winners, Linda Belden, Emily Sullivan Smith, Sandi Goldstein and Ruth Tabancay, for a virtual reception celebrating the exhibition. This event will include juror remarks, artist presentations and an opportunity to connect with other attendees in a small-group setting.

How can we make the earth or earth materials matter, while enabling innovative processes in artmaking? How do we address the issues that face the planet in ways that acknowledge our complicated relationship with manmade and natural environments? The exhibition will aim at not only catalyzing multilayered perspectives that present ways to critically think about and understand earth matters but raise important questions about how we cultivate eco-based approaches that engage and consider different ecologies.

“Earth Matters,” a contemporary international juried exhibit sponsored by the Surface Design Association and hosted by Watermark Art Center, raises these important questions. The exhibition explores how ecological considerations are factored into the making of art.

Award winners
1st Place: Linda Belden
2nd Place: Emily Sullivan Smith
3rd Place: Sandi Goldstein
SDA Award of Excellence: Ruth Tabancay


Nnenna Okore
Nnenna Okore, "Earth Matters" Juror

Nnenna Okore was born in Australia, raised in Nigeria and works in the United States. Throughout her long career as an artist-researcher-teacher, she has focused on ecological issues steeped in artistic practice, pedagogy and social engagements. As a Chicago art practitioner, Okore has been involved in numerous participatory art projects and exhibitions designed to produce dialogue, artmaking and an awareness of current environmental issues.

In her most recent art project, she uses bioplastic and environmentally friendly materials from food waste to create new art works. Okore is passionate about environmental issues and is currently involved in collaborative environmental projects in Australia. She is a professor at Chicago’s North Park University and in addition to receiving numerous national and international awards, Okore was a recipient of the 2012 Fulbright Award.

Juror’s Statement

“Through Earth Matters, artists have found a voice to trouble the field by inviting viewers to think with them about the planet. Drawing inspiration from a range of sources, the artists in Earth Matters sound the alarm about earthly conditions through diverse material experimentation and novel techniques. This is evidenced in the multidimensional works submitted to Earth Matters, which overall, were exceptional, meaningfully disruptive, and thought-provoking. The works collectively speak to the need to be attuned to our world viscerally, emotively, and ecologically. And more importantly, they contribute meaningfully to the discourse on material practice with waste, fiber, and other biomaterials.” – Nnenna Okore

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