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Compass Magazine, May 2003

Taichung artists bring environmental art to Matsu

By Cheryl Robbins

       Sustainable development is the hot topic of this century. Thus, it is no wonder that the concepts of environmental protection have entered all facets of life, from the home to the factory to the office and even to the arts. This has led to the creation of a distinct field called environmental art. Although there is as yet no definitive categorization of environmental art, it can be thought of as art that helps to call attention to environmental issues or proposes new ways for people to get along with nature.

       Taichung is home to a number of environmental artists known--as the saying goes--for using "one man's junk to create another man's treasure". For example, Huang Chyi-wen (黃圻文) uses posters, newspapers, magazines and even shopping bags as backgrounds for his paintings and modern calligraphy works, while David Wang (王振瑋) utilizes various discarded items to create sculptures and Li Chao-tsang (李朝倉) develops elaborate art pieces from egg shells.

       These artists hope to challenge society to change its views on waste. They believe that almost everything that we throw away has a use, if only it is looked at creatively. With a change in value systems, the amount of garbage and waste will naturally decrease, leading to the benefits of a better environment and a society that is not solely focused on cash logic.

      From May 1 to 6, these and other Taichung artists will be on the offshore island of Matzu to host an environmental arts festival. Matzu is rich in natural beauty, including sand and pebble beaches, sand dunes, atolls and precipitous cliffs, and is also rich in culture. Niujiau, of the Matzu township of Nangan, where this environmental arts festival will be centered, has been named a model "green" community by the central government's Environmental Protection Administration. Thus, Nangan is the perfect backdrop to this festival.

       Over the six days, there will be a number of DIY environmental arts and crafts classes. Participants will be able to learn hands-on how everyday items such as metal milk powder cans, plastic bottles and candles can be turned into play things. Other DIY projects will include creating paper sculptures from magazines, and unique boxes from fruit peels. There will also be an aluminum can and plastic bottle innovation camp. A special event will make use of used (and cleaned) plastic spoons from a fruit slush shop in Taichung and brought to Matzu to form sculptures. The festival will also feature an exhibit of works by participating artists.

      These artists will also be on hand to give lectures about environmental art and the unique field of art therapy. The events are expected to inspire the public to find new uses for things once considered waste or junk, increase awareness of environmental art and promote tourism to Taiwan's offshore islands.
This festival is organized by Rebeca Yu (俞瑞玲), founder of Taichung’s 616 Art Collective, a combination art exhibition and art education center. It is hoped that this will be just the beginning of an art relationship between Taichung and Matzu as the collective is working to convert abandoned buildings on that island into a flourishing art village.

       For more information about this event or the 616 Art Collective, call Rebeca Yu at (0953) 355549 or (0927) 218477.



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