Artist Mary Ciani, recently retired from the Texas A&M visualization faculty, uses water imagery to emote feelings from tranquility to rage in a series of 40 increasingly inundated landscapes visualizing, in part, the consequences of global climate change
The exhibit, “FLOOD River Village City Storm Deluge” runs through Oct. 14, 2015 in the Wright Gallery, located on the second floor of the Langford Architecture Center's Building A on the Texas A&M campus.
Known as Mary Saslow to her students and her peers in the Department of Visualization, the artist has always used her maiden name, Ciani, on her art. She will attend a reception at the gallery 4:30-6:30 p.m. Sept. 15.
The drawings, sequenced in the exhibit as a wordless graphic novel, were inspired by several locations, including Berkeley, Calif., where she observed the sweep of San Francisco Bay, city towers rising above the fog and the bay’s bridges connecting cities like conjoined islands.
Her work, she said, was also inspired by the sea cliffs of Bolinas, California; a village near Belfast, Maine; Washington, D.C. and the contemplation and community in College Station.
“This is a show for people who love drawings, an unusual, traditional thing to do in an age of exhibits consisting of photographs, digital paintings, and videos,” she said.
The exhibit's sequence begins with rivers swirling and gliding through an idyllic countryside, calligraphic in their grace and balletic in their acknowledgment of land, sky, cloud and forest, said Stephen Caffey, assistant professor of architecture.
“As humans become technologically advanced, towers rise as testaments to their reckless ambition,” said Caffey, describing Ciani’s drawings. “Humanity begins to first commodify and then outstrip its resources and the images take on a darkened portent — soon the water serves as the only remnant of the natural world.”
The work, added Caffey, traces a narrative that takes on new dimensions of relevance and urgency with each new instance of unprecedented meteorological extremes.
“The exhibit depicts what we have to lose,” said Ciani. “We can renegotiate the Faustian bargain we made with Industrial Revolution technology, which led to the warming of our environment in exchange for an easier life using fossil fuels.”
“Then,” she said, “the oceans may cool, the storms may weaken, and the seas may rise no more.”
The pieces were drawn with professional markers on 11" x 14" paper and exhibited as prints ranging up to 40" x 50".
Ciani's work has previously been featured in solo exhibitions in the Jung Center and Pembroke Gallery in Houston and the Hill Country Arts Foundation and in competitive group shows in New York’s Digital Salon, International Digital Works on Paper, and galleries at the University of South Carolina and Texas State University.
The exhibit is the first of a series of shows at the Wright Gallery during the 2015-16 academic year.