Don’t sit on artist Kate Helms’ environmentally minded furniture. Her antique furnishings — an ornate chair, a walnut-colored bed — are covered in sea sponges and coral forms (fake and real) at the Projects Contemporary Art Space warehouse in Fort Lauderdale’s FAT Village.
Helms, by day a stormwater administrator on Florida’s Gulf Coast, harvested the sponges from Indian Rocks Beach near Clearwater, where she lives. The installations are on display in the Florida-themed group exhibit “Hot and Sticky: The Sultry State,” in which 13 artists draw inspiration from their home state’s raw beauty, ocean life and habitats. The show is on view through June 30.
Helms says combining nautical elements with old furniture is a “call to action” against sea-level rise and carbon-dioxide emissions. She says her furniture is inspired by the Victorian era (although they aren’t that old), the period that saw the Industrial Revolution.
“It’s when humans first contributed to climate change,” says Helms, 34, a former Florida Department of Environmental Protection specialist who’s also showing a chandelier and a map wall, both encrusted with barnacles. “I want people to reduce their carbon footprint. The simple things that have been preached to you over the years, most of us still aren’t doing.”
Only the coral formations on Helms’ antique bed, titled “Colony III,” were made from clay. To create the barnacle-covered chandelier and map wall, she dipped both objects from a dock into brackish water and left them there for several weeks.
“Hot and Sticky,” assembled by Broward curator Lisa Rockford, also features works by Kevin Arrow, Jenna Efrein, Gustavo Oviedo, Nadia Utto, Nick Gilmore, Katerina Friderici and others. A second reception for the show will take place Saturday, May 26, during the FAT Village Art Walk.
“Hot and Sticky: The Sultry State”
When: Through June 30 (second reception: 6-10 p.m. May 26)
Where: The Projects Contemporary Art Space, 523 NW First Ave., Fort Lauderdale