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Lia Rothstein named 2023 Climate Change Artist in Residence

“We received 83 applications from artists around the world,” BMAC Director of Exhibitions Sarah Freeman said. “The work Lia Rothstein is doing with bioplastics struck us as incredibly creative, interesting, and hopeful. We are delighted that she will be our 2023 BMAC Climate Change Artist in Residence.”

Current Work

Rothstein’s current work focuses on issues surrounding fragility and transience. In 2012, she held an artist residency at the Baer Art Center in Hofsos, Iceland. She traveled around the country and observed firsthand its diminishing glaciers, heightening her awareness of the effects of climate change on our fragile environment. The search for biodegradable materials with sculptural potential recently led her to experiment with bioplastics. Unlike traditional plastics, bioplastics are obtained from renewable resources, and many are biodegradable.

Lia Rothstein 22Pingo 122 2022 agar seaweed bioplastic pigment cheesecloth 11 x 8 x 3 inches
Lia Rothstein, “Pingo 1” (2022), agar (seaweed) bioplastic, pigment, cheesecloth, 11 x 8 x 3 inches

“I have been experimenting with using agar (seaweed), gelatin, cassava, tapioca, and other materials to create sculptural works and am very excited by the expressive possibilities these materials have for three-dimensional work,” Rothstein said.

Lia Rothstein Blue Biomass 2021 monotype on Rives BFK using bioplastic materials
Lia Rothstein, “Blue Biomass” (2021), monotype on Rives BFK using bioplastic materials, 8 x 8 inches

“As artists, I think we have a responsibility to be thoughtful about the materials we use in our work, to creatively explore materials that can have less impact on our environment, and to be responsible consumers of whatever art materials we use to express our ideas. During my residency, I will continue to grow, learn, and stretch in my search for materials to express my ideas using sustainable and biodegradable materials that, rather than contributing to the advancement of climate change, seek to help be part of a movement to slow and reduce the impacts of unnecessary waste and pollution in our fragile ecosystems.”

Past Work

Rothstein has been a professional photographer and artist for over 40 years. She has taught digital photography and imaging and a variety of art processes in colleges and art centers throughout New England and has worked as a photographic specialist for Dartmouth College. She has also been a regular teacher and presenter at the annual International Encaustic Conference held in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums across the U.S. and is in numerous private and public collections, including the Polaroid Permanent International Exhibition Photography Collection and the collections of John Hancock and the Radisson Group. Her encaustic and cold wax paintings are featured in the book “Cold Wax Medium: Techniques, Concepts and Conversations” by Rebecca Crowell and Jerry McLaughlin. She has an M.F.A. and a B.A. from Boston University.

BMAC Climate Change Residency

“I am very honored to be selected for the BMAC Climate Change Residency, and I look forward to working on increasing public awareness about traditional plastic materials and their impact on our changing climate,” Rothstein said. “Receiving this residency will allow me to gain more knowledge about bioplastic materials, to explore their use in both two- and three-dimensional artwork, and to share that information with other artists and with the general public as well.”

BMAC awards one Climate Change Artist Residency per year. The residency comes with a $6,000 stipend. The nature of the residency is flexible and is tailored to serve the needs of the selected artist.

“Lia Rothstein is experimenting with bioplastics in fascinating ways,” BMAC Director Danny Lichtenfeld said. “As a lifelong teacher, Lia is interested in using her BMAC residency to offer workshops, give talks, work with schools and students, and connect with other artists and researchers who are engaging with climate change. We look forward to facilitating all that and more.”

About Brattleboro Museum & Art Center

Founded in 1972, the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center presents rotating exhibits of contemporary art, complemented by lectures, artist talks, film screenings, and other public programs. BMAC is open Wednesday-Sunday, 10-4. Admission is on a “pay-as-you-wish” basis. Located in historic Union Station in downtown Brattleboro, at the intersection of Main Street and Routes 119 and 142, the museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 802-257-0124 or visit brattleboromuseum.org.

BMAC is supported in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Brattleboro Savings & Loan, C&S Wholesale Grocers, the Four Columns Inn, Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, and Whetstone Beer Co.