Art approaches the environment at A Gallery exhibit

— Astrid Tilton

As part of its spring show, A Gallery in Oak Bluffs exhibits three approaches to the environment. Astrid Tilton, who graduated from the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School this month, is showing “Realizing Waste,” a photo series of plastic bags discarded in outdoor settings. Recycling is the theme for Brigitte Cornand’s photos, “See You at the Dumptique,” and Paul Lazes looks at the “Artificial vs. Natural: Synthetic and Organic Matter” in his installation.

Photography has been part of Ms. Tilton studies at the Charter School since eighth grade. With no photography offerings in the curriculum this year, she said, “I decided to create my own class.” She became particularly interested in the “Bring Your Own Bag” bylaws now on the books in four Island towns and under consideration in others. This issue became her capstone project, and involved extensive meetings with storeowners, informational sessions with town selectmen, and work with members of the Vineyard Conservation Commission in addition to photography.

After learning how to use the school’s darkroom, Ms. Tilton moved on to other aspects of photography. When she traveled to Italy with her class, her digital camera broke, but she had brought 10 rolls of film, and used her analog Pentax camera to record the trip. Next came work with a 4×5 large-format camera, then cyanotype prints.

“Taking pictures is a way of noticing what’s going on around me,” Ms. Tilton said. “When we see all the trash around us, it’s a motivation to do something. Ultimately it’s just a bag, and we can change what we do.” In the fall, Ms. Tilton will attend Hampshire College in Amherst, where she plans to study environmental policy and photography.

Brigitte Cornand’s photo series of Islanders and visitors to the Dumptique consists of a matrix of 70 color portraits. This popular site for recycling clothes and household items is located at the West Tisbury landfill. Most of the individuals photographed hold up their finds while others simply smile at the camera. Ms. Cornand, a volunteer at the Dumptique, selected her A Gallery images from a larger series. “I noticed that all these people, coming for the picking or bringing in donations, were very stylish,” she said. “Little by little, I decided to take pictures of them.”

The photographer also makes documentary films on well-known artists like Louise Bourgeois. “See You at the Dumptique” has also been shown at the West Tisbury Public Library and the Galerie du Jour in Paris.

In “Artificial vs. Natural: Synthetic and Organic Matter,” Vineyard Haven artist and designer Paul Lazes displays a group of mannequins standing on a bed of moss and other organic material. It is the fourth in a series titled “A Walk in the Park.” He has called his installation “permanent vs. temporary, classic beauty vs. kitsch.”

“I think it’s best if we embrace structure and invite change,” he said. “I’m particularly intrigued by the transgender community, which inhabits both male and female worlds, and the mannequins are highly androgynous.” Mr. Lazes also owns Rock Pond Studio, an enterprise where he designs kitchens and larger architectural projects.

The work of these three artists is on display through Sunday, June 19.

Located at 8 Uncas Avenue, Oak Bluffs, A Gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:30 am to 5 pm. For more information, visit