Spring is in full swing in the Valley and along with it come the smells of orange blossoms, vibrant pinks of cacti flowers, and ever increasing minutes of sunshine. Maryles Kubiceck’s most recent exhibition at Five15 Arts, Going, Going, Gone, raises the question, how will our surrounding natural environment be able to sustain us if we continue to mistreat it? Kubiceck has narrowed in on the negative effects of herbicides and pesticides on monarchs, honey bees, and bats – the very creatures whose hard work we benefit from in the form of smells, tastes, and sights most apparent during this season.
Lured into Five15 by a swarm of warm, inviting colors, one first notices the impeccable craft of Kubiceck’s work. Having devoted long hours to lovingly depicting these animals, it’s clear she has a deep respect for them. Her talent and techniques are far reaching, having used a combination of mixed media prints, diffused reliefs, monosilkscreens, and hand drawings, among several others. The intricacies of her craft hint at the many layers behind the issues she’s addressing.
After seducing the viewer with the visual beauty of her images, Kubiceck then delivers a sobering reality. The very products we humans have created to increase crop production have become detrimental to the animals that allow them to grow. This is most evident in the show’s largest piece, The Pollinators, which incorporates found posters, mono-screen prints, and defused reliefs. She carefully layers hand made images with scientific diagrams, and texts revealing the names of the toxic chemicals imprinted onto the creatures below. An informative text to the side summarizes the importance of these animals in our lives. To note a few, one out of every three bites of food relies on bees and bats eat over 2.4 million pounds of insects a year.
Accompanying pieces depict the trio of animals in a variety of mediums and skilled techniques. A couple that stood out were La mariposa monarca I and II, photopolymer intaglios of the monarch butterfly delicately and scientifically highlighting the beauty of such an insect. On the adjacent wall sit a series of three prints, honoring the bat, bee, and butterfly individually. As the animals are represented in grayscale, their background of cogs and wheels are lit aflame with lush hues of red and orange. A reminder that we’ve imposed our manmade, encroaching built environment in a way that has become damaging to the very creatures that provide life.
It’s possible that through her art, Kubiceck hopes to stir our emotional engines enough to initiate action. Or at least to reenter the world better informed about these ecological issues – or else us humans may become the next endangered species.