Art Beat: The Photosynthesis Project

Oct 24, 2019

"The Green Man - 2014" by Linda Rzoska
Credit Linda Rzoska

The Photosynthesis Project is an invitational endeavor by artists and writers in southwest Michigan conceived by Linda Rzoska, the owner of Ninth Wave Studio in Kalamazoo.


Sixteen participants will explore the subject of photosynthesis and respond to it artistically. The group includes poets Elizabeth Kerlikowske and Lynn Pattison, and includes artists Susan Badger, Justin Bernhardt, Michael Dunn, Maryellen Hains, Tamara Hirzel, Anna Ill, Alexa Karabin, Dave Middleton, Joe Smigiel, David Stokes, Vicki VanAmeyden, Randy Walker, among others.

“Photosynthesis, in a nutshell, is all organic matter on the planet,” Linda Rzoska says. “It's produced by cells that convert energy from the sun into energy containing macro-molecules. It’s essential to our planet’s carbon system and essential to all life on the planet. Without photosynthesis, we wouldn’t be here at all.”

Anna Ill (left) and Linda Rzoska

Rzoska, whose artwork is known for its portrayal of trees and nature, says she was inspired to create a project centered around the process of photosynthesis after hearing a podcast about trees and other plants produce oxygen and food from air, light, and water.

Ceramic artist Anna Ill says the artists involved in the project meet about once a month for a series of workshops.

"We’ve had some digital photography work, some printmaking. We also work with literature. There are a number of books out there right about what plants know and how plants exist together, how they are more than just landscaping or food or objects. What is our engagement with them? There are a lot of thinkers out there now that are encouraging us to be engaged with the vegetal world.”

The show was initially going to be a solo exhibition. But Rzoska decided it was far more expansive than she could take on alone. So, in 2018, she made it a group effort. The Photosynthesis Project will have numerous exhibits, poetry readings, and other shows throughout the coming year.

The first major exhibit will be November 1 at Kalamazoo Valley Community College's Center for New Media Galleries in downtown Kalamazoo. The opening reception starts at 5:30 p.m. Fifteen of the artists will be represented at the exhibit.

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