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Artist discusses human impacts on the natural environment at Snow convocation

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EPHRAIM—A former Salt Lake Tribune art critic explained his unusual art and expressed his views on how human beings are impacting the natural environment during a Snow College convocation last Thursday Sept. 15.

Sculptor Frank McEntire lecturing at the Snow College convocation.

Works by Frank McEntire, who also served as executive director of the Utah Arts Council, are currently on display at the Snow art gallery in the Humanities Building. McEntire was honored at an opening reception on Friday, Sept. 16.

Born in 1946 in Wichita Falls, Texas, McEntire received his associate’s degree at Lon Morris College, a private junior college in Jacksonville, Texas, and his bachelor’s degree in theater and cinematic arts from Brigham Young University. He also earned a master’s degree in community education administration from BYU.

He was art critic for The Salt Lake Tribune and Salt Lake Magazine from 1992 to 1998.

McEntire said his first exposure to environmental issues came as a young man when he read Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, “Silent Spring.”

Carson’s book documented how the indiscriminate agricultural spraying of the insecticide DDT was decimating bird populations. Many species, including California brown pelicans, peregrine falcons and bald eagles, were driven almost to extension in the lower 48 states.

He said Carson’s book led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and passage of the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and other environmental protection measures. The book also inspired his own lifelong environmental activism.

McEntire believes human interaction with the environment is the major contributor to climate change. He cited the mega-drought in the West, and flooding in Pakistan and India, as recent examples of climate changes. He said that he believes we have until 2050 to turn things around.

“There are no simple solutions,” he said. “My work seeks to provide a series of progressively difficult questions.”

McEntire practices what he calls “assemblage art.” Much of his media comes from flea markets, garages and estate sales. His “Silent Spring” assemblage consists of a wasp’s nest still attached to the branch on which it was created sitting atop three roughly-hewn square quartzite stones. It is a stark piece that evokes no sense of comfort.

Another piece, titled “Nature Fights Back,” consists of a large rock and a rusty chain sitting on an antique wooden, metal-wheeled, dock cart. At the bottom of the rock is a small hole into which McEntire has placed a small round rock painted to look like the world.

McEntire says, “…We inherit these (environmental) challenges at our global doorstep from ages past. As we recognize and better understand them, I trust we will find the political will, develop innovative technologies, and maintain the spiritual resolve and courage to thwart pessimism and inspire problem-solving action. Our response will determine if humanity remains in the expansive scope of geological time.”

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