Benish, an American born artist who has settled in the Czech Republic, similarly dramatizes the effects of chemical and plastic pollution on marine and sweet water life. She paints on photographs of plastic toys of sea animals, ornamenting them with bright patterns of unnatural colors that recall the toxic chemicals and plastics that litter the world’s beaches and waters. Here her subject is the crab, a creature with a long mythological pedigree that has historically been associated with regeneration and rebirth. In the contemporary world, however, regeneration appears as a wishful fantasy, as the freshwater crab’s survival as a species is threatened by chemical pollution. There is a further irony in Benish’s use of plastic toys, because, of course, these same objects that serve to familiarize children with the natural world are also potentially toxic. Eleanor Heartney regularly contributes to Art in America, and recently published Art and Today

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