Film Looks at Climate Change as a National Security Issue

Today is Veterans Day, a day to honor the men and women who have served in the armed forces. As such, it seems an appropriate time to highlight “The Age of Consequences” – a film that looks at climate change through the lens of national security and global stability.

Directed by Jared Scott, the film features a number of interviews with members of the military. While quick to point out that climate change is not the sole cause of any particular conflict, they discuss how it acts as a “threat multiplier” or “accelerant of instability”.

More specifically, the film shows how water and food shortages, drought, extreme weather, and sea-level rise have stressed social tensions to the point of armed conflict and/or mass migration in some of the more volatile regions of the world. Released in 2016, the war in Syria, the rise of ISIS, and the European refugee crisis are prominently featured.

Watch the trailer here:

Weather and Art: Rainworks

Rainy days can sometimes make people feel sad or depressed. This is what inspired artist Peregrine Church to create Rainworks – artwork activated by rain. His goal, he says, is “to give people a reason to smile on a rainy day”.

Based in Seattle, a city known for precipitation, he uses a super-hydrophobic spray to create images and sayings on concrete surfaces that are only visible when wet. As concrete gets wet, it gets darker. However, the areas covered in the waterproof coating stay dry and therefore lighter in color. This contrast allows the images and sayings to be visible to passersby.

Essentially street art, his first piece in 2014 was written on a city sidewalk and said “Stay Dry Out There”. He was soon joined his friend by Xack Fischer in creating Rainworks across the Emerald City.

In 2016, they started selling their specially formulated spray online. They also offer tutorials on their website to help people create their own Rainworks around the world. The spray according to the artists, is eco-friendly and biodegrades over the course of 2 to 4 months.

To date, more than 200 Rainworks have been created across five continents. You can find their locations (and add your own) on the Rainworks map.

A Rainwork in Yokohama, Japan. Image Credit: Rainworks Gallery

Storm King Art Center Exhibition Focuses on Climate Change

Art and science have come together to expand the public conversation on climate change  at Storm King Art Center in Orange County, NY. In an exhibition called Indicators: Artists on Climate Change, the work of seventeen artists and collectives address the diverse impacts of this critical issue.

Curated by Nora Lawrence, the exhibit is a mix of large-scale sculptures and installations spread out across the open air museum’s five-hundred acres as well as smaller pieces displayed in an indoor gallery.

Credit: Mary Mattingly/Storm King

Notable among the various projects is Mary Mattingly’s installation, Along the Lines of Displacement: A Tropical Food Forest. This stand of palm trees imported from Florida offers visitors a glimpse of what the landscape of upstate New York might look by the end of the century when the average temperature is expected to increase by 7.2°F (4°C) if global warming continues unabated.

Credit: Justin Brice Guarigila/Storm King

Another piece that stands out in Storm King’s bucolic setting is Justin Brice Guarigila’s We Are the Asteroid.  The orange colored, solar-powered LED highway message sign – the sort usually seen flashing information about dangerous situations – displays three-line ecological aphorisms by philosopher Timothy Morton. These include the piece’s moniker as well as things like “Danger: Anthropocentrism” and “Warning: Hurricane Human”.

Credit: Hara Woltz/Storm King

Embracing the science of climate change is Hara Woltz’s “Vital Signs”. In this interactive piece, a working weather station is encircled  by nine cylinders (a reference to the shape of ice-core tubes) that present the idea of albedo and melting sea ice. The top of each cylinder gets darker as a viewer moves around the circle. More specifically, the lighter area decreases by 13% per cylinder reflecting the predicted decrease in Arctic sea ice per decade relative to the 1981-2010 average. The cylinders also progressively get taller, referencing sea level rise. Data from the weather station is displayed in real time on Storm King’s website.

Other exhibiting artists include David Brooks, Dear Climate, Mark Dion, Ellie Ga, Allison Janae Hamilton, Jenny Kendler, Maya Lin, Alan Michelson, Mike Nelson, Steve Rowell, Gabriela Salazar, Rebecca Smith, Tavares Strachan, and Meg Webster.

The exhibit is on view through November 11, 2018.

Speaking Event: The Art and Science of Climate Change

Climate change is a complex scientific subject with a plethora of data-rich reports that detail its causation and diverse impacts. However, as important as all that information is, not everyone responds to facts and figures or charts and graphs. That is why art, which taps into human emotion and tells visual stories, can help create new pathways to understanding this critical issue that affects us all.

On Saturday, April 7, I will be giving a presentation titled, The Art and Science of Climate Change, at the Ann Street Gallery in Newburgh, NY. Blending my two passions, it introduces the basic science of climate change and explores how artists from around the globe are reacting to its various impacts and possible solutions.

Currently on view in the gallery is Anthropocene, a group exhibition in which I am showing pieces from my Under Glass series. Curated by Virginia Walsh, the show has been well covered in the press, including a blog post on Climate You and a nine page feature in Issues in Science and Technology, a magazine published by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

If you are in the area, please stop in and say hello. The program begins at 2PM and it is also the final day of the exhibition. The Ann Street Gallery is located at 104 Ann Street, Newburgh, NY.

“Memory: 41 years” is on view in the Anthropocene exhibit. Credit: Melissa Fleming

“Anthropocene”: A Look at Climate Change Through the Arts

Art and science are coming together at the Ann Street Gallery in Newburgh, NY to expand the public conversation on climate change. In a group exhibition called Anthropocene, artworks of various mediums explore the diverse impacts of this pressing issue.

In choosing Anthropocene as a title, the show highlights the fact that humans are the major cause of the Earth’s current transformation. The word, modeled on the names of geologic epochs, is widely used to describe the age we live in today where human activity is the dominant influence on the environment.

Curated by Virginia Walsh, the show features the work of: Darcie Abbatiello, Michael Asbill, Brigitte Amarger, Caitlin Cass, Reenie Charriere, Mariah Conner, Michael Fishcherkeller, Susan Fishman, Melissa Fleming, Stephanie Garon, Helen Glazer, Eloisa Guanlao, Colleen Keough, Dakotah Konicek, Rena Leinberger, Jonathan Barry Marquis, Gregory Martin, Daniel W. Miller, Sarah Misra, Itty Neuhaus, Maye Osborne, Elaine Quave, Jamie Rodriguez, John Shlichta, Gianna Stewart, and Uros Weinberger.

Anthropocene is on view from February 24 through April 7. The Ann Street Gallery is located at 104 Ann Street, Newburgh, NY. Gallery hours:
Wednesday – Thursday: 9 AM to 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM to 4 PM
Friday – Saturday: 11 AM to 5 PM

The opening reception is scheduled for Saturday, February 24th from 6:30 to 8:30 PM.

“Energy: 300 Million Years” by Melissa Fleming is one of the pieces in the show. Credit: Melissa Fleming

 

Weather and Art: “Love of Winter”

Today is Valentine’s Day, a holiday when chocolate treats and images hearts abound. But for me, it is George Bellows’ Love of Winter that always comes to mind as we mark the mid-point of what is usually New York City’s snowiest month of the year.

A longtime personal favorite, this 1914 painting captures the spirit of those who embrace the season. Filled with the blurred movement of skaters on a frozen pond and accented with spots of bright color that pop against the snow, it conveys the joy of being out in nature on a cold winter day.

While Bellows is better known for depicting scenes of boxing matches and urban life, art historians say he enjoyed the challenge of painting the varied lighting conditions produced by a snow-covered landscape. In fact, he wrote a letter to a friend in January 1914 complaining about the lack of snow in the New York City area that winter. He said, “There has been none of my favorite snow. I must paint the snow at least once a year.” Then, about a month later, his wish for snow was granted and this painting was created.

Love of Winter is part of the Friends of American Art Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago.

“Love of Winter”, 1914 by George Bellows. Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago

Art and Climate Change: “In Human Time”

The inaugural exhibition of The Climate Museum in New York City has brought art and science together in an effort to expand public understanding of climate change. 

“In Human Time” explores the intersections of polar ice, timescales, and human perception. Installed at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at the Parsons School of Design (the museum is looking for a permanent home), the exhibit is divided into two parts. The first of which (December 20 – January 15) displayed Zaria Forman’s large-scale image, Whale Bay, Antarctica No. 4. Depicting calved glacial ice grounded in shallow water, it could easily be mistaken for a photograph captured in an instant. However, a time-lapse video alongside the piece reveals it to be a pastel drawing created by hand over many weeks.

Ice Cores. Credit: Peggy Weil

The second part of the exhibition (January 19 – February 11) focuses on the Arctic and highlight’s Peggy Weil’s 88 Cores. This slow-paced video is essentially one continuous pan that takes the viewer nearly two miles down into the Greenland ice sheet and more than 100,000 years back in time. Photographs of ice cores as well as artifacts and media that offer a science context to the Arctic ice accompany the artwork.

“The Climate Museum’s mission,” according to its website, “ is to employ the sciences, art, and design to inspire dialogue and innovation that address the challenges of climate change, moving solutions to the center of our shared public life and catalyzing broad community engagement.”

The exhibition is on view through February 11, 2018, at :
The Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries
Sheila C. Johnson Design Center
Parsons School of Design
66 Fifth Avenue, New York City

For more information, visit http://climatemuseum.org/home

“Whale Bay, Antarctica No. 4″, Pastel on Paper, 84″x144”. Credit: Zaria Forman.

Climate Communication: Using Art to Get Beyond the Numbers

Climate change is a complex scientific subject with a plethora of data-rich reports that detail its causation and diverse impacts. However, as important as all that information is, not everyone responds well to facts and figures or charts and graphs. That is why art, which taps into human emotion and tells visual stories, can help create new pathways to understanding this vital issue that affects us all.

On Tuesday, January 9, I will be giving a presentation titled “Climate Communication: Using Art to Get Beyond the Numbers” at the 98th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Austin, Texas. The theme of this year’s conference is “Transforming Communication in the Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise“.

Building on my previous interdisciplinary art-science projects, this talk will review the results of a recent national survey that shows how art can help to broaden the public conversation on climate change. It will also highlight specific artworks that speak to the assorted impacts of this critical issue and its possible solutions.

Credit: AMS

Weather and Art: Charles Burchfield at the Montclair Art Museum

The weather was a muse for artist Charles Burchfield (1893-1967) and is the subject of a special exhibition of his work at the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey.

“Charles E. Burchfield: Weather Event” displays more than forty paintings and sketches of specific atmospheric phenomena as seen by the artist in the Buffalo, NY area during the early part of the 20th century. Co-curated by Dr. Stephen Vermette, a climatologist at SUNY Buffalo and Tullis Johnson, the archive manager at the university’s Burchfield Penney Art Center, the show is a thoughtful blend of art and science.

Grouped by themes, such as the sky, cloudscapes, changing seasons, heat waves, and moon halos, the wall text for each piece highlights the artistic processes involved and explains the meteorology portrayed in the different scenes. Some of the artworks are also accompanied by a phone number that viewers can call on their cell phones to listen to a simulated weather forecast for the specific date and location depicted in the image.

Burchfield was a visionary artist for his time and was given the first solo exhibition ever offered at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City in 1930. He was also an imaginative interpreter of nature. To convey the non-visible aspects of the natural world, he developed a vocabulary of various signs and symbols. These included chevrons in the sky to show wind and undulating lines across the landscape to express heat. He was truly captivated by the workings of the atmosphere and in 1943 said: “To me, the artist, interested chiefly in weather—all weather is beautiful, and full of powerful motion.”

The show is on view at the Montclair Art Museum through January 7, 2018.

“Sunburst”, 1929-31 by Charles Burchfield. Credit: Burchfield Penney Art Center.

Energy Flow: A Wind Powered Public Art Installation in Pittsburgh

On a recent visit to Pittsburgh, PA I had the opportunity to see “Energy Flow”, a wind-powered art installation on Rachel Carson Bridge. It was created in 2016 through a collaboration between environmental artist, Andrea Polli, and WindStax, a Pittsburgh-based wind turbine manufacturer.

Using sixteen small vertical axis wind turbines to power 27,000 LED lights, the piece produces a rainbow of colors up and down the bridge’s vertical supports. The light show visualizes the local wind speed and direction in real time as detected by an onsite weather station. The project also has battery storage to power the lights for up to twelve hours when the wind is not blowing. In essence, this artwork turned the bridge into a micro-grid – a single location where power is produced, stored and consumed.

As a site-specific art installation, it honors the environmental legacy of Rachel Carson (1907-1964). She was a native of the Pittsburgh area who went on to become a marine biologist and famous environmental writer. Her books, such as “Silent Spring”, are widely credited with inspiring the environmental movement of the 1960s that eventually brought about federal laws like the Clean Air Act.

The project also highlights Pittsburgh’s new focus on technological innovation and sustainability. Once known as the “Smokey City”, because of all the pollution that billowed from its plethora of mills and factories, Pittsburgh has refocused its economy and remade its image. Situated at the confluence of three rivers – the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio – it is home to an astounding 446 bridges and is now often referred to as the “City of Bridges”. The Rachel Carson Bridge was originally, and rather simply, called the Ninth Street Bridge after it opened in 1926. It was renamed on Earth Day 2006.

“Energy Flow” was only expected to be up for a few months to celebrate Pittsburgh’s Bicentennial. But due to popular demand, its run has been extended through the end of 2018.

“Energy Flow” Wind/Light Installation on Rachel Carson Bridge, Pittsburgh, PA. Credit: Covestro LLC