Navigation: Lake Erie – Great Lakes

Bloom 1, Artist book, handmade recycled hemp/cotton paper, Lake Erie Algae,
Milkweed paper, found wood, cord, balloon thread, fishing line, beeswax, woodcut, 2019-20. Most all materials sourced from Lake Erie.

Timothy Frerichs has spent the past 25 years using his artwork to address the impact humans have on the environment. His current work addresses human activity as the dominant influence on the environmental problems plaguing Lake Erie and the Great Lakes system. Frerichs writes:

“Climate change coupled with other human manipulations are altering the Great Lakes system at an unprecedented level. Multiple points of pollution, invasive species, lake level fluctuations, heavy trade traffic, and over-fishing are all dramatically impacting the health and future of the Great Lakes. The rising temperatures of the Lakes are already having notable tangible effects: less ice coverage during the winter, significant toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie and Lake Superior, higher lake evaporation rates, and habitat impacts on the (remaining) native flora and fauna. This has affected the Great Lakes area negatively with regional, national, and international consequences. Combined, Lake Erie, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Ontario contain 20% of the earth’s freshwater in the world’s largest freshwater system. Needless to say, the Great Lakes system is one of the most valuable resources for the North American Continent and their future health is interlinked with ours.”

It is important to Frerichs to create his work as sustainably as possible. He sources materials locally and often finds creative ways to use the objects he has picked up along the coastline of Lake Erie. Even the frames he uses are made from flotsam wood. Frerichs uses kozo, mitsumata, and milkweed fibers to create delicate translucent papers which he stencils with blue and green recycled linen paper pulp to re-create satellite images of algae blooms caused by agricultural and residential herbicide and pesticide run off. Even the algae itself is collected and used as a drawing material. Some of the handmade paper-pulp paintings are collaged with fragments of vintage Lake Erie maps and embroidered with plastic thread, from balloons found along the shore. The embroidered arrows reference surface currents directing the trash and algae bloom in the lake. Frerichs’ work investigates representations of human interaction with the natural world. He is inspired by the ways we map our environment: using a sounding weight to create maps of the sea floor for nautical charts, drawing astronomical charts, taking hallucinogenic mushrooms to alter perception.

Frerichs is a professor of art in the Department of Visual Arts and New Media at SUNY Fredonia. He has received numerous awards, and his drawings, prints and multimedia work have been widely exhibited nationally and internationally. His artwork is included in national and international public and private collections. Frerichs is one of three recipients of Global Warming Art Project grants from the Arts Services Initiative of Western New York, Inc.

The Navigation: Lake Erie – Great Lakes project is a traveling exhibition and installation addressing how climate change is impacting Lake Erie and the Great Lakes system. The exhibition will be on view at the Morgan Conservatory gallery from February 12 to March 19 and will travel around the Great Lakes region, as well as internationally, to Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey. It will be accompanied by a series of talks by scientists and experts in the fields of environmental science and pollution.

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1754 East 47th Street

Cleveland, Ohio 44103