By Hannah E. Jones

A new, digital art exhibit is nestled within downtown Atlanta this summer. “Extension of Nature” explores the intersection of modernity and sustainability through 10 works displayed on four digital billboards.

The exhibition, curated by Birney Robert, looks at what it means to be sustainable in modern times, particularly in digital and urban landscapes. As Robert points out, the premise — using a screen to project images of nature — is inherently contradictory.

Each billboard follows a theme, including plants and seeds, plastics and waste, imaginary environments and relationships. The artists consider the same topic through different lenses, choosing images of ancestors, plastic waste and blooming flowers. 

Chanell Angeli used photos from the Library of Congress for her piece, Soul Mother. (Photo courtesy of Arts & Entertainment Atlanta.)

“I love how all the pieces work with each other and talk to each other in downtown Atlanta,” Robert said on opening day. “Using the digital to uplift the natural is the main goal of this exhibit. Whether it be through beauty, decay, trash or imaginary environments, these 10 artists are working on how to send a message to the community at a glance about the current climate crisis.”

Now in its fourth year, Extension of Nature is presented by Arts & Entertainment (A&E) Atlanta in partnership with the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, Orange Barrel Media and BIG Outdoor. Managed by the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, A&E Atlanta uses art and outdoor programming to activate spaces in the heart of the city.

The 2023 local artists and their project sites include: 

Plants and Seeds: 140 Peachtree St NE
Iman Person, New Air
Peter Bahouth, VENT
Mark Leibert, Bloom

Plastics and Waste: 101 Marietta St NW
Pam Longobardi, Drifter’s Project Sites
Kevin Beasley, Bulk Amnesty

Imaginary Environments: 89 Centennial Olympic Park Dr NW
Chanell Angeli, Soul Mother
Daniel Phelps, Prana
Inspired Action Design, Photosynthetic Diodes 

Relationships: 235 Peachtree St NE

Supratim Pait, Bread & Butter, Close

Artist Pam Longobardi used several photos to create “Drifter’s Project Sites,” showing the plastic waste that she found and gathered in Hawaii, and her swimming with a plastic island in Greece. She also uses the found materials to create large installations.

Drifter’s Project Sites by Pam Longobardi. (Photo courtesy of Arts & Entertainment Atlanta.)

“There’s something about the collision between nature and culture that takes your breath away,” Longobardi told SaportaReport. “These photographs really, for me, [hit] home because the things that we use in our daily lives end up [as trash] in these remote and beautiful places.”

The digital exhibition also serves to feature more public art and activate our public spaces with messaging different from the typical lens of consumerism.

“People are inundated with commercial messages — you can’t look around and not see one,” artist Peter Bahouth said, describing the art as “a little flower [through the] crack in the pavement.”

The exhibit will be on display from now until July 31, rotating between commercial content. To learn more about the Extension of Nature and to check out its locations, click here.

Hannah Jones is a Georgia State University graduate, with a major in journalism and minor in public policy. She began studying journalism in high school and has since served as a reporter and editor for...

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