Building a Rainbow
Amy Youngs’ Building a Rainbow is a vermiponics art installation. Vermiponics are a system where the waste produced by worms is used to supply nutrients for the plants to grow, and in this situation that means growing lettuce, basil, wheatgrass and herbs. Different items have been collected from thrift stores to create the piece like a plastic oven mitt, along with trash that is perfect for a vermiponic like teabags, uneaten food, and newspaper. The worms compost the food and waste; this is used in order for the plants to get fertilized, then the plants produce food for the humans in the house, and for the worms and fish. The art piece is very colorful, with each item that grows a plant showing a different spectrum of the rainbow. While it has been created clean and crisply, there is a home-like appeal due to the thrifted, recycled plant holders.
The concept in Building a Rainbow is very similar to Youngs other works; she likes to normalize environmentally friendly concepts so that others will be empowered to also use them in their households. Youngs is very in favor of recycling, and living a more sustainable life. She has lots of worms in her own home, used to decompose waste and create fertilizer for her own gardens. The elements that were used in Building a Rainbow were chosen so that others also have the ability to create their own vermiponics and add more sustainable to their own households; anyone has the ability to run over to a thrift store and pick up these make-shift plant holders. In an interview with Amy Youngs, she said that she would love if one day it would be normalized to have worms in your homes decomposing waste, that it would no longer be considered artwork and that would be just fine with her.
Kristen Bradley finds it is,” Great to see the concepts behind aquaponics infiltrating (sorry) artist's’ practice and widening the boundaries of important conversations around small-scale, closed-loop, food-growing solutions…” Bradley, Kristen (June 8th, 2012) Aquaponics as Art.
Art has the ability to change ones perspective on a matter, and see it through a different lens, and this is what Amy Youngs is trying to accomplish with worms. No longer are they just the wriggly creatures that children try to bring into the house, but instead they are providing fertilizer for the plants in your life, maybe helping grow what you will eat for dinner. The worms are hidden, and instead a beautiful piece of artwork is created that anyone could have in their home. There is a great and necessary push for environmental sustainability and Amy Youngs is trying to make it more approachable through her artwork.
Aganetha Dyck has a similar idea behind much of her artwork by working to change the communication between people and insects, but she chooses to work with bees. Dyck rents some bees, and has them create their beehive around statues, football helmets, and other items in order to create her beautiful artwork. Not only does this allow Dyck to learn more about the bees, but also share their intricate hives in new ways to expand the appreciation that humans have for this disappearing species. Dyck takes objects that you may see in your everyday life, and uses them as a canvas to explain the intricate work that honey bees accomplish. So many people, when they see a honeybee, want to run away and call the exterminator; these actions are just one of the small reasons bee populations have been plummeting. Dyck’s works helps to teach that bees are not something to fear and kill, but to appreciate and help to repopulate. Both Dyck's and Youngs are working to evolve the understand of these animals from harmful or gross to helpful and necessary.
Wilma the Pig by Helen Mayer and Newton Harris also holds some similarities. This collaborative team allows you to slow down and look at the environment in front of the audience in a way that is different and meaningful. Mayer and Harrison exhibited a hog pasture in the MOCA Exhibit, to show how pigs can and should interact with the land around them. Many people take the environment around them for granted; this artwork allows for the viewer to better understand how the plants around them come to be, and how animals are supposed to interact with the land. The piece also focuses on how people will need to learn how to survive, grow their own food, including learning how to create topsoil. Amy Youngs piece has an educational element, especially if people take the opportunity to follow along with her instructions and create this rainbow themselves. After Wilma the Pig exhibit ended, the pasture was brought to a school in Boston so that the students could continue to garden it and learn more about how plants interact and grow and topsoil is created.
Building a Rainbow was part of the exhibition Farmed: The New Agronomics in Spaces Gallery in Cleveland, Ohio from May 13 - July 10, 201