Yearly Archives: 2017

Silk Painting Photography and Climate Change

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

Visual artists are often solitary creatures, drawing their creative inspiration from the world around them – music, nature, relationships, politics –working sequestered in their individual studios. This typical artist way of working has been thrown overboard by us – myself, a silk painter and environmental planner based in Boston’s North Shore, and Leslie Bartlett, a photographer and Cape Ann, Massachusetts local historian. For the past three years, we have been working together as an artist collaborative – SQ and LB Artist Collaboration. I work from a silk painting teaching studio/cooperative named Ten Pound Studio in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Ten Pound Studio. I bring my work to Les’ studio in Manchester, Massachusetts where we collaborate on our exhibits using Les’ computer and printers.

Our goal is to present – through silk paintings, photography, and montages of the two media – an emotional fusion of the art and science of climate change as it impacts Boston and the North Shore’s coastal landscapes. We draw deeply from our individual passion for pristine landscapes. Our past experiences of landscapes, however, are from two different countries, and two very different perspectives. I was born in Shropshire in the UK, a county of extraordinary beauty: green rolling hills, open fields still in agricultural use, the meandering River Severn, old castles, and Tudor and Stuart architecture. Leslie is from Epsom, New Hampshire and lived there before it was developed into many subdivisions. He knows the place as a rural town of remote houses tucked into deep woods of oak, ash, poplar and maple, where there were few open vistas but many opportunities to live quietly and deeply with nature. We both became artists in mid-life. I turned to silk painting after a career in urban and environmental planning; Les became a renowned photographer of the quarries and nature of Cape Ann following a sojourn as a juggler at Le Grand David Magic Company. Our collaboration is grounded in our desire to help natural landscapes survive intact and unsullied by human thoughtlessness, as well as in our commitment to high aesthetic standards in painting, photography and printing.

Skyscape silk painting, Shrewsbury, UK (left). Photograph of Magic Illusion, Le Grand David Magic Company (right).

We started off with an examination of the effects of sea level rise and storm surges on the North Shore coastal landscape. We worked closely with the environmental education department of Mass Audubon Society to understand the science of climate change and sea level rise in Essex County. Montages of silk paintings and photos of drowning iconic images followed in a series of exhibits on Climate Change and the Great Marsh; Storm Surge and Drowning Arthur Fiedler.

Exhibit of Climate Change and the Great Marsh, Ipswich, MA.

In 2016, we turned to looking at what makes a landscape resilient to climate change, drawing inspiration from scientific research on climate change resiliency by Dr. Mark Anderson of The Nature Conservancy. While walking through the quarries of Rockport, it occurred to me that the varied landforms – rocky coastlands, water-covered quarries surrounded by lichen-covered granite boulders left over from the quarry industry which deserted this area in 1930, forested wetlands of sumac and swamp white oaks – create a diversity of micro-climates. In turn, these micro-climates buffer the wildlife from the effects of climate change. The undeveloped lands serve as a stronghold for the natural habitats in the quarry landscape. Nature has a chance to survive. As an artist collaborative, Les and I decided to create an exhibit to illustrate The Resilient Quarry Landscape of Cape Ann. With the assistance of a local non-profit organization, we secured grants from Applied Materials, Essex County Ecology Center, and Essex County Greenbelt Association to create an outdoor exhibit of silk paintings and photography. The silk prints hung from 10-feet high copper stands, and two boards displayed graphics of the science of climate change resilience. The exhibit was in conjunction with a series of dazzling quarry dance performances by Dusan Tynek Dance Theatre over a three-day weekend at a quarry in Lanesville, Gloucester.

Quarry Dance 5 silk painting and photography exhibit, Lanesville, MA.

We collaborated closely with Windhover Center for Performing Arts, as well as Essex County Greenbelt Association, who ​owns the quarries in this locale, and who organized talks and tours of the area. The spectacular blend of nature, music, art and science is still remembered by people who came to this free event.

Today ‘resilience’ is a pressing topic for our Artist Collaboration, as shown on our website. Drawing on our Cape Ann work, we were invited to create a dual exhibit on The Resilient Landscape of Marblehead and Cape Ann: Viewed Through the Prism of Ecology and Stories for the Marblehead Arts Association, (MAA,) May 5 – June 18, 2017. We looked at both climate change resilience and the quarries of Cape Ann, and at community resilience, expressed through the preservation of nature sanctuaries within the town of Marblehead. To do this work, we spent the winter walking through many woods, ocean side preserves, and an Audubon Sanctuary, in Marblehead. We collaborated with a local storyteller, Judith Black, who introduced us to local historians and recently presented a program of storytelling with us at the MAA. Les found an extraordinary rock in the woods of Steer Swamp, with unique granite markings. The rock became an iconic image of the exhibit – in both photography and silk paintings. This August the exhibit moves to the Lanesville Community Center in Gloucester, MA; next year to Cornell University.

As an Artist Collaboration, we have the luxury of exploring concepts, themes, and artistic media in a collaborative fashion. For me, this makes the ‘work’ in artwork more exciting, and it pulls me into new directions. For Les, his love of rock and rural landscape gains a new focus when interpreted through my silk paintings – especially in the light of climate change.

(Top image: Collaborative collage of silk painting and photography, Marblehead Arts Association exhibit, 2017.)

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Susan Quateman is an environmental planner, who formerly directed the Mass Dept. of Transportation’s Open Space Program. After many years of working as an urban and environmental planner and landscape designer, she became a silk painter. Four years ago, Susan decided to combine silk painting with her environmental background, and focused on issues of climate change in the North Shore’s coastal landscapes. She has since exhibited her silk paintings solo and with Les Bartlett’s photography, in many Boston and North Shore locales. She has published articles in Silkworm, the Gloucester Daily Times and Marblehead Reporter, as well as Cornell University’s College of Art, Architecture and Planning Newsletter.

Leslie Bartlett is a Cape Ann Historian and landscape photographer who loves climbing down into abandoned granite quarries to photograph mineralized rock walls in their luminescent colors. His scramble and free rock climbing is enabled by his some 30 years of juggling with a Stage Magic Company in Beverly, MA. During his stint with the Le Grand David Magic Company he learned to wait as long as 25 years for the right image to appear before the camera lens. He has exhibited at the Cape Ann Museum and Rockport Art Association on Cape Ann, SOHO Photo in NY, twice at the Vermont State Capital, and at the Michigan State University Law School.


About Artists and Climate Change:

Artists and Climate Change is a blog 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.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

Opportunity: Nithraid Associate Artist

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

Through this project, The Stove are seeking an individual that would be able to offer guidance and support in construction and provide creative input in designing a staging area made from reclaimed boat timber for musical acts to perform on during the festival.

The Stove are looking for an individual to work on this project who will take into account the needs and theme of the festival alongside the ethos of Blueprint100, who can incorporate furher ideas of sustainability and nautical history into their work.

The deadline for applications 30th of June. 

Find more details about conditions and how to apply here


As part of the annual riverside festival and procession Nithraid, Blueprint100, an artists group for under thirties are building a community arts project that will combine visual art and the idea of using reclaimed materials to tie in with the nautical theme of the festival. Nithraid will take place on the 9th of September 2017, with construction days taking place on 14th-20th of August.



The post Opportunity: Nithraid Associate Artist appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.



 

About Creative Carbon Scotland:

Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

Open Call: £10,000 Environment Now Challenge

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

If you have got an idea to help the environment, such as improving energy efficiency, reducing waste or increasing recycling, and you are aged between 17 and 24, then you could apply for up to £10,000 from The Environment Now to bring your idea to life!

The Environment Now is an exciting new opportunity from O2’s Think Big that will fund 17-24 years old with a grant of up to £10,000 to create their unique digital ideas to help the environment, such as improving energy efficiency, reducing waste, or recycling. Successful applicants will be supported by The Environment Now team, their own professional mentor and other sustainability partners.

This programme is open to all young people aged 17-24 UK wide. They would have 10 months to use the grant funding.

Applications for funding are open until July 14th. Go to The Environment Now website to read the full criteria and apply.

The Environment Now programme is funded by O2 and the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund, and is part of the Our Bright Future programme. It is managed by the National Youth Agency.

 



The post Opportunity: £10,000 Grant from The Environment Now appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.



 

About Creative Carbon Scotland:

Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

Fear, Climate Grief, and Comics About Climate Change

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

When my friend emailed me a link to that New York Times piece about a growing crack in an Antarctic ice shelf in February, I saved one of the images from the article to my computer. In it, the crack is a long, gray line on the white ice, like mechanical pencil drawn with an unsteady hand. An impossibly thin line, a few miles wide in real life, splitting the ice in two. The crack has grown in the months since I downloaded that photo, and soon it will break off entirely. The shelf will crash into the sea. The very old glacier behind it will begin to melt.

I open the file and look at it so often it feels like the crack is in my mind: widening, terrifyingly persistent, snaking deeper and deeper into the ice.
Six months ago, I began organizing an anthology of comics by some of my favorite experimental cartoonists to describe something that I’ve felt in myself and watched my friends experience, but haven’t always seen reflected in art: climate change grief. That hairline crack in consciousness, knowing that the earth is changing and dying. The emotion of the rift in the ice.
I’m a cartoonist. I make poetry comics—comics that use the motion of the panel and sequential image to make poetry. They’re not always narrative, often not linear. I’m interested in pushing comics forward into stranger, deeper waters, to see how the form can express human experience more precisely.
Warmer, open to a piece by Alyssa Berg.

The nuances of poetry comics are well-suited to take on climate grief. It’s a strange kind of grief, so big it’s almost impossibly abstract. Miles and miles of ocean, rising! Massive icebergs, melting, cracking, crashing into the sea! Entire species, crashing into extinction! Entire ecosystems, thrown off balance! A grief as big as the planet.
But it’s also small—a hairline crack so far away it’s nearly imaginary; small enough that I can sometimes go a whole day forgetting that anything has gone wrong. I go to work and come home again, forgetting for eight or twelve hours that anything is out of the ordinary.

Then I remember. In March, when the flower beds of Boston’s South End bloomed a little too early, only to be bitten back by frost. In February, when the weather was unseasonably warm, like a premature spring, and the sun was hot on my neck.

What are we supposed to do with this existential heartbreak, knowing that our world is dying?

What are we supposed to do with this unshakable feeling that our world is Good, and it is Good for people to live here; it is Good for ecosystems to continue on as they have; it is Good for families of humans and families of all sorts of animals to live, as they have done, since the beginning of creation? What are we supposed to do with all of this enormous, inexpressible beauty, and the enormous, crushing reality of the ways we are destroying it?

Caitlin Skaalrud



A great deal of art and design produced around climate change is created with the unconvinced or uninformed in mind. And while I am deeply grateful for the hard work of those who educate, and plan, and organize—and I do a little of that myself—I think that there is a deep grief, profoundly physical and spiritual, that comes with knowing what is happening to the world; a grief that needs to be addressed.

Out of all of this—the grief and confusion and half-willful forgetfulness—I decided to make an anthology called Warmer: A collection of comics about climate change for the fearful & hopeful.

Because here is the truth: I am confused, and I am scared. Most days I am tentatively hopeful, and most days I would prefer to forget all of this and never think about it again. I am angry at those in power, and I am angry at myself. I am grieving, abstractly, for people in nations I will never visit, full of families whose homes will be underwater soon. I am grieving for my hypothetical children, and their hypothetical children, and their hypothetical children. I am grieving for myself.

For the last six months, I’ve worked with my friend and co-editor, cartoonist Andrew White, to curate a collection of comics that engage with what we’ve felt ourselves as we’ve tried to come to terms with climate change. We gathered nineteen writers and cartoonists from around the world (and contributed work ourselves) to make a book of comics full of pain, and fear, and hope, and grief. Some are funny, some are mournful, all are strange and honest.

Maggie Umber



I decided to make an anthology because climate grief is difficult to face by yourself. It is a communal grief, a communal fear, a communal guilt. I brought eighteen other artists around me because it is easier to walk into a dark place when you’re with other people, even when you’re not sure what lies in wait for you.

One unexpected delight of making an anthology—bringing together a group of people from all different continents, with different lives and thoughts and ways of drawing—has been the diversity of expression.

Denmark-based cartoonist Tor Brandt and Minnesota-based cartoonist Caitlin Skaalrud both made apocalyptic comics that imagine a strange, difficult future. Others, like Virginia-based Andrew White (also my co-editor), and Washington-based Jonathan Bell Wolfe, crafted dreamy, meditative pieces that overwhelm with their quietude. And a few approached the enormity of the impending tragedy by looking very closely at a specific species—humpback whales and bees in particular (pieces drawn by New York-based Alyssa Berg and Minnesota-based Maggie Umber).

Madeleine Witt



To be clear: I don’t have any answers. And answers are certainly what we need now, badly—answers about what should be done, how we ought to live, how we ought to deconstruct and rebuild our societies and governments and industries, to save our world.

What I do have—and part of what I need—is a book of gorgeous, scary, sad, strange, hopeful comics that remind me of my place in the world, and make me feel a little less alone.

We’re publishing the book with the help of Kickstarter. You can pre-order a copy, and help us make sure it gets to print, HERE.

(Top image: Cover art by Madeleine Witt.)

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Madeleine Witt is a designer, illustrator, and cartoonist. She is one of the co-editors of Warmer: A collection of comics about climate change for the fearful & hopeful. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. You can read her comics in Guernica Magazine, or on her website.


About Artists and Climate Change:

Artists and Climate Change is a blog 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.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog