This week, I visited Agnes Scott College’s Dalton Gallery to view its current exhibition: “Weatherwise/Otherwise: Artists Respond to Climate Change.”
Climate change is an issue that will ultimately affect everyone, and as such, we need to find ways of communicating it to everyone. This means that we must use various forms of communication in order to get the message across: writing, videos, podcasts, infographics, lectures, and even art. To more visual learners, this exhibit can provide a striking, unique, and incredibly effective form of learning. The pieces are stunning enough to capture our attention and captivating enough to keep us thinking about the issue long afterwards.
Besides using multiple forms of media to communicate climate change, there are multiple ways to express the issue through various forms of art.
For instance, one artist, Jill Pelto, incorporates data, graphs, and numeric quantities into her paintings. Another group of artists called Superflex created a scene of a flooded McDonald’s to emphasize the rising tides caused by the Earth’s warming. Some artists also use plays, short films, comics, and documentaries to convey their messages. Another movement, titled “MaskBook” even allows individuals from around the world to create their own forms of climate change art. Anyone can create and submit a face mask intended to express the connection between climate change and air pollution/health. In my opinion, these participatory forms of art are extremely effective; they recognize the global scope of the issue by demonstrating that climate change can affect human health regardless of location and culture.
My favorite piece in the Dalton Gallery exhibition was by Bruce Bobick, who contrasted disparate colors and artistic elements in order to convey the strange, unusual environments climate change is creating, such as a penguin surrounded by fields of flowers or a snowy owl surrounded by tropical birds. The contrasts in his pieces, such as “The Puzzled Penguin Triptych” and “Patch for the Hole in the Ozone Layer” are striking enough to make an audience really consider the extremity of climate change effects.
I also enjoyed Nathalie Miebach’s sculpture, “Sibling Rivalry,” which depicts the chaotic effects of Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy in New Orleans. The sculpture uses paper, wood, and fibers to create a representation of the Mississippi River and the New Orleans coastline following the storms, and it incorporates real weather data throughout. Mary Edna Fraser’s beautiful silk batiks also did a wonderful job of conveying landscapes altered by weather and climate change, including the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, the erosion of coastal shorelines, and shifting icebergs.
Though most people don’t usually think of art as a typical form of activism, it can be extremely effective in promoting social causes. More of my favorite art pieces include that of Christine Simpson, Betty Butler, Barry Underwood, and Ilona Mettiäinen. View more climate related art pieces here.
View the work of some of the artists from the Dalton Gallery’s exhibition: Peter Bahouth, Bruce Bobick, Mary Edna Fraser, Carolyn Halliday, Kathryn Kolb, Bettina Matzkuhn, Qavavau Manumie, Nathalie Miebach, Ohotaq Mikkigak, Ningiukulu Teevee, and Karen Reese Tunnell. A full catalog of art pieces from the Dalton gallery’s exhibit can be found here.