Chicago Artist Month

October is Chicago Artist Month and there are many venue offerings. My Crude Awakening photographs will be exhibited in 3 locations. The first is for the Art Loop Open, October 15-29, Chicago’s new art competition— which will transform ten venues throughout Chicago’s Loop into interactive public art exhibits. My piece, Life Guards, will be exhibited at Block 37. On Friday, October 15 from 5 to 8 p.m. The public is encouraged to visit each venue and begin voting for their favorite artwork, while enjoying specialty "Artini" cocktails and other offerings.

Life Guards 40" x 40".

The next venue is at the Chicago Center for Green Technology. They partnered up with the Global Alliance of Artists and put a show together called "What We Worry About." I will have Life Guards, Marissa, and Keith,Laura and Olivia in this show. The opening reception is this Thursday from 5:30 - 7:30 at 445 N. Sacramento.


Keith, Laura and Olivia

And finally, I will be showing "Life Guards" in the 2nd Annual Artists for a Greener Evanston Showcase October 15 and 16th at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center.

Have a great month!


This post appeared on ELLE Magazine's Blog last week. It was so nice to have someone actually "get" what I was trying to do. Thank you ELLE Magazine writer Kate Siegel!

AUGUST 03, 2010
Jane Fulton Alt's 'Crude Awakening'

Last month, Jane Fulton Alt posted her latest photographic series, Crude Awakening. The images, clearly meant to draw attention to the Gulf oil spill, are impossible to ignore.

After seeing the massive fire consume the Deepwater Horizon oil-rig, she, like everyone else, was inspired to help, but her contribution took a different path.

This series, unlike the majority of the commentary on the spill, doesn’t unequivocally blame BP. The provocative images are certainly critical of the company, but the oil coating the bodies of Fulton Alt’s subjects seems to imply something more. Could the artist be suggesting that, on some level, we're all responsible for the spill? Do we all have ‘oil on our hands’? If we weren't so dependent on the oil, would this have happened in the first place?

Without contributing millions of dollars, or even making her way down to the Gulf, she's found a way to reach everyone, and make any sane person question their environmental stance. As BP starts their Static Kill operation, a new CEO takes over the company, and more studies reveal the extent of the spill's damage, the more reminders of its consequences the better— especially if those reminders are stellar photographs.


A few other links on the internet the past few weeks were
The Jerusalem Post
HDhottdog Magazine, pgs 4-5
Tree Hugger Slide Show
Esquire in Russia, September Issue

Interview for El Nuevo Dia

The following is an interview by Ana Toro Ortiz which was published today in the Puerto Rican newspaper, El Nuevo Dia. It might answer some questions about Crude Awakening that have been circulating on the internet.

(ATO) Where were you when you hear about the oil spill for the first time?
(JFA) I was meeting my new grandson in the hospital for the first time. He was born April 19th, one day before the spill. I was not reading newspapers at the time. I have a vague recollection of something terrible happening in the greater world but was totally focused on the immediate joys of a new little person coming into the world.

(ATO) When and why do you decide to make this project?
(JFA) I was deeply disturbed by the images of the oil drenched pelicans that were first distributed during the early days of summer in Chicago, where I live. I remember walking along the shores of Lake Michigan watching young mothers with their children heading down to the crystal clear waters for a swim and could not help but think about what was happening on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. I have spent a lot of time in Louisiana, where I am known most recently for my photographic exploration of New Orleans post Katrina. I felt deeply connected to the area and was in touch with many of the photographers trying to get access to the oil spill. Having "covered" one disaster was enough for me...I never considered traveling down there to photograph the spill. However, I decided I might be able to help from afar, by creating a conceptual body of work that would discuss the oil spill.

(ATO) Was the work created for an exhibition or it was an internet based idea of diffusion?
(JFA) When I created the work, I was not thinking at all about how it would be shown or exhibited. It was only after the shooting that I decided I wanted it to reach as many people as possible. Once I sent it out to my email list, it started to spread. I also decided to create a video on You Tube as another venue to make the work more accessible. The power of the internet is really staggering. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be seen so widely.

(ATO) What was the creative process?
(JFA) I had pre-visualized the entire project before I took my first picture. I knew that I wanted the work to speak not only about what was happening in the Gulf of Mexico but also have it relate to the issue of energy consumption and exploitation of the earth's resources worldwide. I tried to find families of various nationalities to support that premise, although someone mentioned that once a person is covered in the non-toxic substance, it was difficult to tell the nationality. That was one of the factors considered in choosing to use their names as titles, hoping the viewer would realize the titles might reference different nationalities.

(ATO) Who are the people in the pictures and how do you selected them?
(JFA) Of all the photographs, only 5 were taken of people who were neighbors or friends of friends. The rest of the subjects were complete strangers who saw me working on the beach as asked if they could participate in the project. People everywhere are acutely aware of and deeply concerned about our collective impact on the environment.

(ATO Was it really oil? Where is the setting?
(JFA) I initially wanted to use real oil but did not think it would be safe. I tried to simulate oil in photoshop which did not work. I thought the project was dead. Then I went to a BP protest in Chicago and casually asked another protester if she would consider modeling with real oil. She said yes which totally shocked me. We then brainstormed about other non toxic substances we might utilize.

All of the photographs are taken on the shores of Lake Michigan which contain 20% of all the world's fresh water supply, a few blocks from where I live.

(ATO) How many days did you worked on the project?
(JFA) I started brainstorming about the project in early June. On June 11th the project became a realization when this stranger said yes to being a subject. Two days later I was photographing my neighbors. The shooting took place between June 13th and June 30th.

(ATO) What was the hardest part of the process?
(JFA) The hardest part of the whole process is letting go of the work. There has been some misinformation on the internet about where the images were taken and the intent of the project. It would have been wonderful if the artist statement had been embedded in the images files and were mandatory reading for viewing the photographs.

I have always said that when you make art and decide to "put it out there, " you need be ok about letting it go, because everyone has a different take on how they will experience the work. I really like what was written on the blog, " doesn’t the value of art derive precisely from the fact that it is not the real thing?”

(ATO) In terms of making people around the word conscious about the environment, what has been the biggest obstacle?
(JFA) That is a big question. I don't really think I am qualified to answer. My hopes are that this work might be a spring board for more discussion.

(ATO) Why the Internet?
(JFA) I had an exhibition last year at the Chicago Cultural Center of my Katrina photographs, After the Storm. What pleased me the most was that people who would not normally go to an art gallery had access to the work. It made me realize the power of public art spaces. I am really pleased that the work has been seen by so many people worldwide. It is really staggering.

(ATO) I see in your work that you're interested in an anthropological view at the different phenomenons... How do you describe your style?
(JFA) I am a clinical social worker by training and have been in practice for over 35 years. I have traveled extensively and am most interested in our shared humanity. There is a "collective unconscious" that exists, no matter where we live. I am interested in how we all come into this world, how we leave this world, and everything in between (which is, if we are lucky, love). My work is about life cycles and trying to understand the meaning of life more fully. How that gets translated into "style," I am not sure.

(ATO) When did you start to work in photography?
(JFA) When my youngest child began grammar school and some time freed up, I began taking art classes and decided to try photography as I had just purchased a new camera in preparation for a trip. At the start of the class I did not really understand the nuances or poetic potential of photography. I had an exceptional teacher, Richard Olderman, who taught me to see with my heart. I learned over time that the camera was just another tool for expressing oneself.

(ATO) Do you have faith in art as a way of making a change?
(JFA) Image and art making , if done well, can have a tremendous impact on social change.

(ATO) If theres anything you would like to add or share with our readers is more than welcome.
(JFA) I always assumed that we would leave this world in better condition than how it was passed on to us. Now I am not so sure it is possible. The challenges are great but for the sake of the future of our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren I have hopes that we can learn from our mistakes and be better stewards of mother earth.

©2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Jean and Jordan

a comment worth repeating...

The following was a comment left on by Devin which I thought was worth repeating...

"Before this disaster and the war, there are a lot of things that I hadn't really considered or thoroughly understood.. One of the most profound realizations was that the world as we know it was entirely built on oil. All plastics and rubber, all the wiring, all the machines that produce the trinkets, the packaging for the trinket, the gas to ship the trinket, the oil to produce the truck that shipped the trinket, the tires on the truck, everything. That and the fact, that oil is not an infinite resource. Not only is it not infinite, some suggest we may be past "peak oil" (by a few years actually) and are now on the down slope towards depletion. Worse is that the possibility of need exceeding the ability to supply is very real as China and India become more industrialized and consumption continues to grow."

©2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Richele

Contemplating the Bottom Line

© 2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ No Life Guard on Duty

It has been a wild ride with the proliferation of Crude Awakening across the internet. I am thrilled with the exposure the photographs are getting as the state of affairs with our environment is grave... hopefully this work will facilitate more discussion.

I was interviewed briefly yesterday morning by a talk radio show in Dublin, Ireland. I hung up feeling a bit disparing as the host inferred that our collective greed had gotten us into this disaster as he referred to BP's "bottom line" and consumers seeking low cost products. I don't really know how to reconcile this as it seem that greed has been a trait of human nature thru out time.

I started to think about Buddhist teachings and came across an interesting quote by the Dalai Lama. "Because self and others can only be understood in terms of relationship, we see that self-interest and others' interest are closely interrelated and there is no self-interest completely unrelated to others' interests. Due to the fundamental interconnectedness which lies at the heart of reality, your interest is also my interest: in a deep sense, "my" interest and "your" interest basically converge."

My friend, Paul added...
"How, in the Buddha's terms, a thought becomes a word, which becomes an action, which becomes a disposition. So, too, of our motivations, so that this oil spill is inextricably tied up with our own desires and needs, and we cannot honestly condemn the spill unless we are willing to acknowledge that it is not separate from ourselves: not just the consequences (which is why your pics are being picked up), but not separate from our own appetites."

BP and where I live

Just got an email this morning from Ben Prisk who lives in Ocean Springs, MS. The following is a post from his blog.

"I ran across the image below tonight at Boingboing. It was done by photographer Jane Fulton (look at the rest of her work please).

Currently, our barrier islands are doing a fair job of keeping the oil at bay. Growing up, I used to hate those islands, because they kept our water from being a brilliant green (as it was when you sailed to those islands). Now those islands are covered in the oil that all the other states are encountering.

I've held a bag of that has the weight and consistency of molten liver. I've talked to the men trying to skim it. When the oil splashes onto the boats, it takes an acidic cleaner and a lot of 'elbow grease' to remove it (hours).

I spoke to a friend of mine who owns a gorgeous wooden boat that BP tried to hire....he looked at the fine print in the contract and it said that 'all wooden boats would have to be destroyed after the event'. He declined, as his 52 ft boat was built in 1939 by a 19th century local boat builder wiped out by Katrina.

Thanks barrier islands.

If I were a wealthy man, I would license her images from her, have them printed in bus-stop size format and have them placed along the coast.... no logos ... no words ... only a tiny photo credit. Her work says it all."

© 2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Keith, Laura and Olivia

Calling for the Pelicans

© 2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Itay

"As I was watching the world cup on TV, a commercial from BP came on with a phone number to make a claim for anyone that has been harmed by the effects of the recent oil spill. The commercial went on and on about how BP is trying to make things right by replacing the lost livelihoods of fishermen and others living on the Gulf Coast, but I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if I called in and made a a pelican. I've come to realize how people are so concerned with the safety of the oil rig workers or how the fishing industry in the Gulf is in ruins, but what about the pelicans? What about the environmental repercussions that the oil spill has caused? I think that when man makes mistakes that cause himself problems, that is own business, but when our thirst for oil disturbs the processes of nature, we are responsible for the damage. The horrifying images of pelicans struggling to get out of the water, drenched in oil, are constant reminders of the severity of the environmental crisis in the Gulf Coast. I'm calling BP to make a claim for the pelicans, because they've been affected by the spill as much as anyone, although they don't want a check in the mail. All they want is to have the water where they feed and live to be free of fossil fuels so they can go about their business. They can't do it themselves, and it is up to us to make a difference throughout this environmental catastrophe. I'm calling for the pelicans."

Itay ~ age 16

US Could Learn Plenty from European Energy Policy

updates on Crude Awakening

One of the benefits of having attending the BP protest in Chicago a few weeks ago was meeting Thomas Frank and his family.
Thomas is an artist and has been living under the shadow of the BP plant in East Chicago, Indiana for some time. He has a blog, with incredible information on it. When I contacted him earlier in the week he was "in Detroit at the U.S Social Forum working on a response to the TAR SANDS, another horrible no good disaster BP is deeply involved in." Please check his blog out.

© 2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Marissa, Maya and Noa

I also received a link from a friend, Lapham's Quarterly essay on Henry David Thoreua's Walden Pond:Living Deliberately which has much relevance to our world today.

from PBS NEWSHOUR Rundown

I am currently working on getting a Crude Awakening You Tube video posted. Stay tuned. Again, all my work up to date can be seen HERE.

More on Crude Awakening and the Environment

In response to a comment in the last blog, I thought I would post more about the Crude Awakening project.

The work is conceptual in nature as I live on the shores of Lake Michigan and the images were all taken here. Its conception took form the day before the much anticipated beaches opened for the 2010 swimming season. It was impossible to ignore what was happening to the shore lines in the Gulf of Mexico as our beaches opened to pristine conditions.

I initially thought no one would voluntarily want oil poured on them so tried to simulate it in photoshop. It was a disaster and I figured my project was dead.

Then I went to a BP protest in Chicago on June 11th and asked someone there if they would consider modeling with oil. I was shocked when the answer was yes. We quickly came up with other substances that might substitute for the oil. As I asked around, many people said they would be happy to help out. When on location and photographing, many people asked to be included in the project. The concern for our environment and saftey is widely shared.

The seeds if the project were born June 4th and the shooting began June 13th. It has been a whirlwind.

© 2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ George

I just received a letter from a writer friend who is in Europe for the year, John Bell.
He writes:

As we travel around Europe, mostly by train, we see hundreds of windmills. Denmark has installed them in the sea. The Netherlands and other coastal countries) are developing energy sources from waves and tides. Germany has developed a major industry in solar cells for home and business. I'm a bit more ambivalent about so much nuclear power, but here it doesn't seem to be built by whoever submitted the lowest bid. Berlin has few traffic problems because so many people bike and take public transportation. Besides, it seems that every other car is a SmartCar. In Amsterdam almost everyone bikes, and the tram system is wonderful. Madrid has the cleanest and most efficient Metro I've seen, and it only cost riders 1 Euro per trip.

I guess what I'm sharing is that Europe seems to have awakened far ahead of us.

Start writing your congressmen!
again, the project (up to the moment) can be seen HERE.

update on Crude Awakening

Here are some new images from my Crude Awakening portfolio. Thanks to all who so generously offered to be part of this project.

© 2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Faris, Afrah, Maryam, Akir and Ayaaz

© 2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Slanek, Alina Oscar and Oliver

© 2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Richele,Bernard,and Julia

© 2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Jean and Jordan

© 2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Life Boat

The full set can be viewed on my website HERE. More images will be added.

Crude Awakening

Living on the shores of Lake Michigan, I am acutely aware of the disastrous toll the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has taken on all forms of life, especially as our beaches opened to the 2010 swimming season. This environmental, social and economic catastrophe highlights a much larger problem that has inflicted untold suffering as we exploit the earth’s resources worldwide.

We are all responsible for leading lives that create demand for unsustainable energy.
We are also all responsible for the solution and we must work together to protect the balance of life.

© 2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Andrea, George and Taylor

©2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Three Friends

©2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Ben

© 2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Keith, Laura and Olivia

©2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Life Guards

This is what I have been working on this past week...

I would like to photograph families of all different nationalities. If you know of such families that would be interested, please contact me asap. I will be posting new work as it gets created.

©2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ No Life Guard on Duty

The up to date set of images can be viewed on my website HERE.