ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale will debut “Pa-Hay-Okee—Land of Grassy Water,” an environmental art exhibit dedicated to the urgency of preserving and restoring Florida’s fragile ecology and Everglades ecosystem in honor of Earth Day on Thursday, April 14.
With support from Funding Arts Broward, “Pa-Hay-Okee kicks off on April 14 with an artist panel discussion from 6 to 7 p.m., followed by an opening reception and preview of the exhibit’s artworks from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free to both opening night events and to the exhibition itself, which runs through June 26, from Mondays through Saturdays.
“Pa-Hay-Okee” guest curator and ARTSail founder Ombretta Agró Andruff, along with many of the Pa-Hay-Okee featured artists, will stop by for the exhibition’s debut.
“Art has become an indispensable method for increasing knowledge, raising appreciation and inspiring action on the environment,” explained Andruff. “We hope that through this exhibition and its accompanying educational program, our audience will explore, fall in love with and learn to care for the life-sustaining ecosystem right in our backyard.”
The idea for “Pa-Hay-Okee,” a Seminole Tribe phrase meaning “grassy waters,” originated in a powerful online discussion hosted by ArtServe in 2020 with environmental activist Robert Mitchell that explored the environmental complexities of the Lake Okeechobee region and addressed how artists can actively help spur action on social and ecological, resiliency and sustainability issues impacting Florida communities.
Since then, Andruff has conducted expeditions through the Everglades, interviewing activists, scientists, and environmental experts along the way, to better understand the challenges faced by the Kissimmee-Lake Okeechobee-Everglades watershed, as it was originally known.
Together with Andruff, ArtServe curator Sophie Bonet has gathered an impactful collection of multi-disciplinary works and performances designed to inspire meaningful discussion, along with public understanding and appreciation for the plight and beauty of the Everglades. Exhibiting artists include Priscilla Aleman, Alissa Alfonso, Elizabeth Condon, Jenna Efrein, Simon Faithfull, Lucinda Linderman, Deborah Mitchell, Christina Pettersson, and Laurencia Strauss, among others.
“Pa-Hay-Okee” artists have captured the beauty, fragility, and diversity of the Florida wetlands and the flora and fauna that inhabits them in unique and profound ways. The artists’ contributions span a variety of media, like lens-based work by Faithfull and Strauss; fiber work and tapestries by Alfonso and Linderman; powerful multi-media installations and drawings by Pettersson, Mitchell, Efrein, and Aleman; and delicate watercolors by Condon.
“Pa-Hay-Okee” will feature installations and engagements that promote ecological awareness and explore threats to Florida’s environment, while drawing a sense of urgency to the human impact on South Florida’s fragile ecosystem. Among those works is Efrein’s giant installation of plastic bags that physically overwhelms the viewer, unequivocally imparting the crushing devastation of single-use plastic bag pollution as merely a single component of environmental destruction.
“Pa-Hay-Okee” concludes on Sunday, June 26 (final day by-appointment only). ArtServe will host a closing reception on Friday, June 17, featuring multidisciplinary artistic performances such as poetry reading and video screenings.
ArtServe is located at 1350 E. Sunrise Boulevard, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33304. Call (954) 462-8190 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.