Below is the text by Jan O’Brien, from Yale Climate Connections, featuring Mary Iverson, whose work uses shipping containers as commentary on current consumer culture.
An audio version can be accessed here.
Artist Shows Shipping Containers in Unexpected Places
With shipping containers littering natural landscapes, artist targets consumer society.
by Jan O’Brien
For artist Mary Iverson, the stroke of her paintbrush is a form of environmental activism.
More than fifteen years ago, she was looking for a quiet place to paint and set up her easel next to the Seattle Harbor. She began painting pictures of the ships and shipping containers she saw in the port.
IVERSON: “I started looking at the shipping container cranes, and getting drawn to those, and just more and more fascinated by the colors and the shapes.”
Iverson realized that these shipping containers represented a huge volume of goods being moved, and she began to consider the end result of all that consumption.
IVERSON: “Things are really cheap, and then we buy them and use them and put them in the landfill.”
Disturbed by the amount of resources and energy wasted by our throw-away society, Iverson began exploring it in her work, using the shipping container as an abstract symbol of waste.
Today her art depicts the brightly colored containers in pristine landscapes. She shows them far away from the Seattle harbor – in national parks, next to glaciers, and even on the Great Wall of China.
By juxtaposing shipping containers against places we value and want to protect, Iverson’s art asks people to consider the consequences of consumerism.
Reporting credit: Justyna Bicz/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Artwork photos: Courtesy of Mary Iverson.
Yale Climate Connections is a nonpartisan, multimedia service providing daily broadcast radio programming and original web-based reporting, commentary, and analysis on the issue of climate change, one of the greatest challenges and stories confronting modern society.