A”poetry and pose” installation at Mango Tango’s upcoming Grand Holiday Bazaar offers critical commentary on climate change, but with a twist: the poems superimposed onto the nature photography by Shaun Pennington offers a view of the world through the eyes of the animals impacted by changes in our environment.
For Pennington, who founded the Source in the late 1990s, the idea was decades in its evolution. As a child, she grew up on a 500-acre farm with animals as companions and, even in the summers, was out exploring the woods. Inspired by Taoist philosophy, which holds that humans and animals should live in balance with the universe, she channeled the connection into her everyday life and recently finished a two-year program at the Center for Action and Contemplation that revolved around Franciscan and Christian mysticism.
She didn’t put the two together, however, until Easter 2020 when, after local beaches were closed to activity in the midst of the global pandemic, she returned to her favorite spot – Magens Bay – and was overwhelmed by the wildlife she found had returned to shores and surrounding area.
“Everyone was talking about it,” Pennington said. “The beach was filled with animals right after it reopened, birds, lizards, things I had never seen before.” So, she took pictures. Like she did when she was little, Pennington documented the nature around her, filling her camera roll with mushrooms, trees, heron, and while she was doing it, she mentally added in sayings or phrases that struck her in the moment.
“I intended to do something with it, and then, of course, there were lots of other things to do, so I put it aside,” she said. Putting it “aside” happened a few more times before last September, when she mentioned the idea of pairing the poetry with photography to friend Jane Coombes, owner of Mango Tango Art Gallery, who encouraged her to move forward. Pennington pulled in graphic artist Gary Metz, who agreed to make the initial design, and then a few weeks later, inspiration struck again.
On a trip to New York, with few animals in sight, Pennington started looking over the photos she had compiled and writing the poetry to go along with them. In New York, she added a photo of a pigeon being fed a piece of bologna by a man in the park, which she sent to Metz. The design he returned – later named Pigeon Pose – was the first in the installation and it “kind of evolved from there,” Pennington said.
Coombes was just as excited when Pennington reintroduced the idea upon her return, and with that, Pennington set to work, completing 12 pieces that will be on display once the exhibit opens on Friday, December 10.
“I feel like it’s kind of an amusing editorial on climate change through poetry,” Pennington said. “I’ve been an activist my whole life, and then I realized that’s not what changes things. Art changes things, music changes things, whether it’s good, bad, whatever, it changes people’s hearts, and that’s what we have to change. So what we have to do is to change their hearts. We have to start caring about everything, including each other.”
Pennington added that she’s excited to feature her work alongside local artists Adrienne Miller and Jessica Rosenberg, who will be adding visual art and ceramics exhibits. The Grand Holiday Bazaar opens this Friday, December 10, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Mango Tango Art Gallery on Raphune Hill. For additional information, call (340) 777-3060 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.