The Frogs Are Croaking

It’s fun having brilliant friends; and all-the-more-so to have brilliant friends who can express their brilliance through talent. Jennifer Sohn is one of those special people.

This evening I was lucky to attend an art exhibition at SOMAarts Cultural Center, called “Blue Planet”. The show was the demonstrative element in a week-long conference dedicated to the ways in which art enhances our understanding and appreciation of the environment, and inspires activism on behalf of the ecological systems impacted by human activity. Jen’s latest work, Toxic Habits, a portion of which is pictured above, was featured in the exhibition.

The piece plays on a traditional biology lab archetype: the animal specimen preserved in a jar of formaldehyde. Jen’s favored medium is textile; and, for Toxic Habits, she stitched-together dozens of colorful fabric frogs. These are not healthy specimens, however. Each of Jen’s frogs displays the disfiguring effect of untoward genetic mutation. If frogs are a bellwether species, demonstrating early susceptibility to ever-increasing toxicity of our water and climate change, Jen’s frogs sound the alarm of environmental degradation.

Jen embalms her specimens in common two liter plastic soda bottles, rather than laboratory glassware, signifying the impact our unsustainable, convenience-craving patterns of consumption have on the broader environment. Describing the piece for the “Blue Planet” exhibition catalog, she notes that less than 25% of recyclable soda bottles are actually recycled; the remainder are left to contribute to our toxic landfills and even more environmentally harmful situations — like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Toxic Habits is a sad and eloquent reminder of the externalized costs of what we anthropocentrically — and ironically — refer to as a “high quality of life”.

6 Responses to “The Frogs Are Croaking”


  1. 1 Donna 27 June 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Brilliant!

  2. 2 Anita 28 June 2010 at 1:23 am

    Wow! What an amazing woman.

  3. 3 Carole Beadle 29 June 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Hi Jennifer,

    Such success in accomplishing these meaningful pieces…congratulations.

    Carole

    • 4 Jennifer Sohn 4 July 2010 at 10:47 am

      Thank you Carole,
      My frogs, if it’s successful in addressing the environmental issues, were created only with such encouragement of inspiring teachers and friends who believed that art can be as powerful as activism.

  4. 5 Bharti 10 July 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Wow! Just saw the documentary Flow for the second time…and they talk about what is happening to frogs because of the contaminated water. Wish I could’ve seen the exhibit.

  5. 6 david harris 26 July 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Jennifer,

    This is so typically you. Insightful, articulate in a disturbingly
    familiar but fresh way and beautifully executed. I too hope this immediately understandable piece/message gets the attention it deserves as it’s impact could really help shed light onto this
    “canary in a coalmine” tragedy happening while we all sleepwalk from mall to mall-

    Dave


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