ecoartapace ecoartspace is a nonprofit platform providing opportunities for artists who address the human/nature relationship in the visual arts. Since 1999 they have collaborated with over 150 organizations to produce more than 40 exhibitions, 100 programs, working with 400 + artists in 15 states nationally and 8 countries internationally. Currently they are developing a media archive of video interviews with artists and collection of exhibitions ephemera for research purposes. Patricia Watts is founder and west coast curator. Amy Lipton is east coast curator and director of the ecoartspace NYC project room.
A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999
The landscape you grow up in influences how you see and move through the world. At least that holds true for me.
I spent most of my life in rural New York where I was lucky to develop an understanding of the unbalanced relationship between people and the natural environment at an early age. Most residents in my community were proud that the cornerstone of their identity was being distinctly anti-city (particularly New York City). They, and myself included at the time, believed that the urban metropolis was primarily comprised of pollution and people who didn’t care about the environment: how could they care when they were so removed from nature? The hypocrisy of this way of thinking, of course, can be found in the enormous amount of energy required to live a rural lifestyle. You must be transported – individually – to be educated, to earn a living, to buy food that’s been shipped from distant places, to have human connection. This produces an immense amount of carbon. And it’s what American national identity was built on.
I currently live in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan, but I still find myself seeking out areas of the city that are less populated, and where other aspects of the natural ecosystem are more explicitly synthesized.
I make my images from the perspective that the landscape I’m photographing is changing at a more rapid rate than ever before. Prior to moving back to New York, I lived in Louisiana for several years where a trip to the coast is never the same because of rapid coastal erosion.
We are often told that certain weather events are the most severe, the most catastrophic, and the most rare. But many of us – those fortunate enough to have been spared from a terrible environmental disaster – don’t experience these events in the same way, or at least in a way that encourages lifestyle change. It’s too easy, despite continuous media coverage, to be removed from the wildfires in California or the flooding in Houston. Because of this distance, climate change remains an abstract concept for a majority of people.
The impact of climate change is more commonly conveyed through images of disaster or aerial shots that give the viewer an opportunity to dissociate. Though important to see, in the longer term these images do not motivate people to believe in a better world
In my projects, I focus on daily life in landscapes most vulnerable to environmental changes or landscapes already facing the need to adapt. I approach scenes that are reflective of the everyday, but incorporate symbols of a changing physical world with details that only become visible when the photographs are viewed together. Very few photographs of mine convey the same message when viewed alone. An image of a sinking houseboat in the Atchafalaya Basin of Louisiana develops a more holistic meaning when viewed alongside a survey of different structures in the area. Architectural style and land use patterns of a region provide details and insight into the values of a certain place.
Historically, men have dominated landscape photography and painting, as well as most other art forms. Their images have taught us how to live, what a desirable landscape might be, and how to interact with the physical world. The male perspective on the land created American Landscape Art as a genre – our national identity was built on idealized images of nature as much as it was built on portraiture.
Some of my favorite photographers are those who were able to communicate a sense of place through massive photographic surveys. Edward Burtynsky, Frank Gohlke, Richard Misrach, Joel Sternfeld, and Ansel Adams created images that changed my life and inspired me to see more of the world. At the same time, these images were taught to me because of the immense privilege and affluence that these men possessed. They were able to travel alone, across great distances, to secluded places, and had the ability to create pieces of art without fear.
Photographs are subjective. The reasoning behind the creation of an image is imbedded in one’s personal history – their life experience, their memories good and bad, their aspirations. As a woman, I know it’s important to bring a perspective on landscape that’s been historically marginalized. In her book As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender, and Art, Rebecca Solnit describes the difference between the photographs produced by men and those produced by women, stating that “compositionally, the work of the genders seemed distinct, with the women’s work abandoning the sweeping prospect for more intimate and enclosed scenes.” Of course, this is not meant to be a generalization – there are certainly respected female landscape photographers. However, at this moment in environmental history, it’s critical to recognize that the male gaze on the land has helped shape our relationship with nature.
This unique moment in time forces us to re-conceptualize how and where we live, and to acknowledge that the right to build wherever we want will likely cease to exist. Before physical and structural changes can happen, however, there must be changes in how we think about inhabiting the world. We can build levees, but without an understanding of ecosystems and environmental stewardship, those levees will become isolated fortresses. Art provides endless opportunities to bridge that gap by engaging people and catalyzing collective action to create strong communities.
(Top image: Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana.)
Virginia Hanusik is a photographer whose work focuses on architecture and landscapes impacted by climate change. Her projects have been featured in Places Journal, NPR, Fast Company, Newsweek, and The Atlantic, among others, and she has exhibited work internationally. Her most recent body of work, A Receding Coast: The Architecture and Infrastructure of South Louisiana, documents climate adaptation along the Gulf Coast and has been shown in New Orleans and Berlin with support by the Graham Foundation. She grew up in the Hudson River Valley region of New York and currently lives in Brooklyn where she is a member of the Climate Working Group at New York University’s Asian/Pacific/American Institute. She likes to kayak more than almost anything.
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.
Energy Revolution balances 3 million travel miles from 2018 festivals & tours with Solar for Schools
Energy Revolution is a charity with a mission to help the live events industry tackle the negative environmental impacts from fossil fuel travel to events. In 2018, it helped its members, from a growing number of festivals and their audiences, suppliers and touring artists, to balance or ‘offset’ the carbon emissions from over 3 million average car miles to events – the equivalent of 962,274 kg CO2e.
100% of balancing donations from 2018 will to go to Solar for Schools, an initiative that puts solar panels on the roofs of schools in the UK, allowing them to produce low-cost clean electricity, while also educating children about the importance of a low carbon future.
New Energy Revolution members in 2018 included: Download and Reading festivals, produced by Festival Republic, who have long championed festival sustainability initiatives. They donated £1 from every car-parking pass sold to Energy Revolution. Artist, Novo Amor joined the charity in 2018 to balance the CO2 from his 2018 European and North American tour travel. Festival travel provider, Tuned in Travel joined last year balancing 100% of the CO2 from passenger travel to events. Ticket agent, The Ticketsellers, who have worked with the charity from the start, have continued to support the project by introducing their clients to travel-balancing and making it simple for them to join by embedding a travel carbon calculator into the ticket-buying process.
Since it was founded in 2015 Energy Revolution has supported its members to balance over 8.4 million average car miles – that’s more than 2.6 million kg CO2e – with donations in previous years supporting reforestation and wind turbines in India and community-owned solar and wind projects in the UK.
Energy Revolution’s original aim was to help their members balance 10 million travel miles by 2020, but, with growing commitment from the industry and more festivals, suppliers and artists joining the movement, they are on track to reach the goal ahead of schedule this year. Ultimately the charity aims to create a grant-making legacy fund, which can support on-going work to reduce carbon emissions created by the festival and touring sector.
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.