Arts & Culture / Mosaic / April 22, 2010

Dan Peterman: spread environmentalism through art

Tuesday evening, Dan Peterman eagerly shared his experiences creating art related to ecology. Some of the examples of his artwork included safely encapsulating hazardous materials from an abandoned lab, exposing the corruption of a university that had abandoned the lab with these materials still in it.

Another example of some of his projects included making cheese made from DDT-infected cows, encasing that cheese in a red wax and setting it in a refrigerator in between two buildings on a sidewalk. The cheese caused one reporter to stop and ask questions about the project, which eventually led to the removal of the harmful substances within the community.

A piece that many Chicagoans would recognize was the design of the long table representing the “endless feast,” as Peterman described it, which sits at Millennium Park. Another Chicago piece mentioned that Chicagoans might know about is the dance floor for the Chicago Summer Dance festival.

In his lecture, Peterman raised the question of “what do we do?” The question related to various projects dealing with having to face the reality of trash instead of having it out of sight. One of his projects was done in a landfill off the side of a mountain. For one piece, he modified a Swiss army knife to hold a cup along with the other array of gadgets that a Swiss army knife usually has. Peterman said it was “engaging in the utopia of a knife.”

Students seemed very pleased with the lecture, asking thoughtful questions during the question-and-answer period. When asked how she felt about the talk, senior Michelle Gerber felt that the lecture was “beautiful” and “[discussed] the intersection of art and activism.

“I think it’s really cool when things intersect,” she said.

Carolyn Hanig

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