Looking at John Sabraw’s Sludge Paintings

In our current world, unfortunately and frustratingly there are more oil and toxin spills than one can count. Although most of us choose to look at this as another adversity that tells of the horrible way we treat our planet, John Sabraw chose to take a more positive route. Sabraw is an eco-friendly art professor that teamed up with environmental engineer Dr. Guy Riefler to develop a method of filtering colorful iron pigments from contaminated water. Sabraw uses these pigments to create psychedelic looking art. Many local streams in Ohio are toxic and are already an orange color due to acid runoff from abandoned coal mines. This leaves the water supply of the state at risk as well as the people living there. Sabraw has plans to further his and his team’s research and eventually find a profitable way of cleaning contaminated water. This would create a whole new business of sustainably removing pollutants. I appreciate how Sabraw is making something beautiful out of something so horrible. He shares a new style of art without undermining the severity of the issue at hand. This kind of issue is far too common nowadays, as can be seen in the amount of stories of toxin spills presented in Bigelow and Swinehart’s book as well as Bilott’s “Exposure”. Water contamination affects the entire lifestyles of both animals and people. Margaret Curole – a cajun shrimper from Louisiana that suffered from the collapse of the local shrimping industry sums it up by stating, “I don’t trust our government. I don’t trust anybody in power”.

You can view John Sabraw’s work here: https://www.johnsabraw.com/studio

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