‘High Water Mark’: Climate Activist-Artist Mira Lehr Champions Nature in Exhibit Online From Mennello Museum of American Art
Mira Lehr, one of the art world’s pioneer climate activists, honors her 50th anniversary of championing nature with “High Water Mark” at the Mennello Museum of American Art.
The museum’s new online art resources feature fun and creative digital tools for parents and children staying at home for social distancing.
Mira Lehr has been championing environmental action since 1969, decades before others jumped on the climate bandwagon.
It was fifty-one years ago that Buckminster Fuller chose Lehr for his groundbreaking World Game project. This was during the first lunar landing and a year before the first Earth Day, which celebrates its 50th anniversary on April 22.
Now, noting Lehr’s artistic turning point towards championing the environment, the Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando has invited the artist to present her latest exhibition with a fateful title: High Water Mark.
Since the museum is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, a new series of online initiatives bring Mira Lehr’s art to audiences who are staying at home now because of social distancing.
The Mennello Museum is also providing online tools for families while at home with their children during the pandemic, based on Mira Lehr’s exhibition. Parents can visit the museum’s social media channels: facebook.com/MennelloMuseum and instagram.com/mennellomuseum (#YourMennelloMoment).
Lehr is calling her new online series MiraVision, and in the spirit of Fuller’s vision of Spaceship Earth the artist strives for uplifting and forward-looking messages of hope and optimism.
Lehr is sharing the museum’s virtual tours with her audiences at this new video-tour miralehr.com/high-water-mark-exhibition-videos and at this new gallery photo-tour miralehr.com/exhibition-phototour.
“If we can heal the planet, we can heal ourselves,” says Lehr. “Have we reached the High Water Mark?“
“What we are going through now, because of the pandemic, helps us with a new vision of the planet in different ways,” adds Lehr. “What we couldn’t demonstrate before is now becoming apparent for mankind to see. Less pollution from fossil fuels is creating cleaner air over our cities. In the oceans, rivers and canals, we can see how the waters are clearing.”
“Now, more than ever, the artists are healers for our souls. As the scientists, doctors, nurses, and first-responders are fighting for our physical survival, the artists can serve to help nurture our culture.”
To kick off her new online series, Lehr emphasizes two of Buckminster Fuller’s visionary quotes that shine a light on our current global crisis:
“We are called to be the architects of the future, not its victims.”
― Buckminster Fuller
“People sometimes say, I wonder how it feels to be on a spaceship, . . . and I say: Well, look around you, you are on one . . . How does it feel? You are on Spaceship Earth.”
― Buckminster Fuller
Lehr was one of only two visual artists selected by Fuller in 1969, alongside a group of scientists, poets, economists, performers, and thinkers from around the country.
Fuller’s team of cultural pioneers worked on ways to make human life sustainable on the planet. As our beleaguered world marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in the grips of a global pandemic, Fuller’s vision about Spaceship Earth rings true now more than ever.
“It was a time of great hope. For the first time mankind could see the whole earth in its entirety from the moon, and as an artist I was inspired by a new global vision,” says Lehr. “Participating in Bucky Fuller’s 1969 World Game changed my life forever, and influences my art to this day.”
At the age of 85 and with a career that spans more than six decades of artmaking, Lehr is creating more new work now than at any other point in her life ─ with a heightened sense of urgency.
Most of the paintings in Lehr’s current exhibition at the Mennello Museum of American Art are monumental in size, one painting is 40 feet long and comprised of 12 different large-scale panels that circle the gallery.
The immersive watery world features environments of imminent, overwhelming beauty that beg for respite and call for caution to protect our planet. The museum’s new online tours show Lehr’s giant mangroves climbing across the gallery.
Many of these works in Lehr’s new exhibition have never been seen this way before. For the first time, her majestic Mangrove Labyrinth installations have now been reimagined as The Protectors.
These sculptural behemoths are reconfigured up onto the actual walls of the museum, climbing sideways across the gallery walls to surround the viewer. This emphasizes their guardian status, showing how Mangroves surround and protect coastal areas against flooding.
Lehr’s nature-based work encompasses painting, sculpture and video installations. She uses non-traditional media such as gunpowder, fire, Japanese paper, dyes and welded steel.
Lehr is also known for her igniting and exploding fuses to create lines of fire across her paintings, as seen in the video Burnt Offerings.
“The time to act is now. We must start referring to this perilous issue as what this really is: ClimateArmageddon,” adds Lehr. “Many of the same issues that were brought to light 50 years ago during the World Game and the first Earth Day are coming back to haunt us all now.”