Qualia Contemporary Art is pleased to present Hydrophilic, a solo exhibition by renown eco artist John Sabraw. Sabraw’s art has garnered awe and awareness for addressing ever-more-pressing environmental concerns through innovative collaborations with scientists working on sustainable solutions. In this new exhibition, Sabraw explores these partnerships through painting, sculpture and installation aiming to spur catalytic change by bringing the distinct spheres of art, science, and entrepreneurship together. Hydrophilic will be open to the public from October 7 to December 3, 2021, with an opening celebration at the gallery with the artist hosted on October 9th from 4-7pm*.

The exhibition title reflects an affinity for water and pays homage to the focus of collaborations on efforts to restore waterways and habitats from Appalachia to the Bay Area. The pieces in the show emphasize local concerns, including close collaborations with organizations in the area. For example, Sabraw worked with Menlo Park’s Novoloop to incorporate their ground breaking recycled plastic into his painting of the San Francisco Bay, representing the complex and intimate relationship between the area’s waterways and human waste streams. In another painting Sabraw ground up samples of lab-grown Monterey Pine plant material produced by Ashley Beckwith at MIT and Draper Labs and mixed them into his paints, drawing attention to Beckwith’s innovative process which could allow paper to be produced without contributing to deforestation and the loss of Monterey Pine habitats so critical to Monarch Butterfly populations.

Works in the show are inspired by satellite imagery, dynamic flows of waterways, and the poetic beauty of complex ecosystems. Sabraw paints with vivid colors and a variety of textures as the works negotiate a flow state from abstraction to representation. Materiality is key as Sabraw incorporates sustainably sourced pigments created in collaboration with his Pollution to Paint team and Gamblin Artist Colors. To make these pigments, Sabraw works with a team of engineers and environmentalists to remediate streams polluted from acid mine drainage from coal mining; iron oxide pollutant is separated from the clean water and transformed into safe and sustainable artist’s pigment. Coinciding with the show, Gamblin will be releasing a new set of these paints available for purchase. A portion of funds from sales will help pay for the cost of further clean up of this pollution.

Sabraw began incorporating sustainability into his art practice at the turn of the 21st century, as a reaction to other forms of political protest that were proving inefficient. He realized that the sharing of resources was a root cause of all grievances, wars, racism, and other social ills, and began making artwork addressing these issues. As the climate crisis continues to escalate, Sabraw’s work offers an inspiring combination of action, activism, and art that reminds us that there are many ways to make a difference.

*For entry into the exhibition and reception, Qualia Contemporary Art is requiring full vaccination and masks at this time.

About John Sabraw

Artist John Sabraw was born in Lakenheath, England. An activist and environmentalist, Sabraw’s paintings, drawings and collaborative installations are produced in an eco conscious manner, and he continually works toward a fully sustainable practice. He collaborates with scientists on many projects, and one of his current collaborations involves creating paint and paintings from iron oxide extracted in the process of remediating polluted streams.


Sabraw’s art is in numerous collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Honolulu, the Elmhurst Museum in Illinois, Emprise Bank, and Accenture Corp.

Sabraw is a Professor of Art at Ohio University where he is Chair of the Painting + Drawing program, and Board Advisor at Scribble Art Workshop in New York. He has most recently been featured in TED, Smithsonian, New Scientist, Time, and Great Big Story.


Qualia Contemporary Art

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