Creativity is at the very heart of science and art. It drives the passion that allows us to explore and express new findings, while satisfying our innermost curiosity. Science frames our world-view based on relevant facts and data, while art translates our lived experience into personal expression.
Today, we have a new climate reality. Scientists and policy makers struggle to gain support over meaningful environmental action on climate change. More than ever we need the rational, practical knowledge of science to help us understand the urgency of our situation. We also have a real need to explore this unfamiliar emotional terrain, to engage on an aesthetic level, and to create action through strong feelings of connection.
Art can help people conceive of a different existence. Artists can make the invisible visible, and the unimaginable real. Art has always been a powerful cultural symbol for making sense of our world and how we feel about it.
The Pacific Northwest is no stranger to climate change. While the effects are not as readily seen, it is clear that climatic shifts are beginning to alter our region with less snowpack, warmer days, flooding, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and record-breaking wildfires.
Using the framework of science, art, and climate change in the Pacific Northwest, I will explore the history of environmental art, and the artists and art organizations working on these issues today.
Questions I am interested in exploring are: How has art shaped and influenced the climate discussion in our region? Are artists and art organizations affecting perceptions of climate change in our community? What sort of reactions have they seen from the public? What plans do these artists and organizations have for future engagement around the topic? How are they dealing with the emotional repercussions of climate change? How can artists and art organizations help create action and policy change in our region?
Using research, current news, past and upcoming exhibits, and interviews with artists and art institutions, I will create a profile of contemporary art and climate change in our region. As part of my research I will collect relevant images, exhibit announcements, and portraits of the artists. My end goal will be to design and create a physical book in which to share with the artists and organizations I have profiled, and anyone else who may be interested in the topic.
The relevance of art in science communication cannot be overlooked. Over the last decade, climate communication research has raised awareness of the critical role of framing in influencing how people respond to information, and the way reasoning occurs. By overstating the scientific and economic framing of climate change, we have missed the mark on understanding the deeper importance of tapping into emotions, values, and social and cultural identities.
Art can bridge this gap by creating a broad narrative, a tactile or visceral experience, and raw emotional engagement to current and future realities of a world enmeshed in climate crisis. Let’s hope it isn’t too late.
Musings, a bit of sarcasm, and things I find interesting.