Compost Compositions

Silver-blue hues shine inside muscle shells in a compost pile dotted with the reds, greens, whites and browns of vegetable and fruit remnants. This image by photographer and climate activist Evelyn R. Swett is part of an exhibit, “Compost Compositions,” opening Friday at 5 p.m. at the AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon.

LEBANON -- A compost heap is a good metaphor for life; it needs to be turned over once in a while and continually mixed with new material to thrive, says photographic artist and climate activist Evelyn R. Swett.

Her exhibition “Compost Compositions” is an exploration of the foods people eat -- and throw away. It opens Friday at the AVA Gallery and Art Center, 11 Bank St., and runs through Nov. 16.

The “pomegranates in winter, the apple peels in fall and the egg shells year-round became objects of fascination,” she says of her art. “No longer mere kitchen scraps, they were celebrations of light, texture and the energy embodied in each piece of waste.”

Her images are rife with color, texture and shape, and gleaned from the compost heap she shares with her extended family in Hanover. She uses a combination of words and images in hopes of inspiring conversations about fostering a healthy, democratic and diverse society.

Swett has expanded the scope of her work by documenting compost sites in New York City, Hartford, Conn., and throughout the Upper Valley. She has also been collecting coffee grinds and other compost from Umpleby’s Cafe & Bakery in Hanover for almost two years.

“I think compost is like people and ideas, needing to be turned over once in a while, mixed up and mingled with others. There is power in the transformation of waste. It gets me every time,” said Swett.

An opening reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Elizabeth Rowland Mayor Gallery at AVA.  Swett has invited Marc Morgan, solid waste manager for Lebanon, to join her during a Front Porch Conversation titled “Waste in Our Material World” at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, at the AVA, and Swett will host an artist’s talk there at 5 p.m. on Nov. 2.

For more information, call 448-3117 or visit