Litterscape was a one time collaborative, viewer-interactive temporary installation with artists Heidi Haire, Jeffrey Hemming, and Johnson Hunt. On Friday, April 2nd 2010, gallery goers were invited to embellish murals of Florida landscape beach scenes with their choice of refuse.
The artists collected litter and organized it by color onto the shape of a “painter’s palette” painted onto the gallery floor. Gallery visitors were invited by bikini or beach clad artists to cover the mural over with litter, mostly take-out food containers, in a process coined by the artists, litter-by-numbers.
Most people playfully chose from the palette their preferred color of refuse and affixed it to the fence-like structure covering the paintings. The fences resemble those seen along the beach or near sand dunes. Beer and boxed wine were served in “tropical motif” 2oz disposable cups, and food was packaged as “single serving” individual portions. These in turn were added to the “scenes,” shifting the responsibility from “those who littered” to “themselves,” bringing attention to the fact that we are all part of the problem and part of the solution.
Tropical music played as the crowded room busily worked until the murals were obliterated, with only traces of sky remaining. The artists were overjoyed with the enthusiasm, the level of participation, and the thoughtful comments from the hundreds of viewers, who expressed gratitude for the opportunity to take part and get involved in the work. Many viewers stayed for long stretches in the gallery just watching the progression and others at “work,” choosing a piece and thoughtfully adding it to one of the four murals. Others returned several times and remarked on the changes.
Almost nothing remained of the “litter-palette” on the floor aside from a handful of straws and bits of unrecognizable polyurethane foam. The colorful murals, once painterly sunset and palm tree inspired, were now just as colorfully, shouting advertisements. Words like “NATURAL” and “SALE” stand out as well as the recognizable shapes, colors and logos of fast food restaurants, soda, chips and candy wrappers. The all too common red plastic cup with white lining, mostly used in a match of “beer-pong” in college towns across America makes a striking appearance atop of a red sunset – Red sky at night, sailors delight.