Arts & Theater

This e-waste art gallery bridges the gap between industry and ecology

Angela Gonzalez’s “Random Access Memories,” which depicts windmills as a source of renewable energy, is available for viewing at SMUD’s art gallery until Jan. 16, 2019.
Angela Gonzalez’s “Random Access Memories,” which depicts windmills as a source of renewable energy, is available for viewing at SMUD’s art gallery until Jan. 16, 2019.

While normally SMUD might use electrical wiring and computer components to power your home, this winter it is hosting an art exhibition that uses those same parts to make connections between technology and the environment.

Angela Gonzalez’s multimedia art gallery, “Waste Not, Want Not,” combines ethereal painting with scavenged scraps of e-waste, creating a juxtaposition that she said is meant to get onlookers talking about sustainability.

Although each of her pieces tackles different themes — some, she says, deal with clean energy and pollution, others focus on deforestation and extinction — they all use recycled materials to convey contemporary environmental concerns.

Almost all of the gallery’s pieces are circular, which is not only representative of the earth, she said, their infinite curves also provide an eye-catching contrast to the sharp edges of electronics.

Despite dealing with ecological calamity, many of the pieces in the gallery are positive, depicting the possibility of harmony between industry and nature. Gonzalez said she doesn’t see the point in fatalistically moping about the problems looming over society without taking action.

Gonzalez’s choice to use recycled materials was multifaceted, she said. By purchasing the e-waste from a recycling center in Marin County — pieces that include silicon chips, discs, copper coils, soldering wire, computer fans, mice and more — she is reusing things that may have ended up as landfill and she also hopes her art can inspire others to take conservation measures in their own lives.

“You just open their eyes and if you have something good to say, you say it. If you have a really nice way to show the path, you show the path,” Gonzalez said. “With me just complaining I’m not going to get anything done.”

Gonzalez, who worked as a fashion designer in her native Colombia, got into visual art after she moved to the U.S. with her husband years ago, she said.

At first, Gonzalez tried her hand at classical painting in the style of the old masters, but she gradually began to experiment with acrylics, stained glass, and eventually multimedia art.

After moving to the Bay Area in 2010 before coming to Sacramento, Gonzalez said it was impossible to not associate the technology that inundates the region with her longstanding love of environmentalism. She originally wanted to undertake a career in science, she said.

One of the most popular pieces in the gallery, “Holy Cow,” has won several awards — in part, Gonzalez said, because it comes across as whimsical and fun.

However, she said, the large green cow idling in a floppy disc field is also meant to bring awareness to the greenhouse gas emissions bovines produce and the inordinate land use their husbandry necessitates.

All the pieces displayed in the SMUD gallery, including “Holy Cow,” are for sale. For more information, visit the artist’s website.

If you go

Where: SMUD at 6301 S Street, Sacramento

When: Nov. 16 to Jan. 16, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Cost: Admission is free.

The exhibit is sponsored by the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission.

This article was updated at 12:05 p.m. on Dec. 19 to clarify that Gonzalez lives in Sacramento.