Read the full article by Emily Burnham (Bangor Daily News)

“Not all that long ago, artist and University of Maine professor Susan Smith hadn’t heard the acronym that most Mainers are now all too familiar with: PFAS, also known as ‘forever chemicals,‘ the compounds that have contaminated soil and water across the country, and which have only garnered widespread public attention in recent years.

PFAS, used for decades in manufacturing, have been found in places ranging from farms to former military sites to elementary schools, and are linked to a raft of health problems, including cancer and pregnancy complications.

Always an environmentally minded artist and person, Smith looked at the tomatoes she grows each year in the garden at her home in Dover-Foxcroft, and wondered: could PFAS have contaminated them?

‘I’ve spent the past seven years making my artistic practice as sustainable and low- or no-impact on the environment as possible,’ said Smith, who is also director of the Innovative Media Research and Commercialization Center at UMaine. ‘It almost seems as if that’s impossible now, with these chemicals seemingly everywhere.’

Over the past year, Smith embarked on a journey to highlight and understand the disturbing prevalence of ‘forever chemicals’ through her art. She traveled to locations across the country with documented PFAS contamination, and collected soil, water and plant materials from them, in order to create pigments, paints, dyes and solutions to use to make art pieces like botanical prints, paintings, textile pieces and photographs.” …