Brandi Merolla of Narrowsburg, NY, a tiny hamlet on the shores of the Delaware River, has on display “What the Frack?!,” also known as Frack Art, a collection of 14 photographs that represent the danger of hydraulic fracturing, the controversial natural gas extraction method. The displays photographed are part of Merolla’s “Scenes from the Attic,” constructed from various collectibles and knick-knacks she has accumulated throughout her life.
“I began making Frack Art in 2010, and since then I’ve created approximately 50 illustrations about the dangers of fracking,” said Merolla. “Usually I will read an alarming article about an aspect of fracking and then feel moved to summarize that danger in a photo. The images come effortlessly because I have a passionate opposition to the entire production process.”
Merolla joined the fight against fracking five years ago when big business came to town. Narrowsburg, which lies just east of the New York-Pennsylvania border, sits on top of a formation of Marcellus shale, which is wrought with natural gas. The only way to access the gas is to extract it through hydraulic fracturing.
“Our rural, eco-tourist-based community in Upstate New York quickly learned about the new drilling process and the threats it posed to our health, air, water, farmed foods, animals, and planet,” said Merolla.
This is not Merolla’s first foray into environmental activism: in 2010 she partook in group art display “FRACKING: Art &Activism to Stop the Drill” at Exit Art in New York City. She credits the Empire State’s well-informed grassroots movement for bringing about positive change, including Narrowsburg’s recent turn away from fracking.
“I am an artist as well as an activist,” said Merolla. “It just seemed fitting to illustrate environmental issues [in the same way as “Scenes from the Attic”] since that is where my heart is.”
A friend of Merolla’s informed her of ArtPrize last fall, and the artist was attracted to the competition because of its robust attendance. She hopes displaying her photo collection in Grand Rapids will alert Michiganders to the dangers fracking poses.
“Michigan is a beautiful state and has so much water to protect,” said Merolla. “ArtPrize has been a great opportunity to reveal a more realistic view of fracking to a mainstream audience who (sic) has lots to lose.”
Once ArtPrize ends on October 6, Merolla will continue making Frack Art and touring the country to display it and give visualization to the anti-fracking movement.
“My work continues because unfortunately, there is no shortage of dangers related to the production of natural gas.”