Narsaq Sound, Greenland by Len Jenshel
The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington is currently showing the exhibition Vanishing Ice: Alpine and Polar Landscapes in Art, 1775-2012. Curated by Barbara Matilsky, with an accompanying catalogue distributed by University of Washington Press, the exhibition provides a 200-year overview of artists’ responses to the enduring fascination that frigid and isolated places seem to exert on the human imagination. While climate change is, at least in the public consciousness, a relatively recent concern, our desire to conquer the poles is not. In that context, it is interesting to step back and look at the evolution of Arctic imagery, from early 18th century romantic depictions of forbidden landscapes to contemporary works highlighting the vulnerability and fragility of polar environments. Artists from Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Russia, Switzerland and the United States are represented. Notable among them are Arctic veteran photographers James Balog, whose ambitious project Extreme Ice Survey was recently featured in the documentary Chasing Ice; Subhankar Banerjee, a leading voice on issues of arctic conservation, indigenous human rights, resource development and climate change; Gary Braasch and his World View of Global Warming project; and David Buckland, founder of the British organization Cape Farewell.
Artists and Climate Change is a blog by playwright Chantal Bilodeau that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.
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