Did you know that 2011 was the International Year of Chemistry? To launch the year-long celebratory event, four artists created four incredible art installations in four French cities—Paris, Lille, Lyon, and Marseille. Each installation in the project known as L'art et la Matiére, translated as Art in Matter, represented one of four topics relating environmental issues and how we impact the Earth through their plastic-constructed sculptural installations.

In Paris, Marie-Hélène Richard constructed Rosae Plasticae, a dome adorned with 12,000 "roses" which are actually handcrafted out of plastic bags. Her piece tackles the subject of "Recycling" by featuring the beauty that can be formed from repurposing an item, rather than discarding it. She also cleverly chose to mimic an organic material with the inanimate object, further drawing a link to nature. Similarly, in Lille, Vincent Leroy installed a field of "weeds" known as Champ Mécanique for his "Green Chemistry" theme.

Once again, Richard transformed an open space into an inviting environment for passersby to engage in, this time in Lyon with fellow artist Stéphan Bohu. The piece titled Sph'air exhibits 120 big white balloons all across the Place des Terreaux to represent molecules of air. Each person that interacts with the giant spheres is metaphorically influencing "Air Quality" putting into perspective the effects we have on the Earth's own atmosphere.

Finally, in Marseilles, Shigeko Hirakawa's Hélioflore showcases a large mechanical flower whose petals are embedded with solar panels. It is a clear representation of "New Forms of Energy" like solar power. The "flower" soaks in the power of the sun during the day and illuminates the large structure at night, exemplifying the strength in environmentally friendly alternative energy sources.

Top Photo: Rosae Plasticae by Marie-Hélène Richard

Champ Mécanique by Vincent Leroy

Sph'air by Marie-Hélène Richard and Stéphan Bohu

Hélioflore by Shigeko Hirakawa

L'art et la Matiére website
Images via [Marie-Hélène Richard's blog, EuBEA, Alain Durand]

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