Art Beat: Sustainable Art | WMUK

Art Beat: Sustainable Art

Oct 21, 2021

Michigan Forest Fire, by Jeff Schofield
Credit Jeff Schofield

What we throw away, Jeff Schofield picks up and turns into art. Schofield spent much of his career as a sustainable architect, but then decided to go in a different direction. 


He incorporates environmental issues to his art, bringing attention to the climate crisis using found objects, discarded items, and bits and pieces of the ruined landscape into sculptures and installations. Schofield will be the artist-in-residence at the Prairie Ronde Artist Residency in Vicksburg in November through April.

Jeff Schofield
Credit Jeff Schofield

“At this point, I’m just focusing on my artistic career,” Schofield says. “But it started with architecture a long, long time ago. I’m a sustainable architect, and after a 30-year career designing sustainable buildings, now I’m moving on to sustainable sculpture. Partly because the big recession 10 years ago stopped my career. By that I mean we were doing some wonderful building projects, but things just went bad for a long time.”

Schofield brought his skills in sustainable architecture to his art, gathering “trash” and turning it into eye-catching beauty while bringing a powerful message to his viewers about what we are doing to the Earth.

“A burnt pine forest, submerged tree trunks, collapsing barns and littered beaches,” Schofield says. “These landscapes embody generations of conflict between humanity and nature. My art practice explores the acts and remnants of human intrusions upon the earth. Working directly with the environment, I create immersive installations depicting visual aspects of climate change.”

In November 2021, Schofield will be coming to Prairie Ronde Artist Residency in Vicksburg to spend six months building a sculpture from found materials in the area.

“My proposal is to use found materials from Vicksburg, around Prairie Ronde, to use this along with resin, concrete, and plaster, to create mile-marker type of sculptures,” Schofield says. “By that I mean, smallish sculptures that would sit on the ground, but using firm elements from the ground. That is, concrete, soil, or clay from the locality, along with bits of plastic or metal that I would find in the streets, things that people would throw away. The idea is that I want to go big this time. With a six-month residency, I want to go very tall and make big, long cylinders which would be more like core samples.”

Schofield’s thought is to show what archaeologists a thousand years into the future might find about our society today if they were to drill down into the ground to find earth mixed with all the detritus of life today.

The Prairie Ronde Artist Residency provides access to the 420,000 square foot former Lee Paper Company paper mill and the adjacent 80 acres of property to use as inspiration. Artists are also encouraged to connect with members of the village community and the area's creative community.

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