Turning negative space into a plea for environmental respect

Pat Brentano cuts paper silhouettes of birds and trees to remind people to respect the environment. Video by Eric Schultz and Joe Conlon for State of the Arts NJ, a co-production of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

When one of Pat Brentano’s neighbors in her upscale suburban town of Westfield, New Jersey, cut down 21 mature trees to build a gigantic house, Brentano was horrified. She used her anger as a channel for her creative work; Endangered bird species, dependent on trees, became a central focus of her art.

Six years later, Brentano’s “Bird Apocalypse” is on display at the Karl and Helen Burger Gallery at Kean University. This large work on paper uses negative space to convey the chaos that results when birds are deprived of their natural habitats.

Brentano said, “My work is about observation, exploration, and a deep spiritual attachment to the natural world. I want to create skillful, innovative work that communicates environmental responsibility and visual literacy.”

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