In recent years, I’ve been drawn to how we humans affect our planet,
especially the sea and how we have polluted our waters and sea creatures. My projects began with the focus on problems, but that quickly became depressing. Instead, I now center my work around solutions.
In highlighting natural environmental solutions, I research organisms that help maintain balance in our planet to feature in my work. Larvaceans, a pinkie sized sea creature, help remove microplastics in our oceans. Another creature, the mysterious and ever changing siphonophore, sequesters several times the amount of carbon emitted by all the world’s cars by eating carbon-rich organisms.
It has been said that if we do not change our values and behaviors radically, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. One reason people do not change is lack of information, and my art aims to increase viewers’ awareness. My research has also inspired action-oriented participatory art projects. One invites people to write a new eco-pledge which will later become an art installation (thesnowballeffectproject.org). Another offers workshops for school-age children, showing them how they can help keep plastics out of the ocean.
I use reusable and natural materials to project a message of sustainability, while limiting my own environmental impact. Much of my work utilizes encaustic, made from beeswax and tree resin, and is an important part of my practice. In another series, I substituted wood panels for a biodegradable mushroom based material as a substrate. This material is used as packaging to replace plastic and foam core.
My work brings attention to the ways in which we must keep making the Earth livable. I want to offer optimism in a time when it is in short supply and urge us to continue to think creatively about solutions to one of our major world issues.
Donna Hamil Talman’s art has been exhibited in Art Basel (Miami), Venice (Italy), NYC, Houston, Seattle, Chicago, and throughout New England. It is published in La Fotografia, The Book of Alternative Photo Processes, Photographic Possibilities, and Creative Vision. Her art is in numerous collections. She has received several grants, done several artist residencies, and holds an M.A. from Clark University.