Local sustainable, eco-artists use their craft to ask questions about the planet

Sustainability isn’t just something Pontiac artist Jeff Schofield thinks about when Earth Day rolls around. It’s a tenet of his work.

Schofield is a sculptor and mixed media artist whose work explores the intersection of humans and nature, and how one impacts the other. An architect for 35 years in Paris and Dubai before turning into art full-time, Schofield has created large installation sculptures from razed barns, burned branches from Michigan forest fires, even weeds and plants he’s found near his home in Pontiac.

“I want to be provocative,” said Schofield, a graduate of the Cranbrook Academy of Art where he focused on sculpture. “I want to confront the viewer.”

Schofield is one of many local artists who use nature and the environment as their muse, which is especially relevant now as Earth Day approaches on Friday. He calls himself a sustainable artist, using found objects in his work, but others call themselves eco-artists.

Leslie Sobel is an Ann Arbor-based environmental artist, for example, who has created prints from the algae that once bloomed in Lake Erie. She co-curated an exhibition in West Bloomfield earlier this year, “Environmentally Speaking,” that aimed to both raise conversations about climate change and its impact but also a sense of healing. A component of that exhibit, also curated by local artist Laura Earle, opened earlier this month at the Nurture Nature Center in Easton, Pennsylvania.

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