By Katie Mogg
13Forest gallery is offering the Arlington community thought-provoking art in a new exhibit that explores themes surrounding climate change, environmentalism, and social justice.
To create “Exquisite Entanglement,” Yuko Oda, a multimedia artist from Roslindale who grew up in Japan, collaborated with Allison Maria Rodriguez, a first-generation Cuban-American multidisciplinary artist from Fort Point.
The artists hope the installment will provide an immersive experience encouraging audiences to broaden their worldview. The exhibit runs through Sept. 23 at 167A Massachusetts Ave. There is no admission fee.
“We’re a commercial gallery,” explained gallery director Caitee Hoglund. “But we do like to also do exhibitions that are reflecting the political moment for issues people are concerned with.”
Hoglund said Rodriguez and Oda take a two-pronged approach to their artistic rendition of climate change by acknowledging its severity while still including bright elements. She hopes the artists’ efforts will resonate with viewers.
“It’s really easy to get bogged down in despair about the climate situation,” Hoglund said. “[The artists] just have a great way of still bringing some hope to the situation.”
Making environmentalist art is nothing new to Rodriguez. But her video installment, called “Once in a Lifetime,” is a result of an unparalleled experience she had while volunteering for scientists in Costa Rica in 2019.
“I had the opportunity to see a juvenile blue whale that was dead on the beach,” Rodriguez said. “We all went there because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity ... I could see why the scientists were so excited, but at the same time, this shouldn’t be happening.”
Rodriguez wants her work in “Exquisite Entanglement” to serve as a memorial to the whale, but also to the piece of humanity that is lost when we live a lifestyle that kills fellow creatures on Earth.
“The idea of this exquisite entanglement sort of plays on the tension that there is between everything being interconnected and how beautiful that is, but also how detrimental that has been to our planet,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve been destroying and marching toward our own destruction.”
Through her work, Oda said she is trying to convey the beauty of nature and the interconnectivity of all beings. Yet, Oda’s contribution to the exhibit has a jarring aspect: It portrays a version of nature devoid of mankind.
“The core message is that human beings have dominated this planet and destroyed the environment to a point where we are at the precipice looking down and wondering ‘Can we make it through this?’ And now is the time to reverse course,” Oda said. “But whether or not we reverse course will not matter to nature because nature will outlive us and will continue to evolve and be beautiful.”
Oda’s contribution to “Exquisite Entanglement” includes a series of images depicting the end of nature as we know it, as well as a surreal interpretation of nature’s resilience.
“The work that I’m showing, it ends up being about the calamities of what’s happening to nature and then its resilience and ability to heal itself,” Oda said. “It is about awakening our senses and perception.”
To see more of Yuko Od's work, visit www.yukooda.com.