Yearly Archives: 2018

Sea of Troubles

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

As human systems affect the Earth’s oceans, the oceans in turn affect life on land. The oceans function as the Earth’s climate system, pumping heat and moisture around the globe. Ocean currents regulate the temperature and precipitation on the continents, shaping the climate. Climate change has drastically affected the health and function of our oceans.

The ocean’s role in climate change is explored by many contemporary artists who take on the topics of melting glacial ice, warming seas, storm surge, flooded coastal cities and ocean water pollution. These artists communicate the science of these environmental issues in an accessible visual manner, and consider science, exploration and activism as a key part of their art.

As those familiar with the fundamentals of global warming know, the root cause is the warming of the earth due to the increased emission of greenhouse gases. The burning of fossil fuels releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it traps heat. The earth’s oceans absorb most of this excess heat.

The effect of this extensive heat absorption on the oceans is drastic. As the temperature of the oceans rise, the seawater expands, resulting in rising seas. This sea level rise is one of the most dramatic consequences of global warming, flooding land and infrastructure, particularly along coastal areas.

Warmer temperatures also precipitate the melting of the glaciers and the enormous ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica. As the ice melts a huge volume of water is added to the oceans, causing the sea levels to rise drastically.

Diane Burko, Landsat Jakobshavn B, 2015. Oil and Flashe Paint on Canvas, 42″x72″.

Melting glaciers have been the focus of artist Diane Burko for several decades. She has investigated geological phenomena throughout the world in collaboration with research scientists, and has undertaken expeditions to some of the largest remaining ice fields.

Large-scale series of paintings and photographs document the disappearance of glaciers. Her painting of Greenland’s largest outlet glacier (Landsat Jakobshavn B) depicts a glacier that has receded over 40km in the past 100 years.

Diane is an environmental activist and has been a keynote speaker at scientific conferences such as the American Geophysical Union, and she is written about in scientific journals such as Scientific American. She considers her environmental work as an integral part of her artistic practice.

Global warming also affects oceans by increasing water vapor in the atmosphere, resulting in more precipitation and stronger storms. These storms developing at sea, such as Katrina, Harvey and Sandy Super storms, are becoming more cataclysmic every year.

The deluge that comes with warming waters is forcefully depicted in Marina Zurkow’s video installation Dreams of the Deluge.

Marina Zurkow Elixir I,ii,ii,iv. Series of four works(4) 5:00 minute loops. Dimensions variable; custom framed 24″ monitor with MPlayer for 1920×1080 projection or monitor.

Zurkow is a founding member of the “Dear Climate” project. She and her collaborators are trying to encourage personal engagement with the climate to change the way both the science and the thinking around climate change is communicated. The project is deeply rooted in research, scientific fact, and data collection.

In this essay, “Crossing the Waters,” author Michael Connor writes:

“Marina Zurkow’s recent works in video problematize our relationship with images of apocalypse…. But Zurkow’s floods, unlike most apocalyptic imagery, are not purely dreams, allegories, or devices; they are based on natural science research, on the calculations of supercomputers that project present ocean temperatures into an uncertain future. They refer not only to the future, but to the recent past of extreme weather events.”

Resa Blatman, Drenched and Overgrown (detail), 2016. Oil and Latex paint on hand- and laser-cut Mylar, PETG, and Lexan, 108h x 234w x 10d inches.

Global warming also increases ocean acidification and affects the environment. Much of the increased carbon dioxide is being absorbed by the ocean. This disruption causes severe problems for marine species and vegetation.

Artist Resa Blatman says her current paintings and installations speak to issues surrounding climate change within the natural environment and in particular the oceans.  Her dazzling painted laser cut and cut mylar installations are about oceans, living and dying vegetation in the oceans, and the fragile environment.

More intense storms amplify ocean storm surges, resulting in inundation and destruction. Storm surges are the increased rise in seawater due to the storms. The destruction is predominantly along coastal areas as super storms charge up the coast.

The clash between rising seas and built infrastructure is the focus of my work. Much of the devastation is due to water activity, including intense precipitation and floods. My aerial view paintings explore the consequence of building along fragile coastal ecosystems.

Lisa Reindorf, 6 panels Storm Surge, 2017. Oil and gel on Metal Panels, 96” x 64”.

Much of the work addresses the obliteration of the natural world to make way for cities — and the obliteration of cities by the natural world. There is an inherent conflict between nature and building. Nature has created its owns systems, and anytime we build or put in infrastructure, we’re interfering with that. The environment strikes back- with storms and rising seas. In the multi panel Storm Surge, waves and rising seas inundate a coastal city. Some of the structural grid is unmoored and floats out to sea.

I am is an active member of the Citizens Climate Lobby and speak at environmental conferences and symposiums on the conflict of infrastructure and rising seas.

As we become more aware of the precarious nature of our habitat, this work highlights the extreme vulnerability of the oceans. The world’s biggest metropolises are located along coastal areas. The calamities wrought by climate change compel us toward a greater sense of ecological justice.

The topic of climate change and the oceans is extremely complex. Artists can convey visual information in their work, connecting scientific information with human insight in a manner that engages the viewer. Additionally, many artists, including the ones described above, are involved in environmental organizations that are concerned with educating the public and protecting our oceans. A few of these organizations are listed below.  I encourage you all to join one, become more informed, and contribute to the excellent work being done.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
The Ocean Foundation
Ocean Conservancy
And many others!

(Top image: Lisa Reindorf, Ocean Invaders, 2017. Oil and gel on 6 Metal Panels, 96” x 64”.)


Lisa Reindorf is an artist, architect and environmental activist. Her work concerns the collision of architectural systems and natural systems, as it relates to Climate Change. She has a BA in Design of the Environment from the University of Pennsylvania and received her MA from Columbia University. She was also an instructor at RISD. She is represented by Galatea Gallery in Boston, and has exhibited extensively in NY, California, Mexico and Europe.


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

The Children’s Zero Waste Climate Quilt Project

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

Empowerment: The Children’s Zero Waste Climate Quilt Project made its debut at the Cheshire Children’s Museum in Keene, New Hampshire in March of 2017. It was inspired by another art piece that I started working on in New York City in 2012. I had been engaging the public at art openings and ecologically minded events to think about our plastic waste footprint through my art piece The Plastic Bag Project – a giant ball made from single-use plastic bags that have been cut into strips and then braided and crocheted together to form a kind of plastic rope. Imagine a huge ball of yarn, but made entirely out of plastic bags. The ball weighs over 80 lbs and when unrolled stretches out to the length of four football fields.

I invited people to touch the ball, pull on it, try to lift it, unroll it, sit on it and sometimes even stand on it. It was a big hit and really helped people understand that one plastic bag might seem inconsequential, but more than six thousand bags can have a serious impact. I had many conversations about the problem of plastic pollution and its effects on the environment. Children, in particular, easily interacted with the ball and had much to say about the issues facing the planet. This inspired me so much that I began to think of another art project that would directly engage children to create their own art, and give them the opportunity to chime in on the issue.

At about the same time that the idea of a children’s art project began to take shape, I was educating myself on the science of climate change and its relationship to human waste and, in particular, to non-biodegradable and/or non-recyclable garbage. Through the course of my research, I came across the Zero Waste Movement, which aims to show that we can make a difference in the future health of the planet if we are mindful of the non-biodegradable or non-recyclable garbage that we put into landfills on a daily basis, and try to reduce it. Additionally, rather than contributing to unbridled consumerism and purchasing new items, we can strive to put to good use worn or used items that still have life in them.

I wanted to find a way to bring this information to children in a visceral and intuitive manner. Because of the The Plastic Bag Project, I knew that it was possible, but I wanted to go deeper by challenging the children to create their own art out of materials such as packaging and plastic that so often go directly into a trash can without any thought for how many dozens or even hundreds of years that waste will remain buried under the ground or drifting in an ocean. If The Plastic Bag Project was a public, interactive art piece created to raise awareness, now the goal was to have the public not just interact with an already-formed art piece but to raise the stakes and create mindful art as a community.

Empowerment: The Children’s Zero Waste Climate Quilt Project takes place in a workshop setting. Typically, the first half of the workshop is a presentation by a guest speaker or myself on the human contribution to climate change and its harmful effects on all life forms. Then the children are given the opportunity to respond to what they’ve just heard. Each child is given a cardboard square and makes a statement on that square in the form of a drawing or through words. Painted cardboard boxes with waste statistics imprinted on the outside are set up around the classroom filled with discarded things that are found or collected in the community. Children are encouraged to browse and look for waste to use in their quilt square. The squares come from pre-cut cereal or snack boxes and other packaging that I collect from the trash or through donation from the community.

In keeping with the ideology of Zero Waste, none of the tools and materials used to assemble a quilt are purchased. All the pens, pencils, crayons, glues, scissors, etc. are used art supplies donated by citizens. After the children have created their artistic statements on the squares, the squares are “quilted” or tied together with strips of plastic from single-use plastic bags or packaging such as bread bags that have been collected from the trash or donated by the community. The cardboard squares have holes in them around their edges that allow them to be tied together with the plastic strips. Since nothing has been purchased to make a quilt, there is no financial cost. The entire project is made from recycled or reused materials.

While the workshops typically last two hours, the time needed to assemble a quilt, including the preparation of gathering packaging and garbage from the local waste management facility or donation boxes, and then sorting it, cleaning it, drying it, cutting it into useful portions or strips, and boxing it can take weeks. I do most of the prep work, but other artists, educators and members of the community are instrumental in helping to organize, present, gather materials, promote, and support the project. We work together to ensure that children feel empowered, not just when they see their artwork displayed, but also when they realize that their opinions and outlooks on the future health of the planet are valued and needed. They become part of the solution by becoming involved, growing more mindful, expressing their opinions and helping to educate others.

Currently, five quilts have been made and are traveling to different venue in the Northeast to help raise awareness about climate change and waste.

(All photos by Carolyn Monastra.)


Danielle Baudrand is an emerging self-taught artist, working primarily in mixed media. She often uses discarded objects, and explores the feelings associated with discarded objects. Her most recent work The Plastic Bag Project uses the repeated process of braiding and crocheting bags together to make one long chain that reaches over four football fields long. In this process she turns the thoughtlessness of discarded objects into mindfulness. Her work has been featured at the New York Hall of Science, The Iran International Green Festival, the Green Festival along other galleries, conferences and public spaces.

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

Life, Death, Doppelgangster and the Anthropocene

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

It’s 1957, and eminent herpetologist Dr. Karl Patterson Schmidt is examining a juvenile rear-fanged boomslang snake at the Chicago Field Museum, when he grasps the serpent behind the neck and is pierced by a single fang on the fleshy area between thumb and forefinger on his left hand. Presuming the snake’s venom to be non-toxic, Schmidt spends the next 24 hours documenting the increasingly horrifying effects of the venom until, in the middle of the following day, he suffers respiratory paralysis and shortly afterwards dies; hemorrhaging blood from his eyes, nose and mouth.

Fifty-eight years later, December 2015, I am perched amongst the early morning coffee drinkers in a busy Parisian street cafe close to Place de la République. I’m here with Doppelgangster as part of a Wales Arts International funded initiative for Cape Farewell’s ArtCOP21: a global festival of cultural activity on climate change running parallel to the 21st United Nations Climate Talks (COP21). My multi-award winning Australian colleague, playwright and cultural commentator Tobias Manderson-Galvin’s voice cuts through the French chatter, as he assertively slides a copy of American writer Roy Scranton’s recently published essay Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene (2015) under my nose and suggests that one of us ought to read it.

Scranton reflects philosophically upon his nightmarish experience as a United States soldier in Iraq during the second major Gulf conflict. By drawing upon Samurai teachings and accepting that he was, in effect, already dead, Scranton explains that he was able to reconfigure his relationship to the horrors of war and operate effectively in hazardous circumstances. Upon returning to America, Scranton’s attention turned to global warming and the advent of what scholars proposed as a new epoch, the Anthropocene; a new age in which the effects of human activity are so profound that we are considered a significant geological force, nudging ourselves towards our own extinction with every purchase of multipack avocados. Drawing upon his earlier experiences, Scranton proposes that in the face of this ecological crisis, there is more dignity to be found in accepting our death and greater hope in the possibilities that that acceptance affords.

The Paris Climate Accord (December 2015) offered hope that collective action might prevent global temperature increases from rising above the agreed safe limit of two degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels. Whilst many were skeptical –  including environmentalist Naomi Klein who rebuked the deal as “woefully inadequate” due to its failure to directly reference fossil fuels – there was great enthusiasm in response to global support for it and, more specifically, the public commitment of wanton carbon emitters the United States. The mood was celebratory. However, in the two years that followed, while death quietly clipped the wings of great cultural icons (and a number of animal species), the United Kingdom shamelessly turned away from climate politics, towards the slightly less looming concern of whether to remain part of the European Union. Then came the tawdry US presidential campaign, which farcically put Trump and his band of climate denying cronies in power and actively threatened the Paris deal. By the end of 2016 that target of staying below two degrees was looking less achievable.

Dr. Tom Payne in Everybody Loses: The Death Diary of Karl Petterson Schmidt. Photo by Keith Morris.

Two years on from Paris, and on the eve of the 23rd COP in Bonn, Germany, Tobias and I wanted to create a performance that responded defiantly to these catastrophic events. We were also intrigued by Scranton’s ideas and wanted to put them to work in a theatrical context. Everybody Loses: The Death Diary of Karl Patterson Schmidt seeks to respond to current ecological and geopolitical events whilst at the same time exploring and problematizing Scranton’s notion that somewhere in the acceptance of our inevitable death lies hope. Everybody Loses is staged as an aesthetic contemplation of Schmidt’s “death diary.” At the same time, it is an oblique investigation into the greatest concern of our age, the onset of the sixth great extinction.

Everybody Loses is a one-man show in which the audience encounters Schmidt (played by myself) in his final hour. The scholarly detail with which he documents his own passing mirrors the detail with which we are currently documenting the calamitous changes in our planet, and similarly failing to act; whether through denial, cognitive dissonance, or impotence in the face of the bloody symptoms. Doppelgangster’s overtly antagonistic aesthetic seeks to stage the moment before death as a space of provocation and an opening of a political dialogue with the spectator.

Tobias and I had been toying with questions of life, death, creation and destruction, in Doppelgangster and MKA: Theatre of New Writing’s recent work Eternity of the World: Part Missing (Melbourne/Sydney July 2017). Tobias co-wrote and performed it as a two-hander with the Australian performance artist and writer Kerith Manderson-Galvin. Everybody Loses was conceived as a companion piece and we’ve labelled them Doppelgangster’s Ouroboros plays – a reference to ancient Egyptian mythology and the serpent that ate its tail; a symbol first seen in an ancient funerary text found in the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Dr. Tom Payne in Everybody Loses: The Death Diary of Karl Petterson Schmidt. Photo by Keith Morris.

In the development of both performances we worked closely with improvisational guitar and drums duo Maria Moles and Adam Halliwell (Melbourne). Their percussive and flute driven compositions have given Everybody Loses a hypnotic, sensual and at times disturbing quality, reinforced and interrupted by the sharp, dark, brooding and often brutal film footage, shot in the post-industrial wastelands outside Sheffield (UK) by British documentary filmmaker and The Guardian contributor Dr. Sam Christie (Forecast 2015). The provocative text, which is infused with Tobias’ trademark humour and lyricism, and my own emphatically British and pseudo-colonial delivery to microphone, combine with these digital elements in a relentless seventy-minute monologue-cum-autobiographical obituary. Our aim is to create an edgy and at times startling performance about the moment before death, one that draws the audience in with a heady mix of charm and humour whilst simultaneously placing real demands upon them to contemplate our individual and collective mortality.

Everybody Loses was developed with support from Sheffield Hallam University, MKA Theatre of New Writing and Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Wales, where it underwent development in the summer before premiering at the venue on 23 November 2017.

(Top image: Dr. Tom Payne in Everybody Loses: The Death Diary of Karl Petterson Schmidt. Photo by Keith Morris.)


Dr. Tom Payne is a theatre-maker and ecological raconteur. He is Co-Director of the UK/Australian performance company Doppelgangster, which he runs with award-winning Melbourne-based playwright Tobias Manderson-Galvin. He is a Lecturer in Performance Studies in the Department of Stage and Screen at Sheffield Hallam University, and Chairperson of the highly acclaimed MKA: Theatre of New Writing. His research specialisms include site-specific performance, performance and online environments, relational aesthetics, and participatory arts approaches to climate change and the eco-social.

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

Open Call: Creative Climate

Creative Climate Seeks Participants for Conversations, Papers and Performances

Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre

Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities

Birkbeck College, University of London

8 May 2018

About The Event:

This one-day symposium explores new critical-creative responses to climate change in performance, and discusses performance as a space of engagement with and communication of the larger-than-human issue of climate crisis (particularly in relation to the post-political climate). The symposium aims to generate vigorous conversation through dialogue-panels in which artists and scientists/academics pair up and have a discussion following their individual talks about their works. Hence, we call for artists, scientists and academics from all disciplines whose work explores climate change and who would be interested in participating in a dialogue-discussion.

The symposium concludes with Birkbeck’s artist-in-residence Lily Hunter Green’s Bee Composed Live exhibition and a wine reception at the Keynes Library (5.30-8pm).

Key Note Speakers:

Zoë Svendsen (Artistic Director, METIS)

Jonathan Bartley (Co-Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales)

How to Participate:

Please send your proposals for papers, performances and provocations to

  • Max. 250 words
  • Deadline: 1 March 2018.
  • Include full name of the author/s, institutional and departmental affiliation and contact details in the proposal file.

Each participant will have 10-15 minutes presentation to talk about climate change in relation to their work (or others’ work) and/or respond to a topic decided together with his/her peer, and then, the duo will have approximately 15 minutes to have a conversation between each other and with the audience.

After the receipt of the proposals we will match the artists and scientists, but please do not hesitate to let us know if you are already working on a project with an artist/scientist.

How to Attend:

There are no fees for this event but spaces are limited and can be booked here: Book Now! 

WIND, A New Font.

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

Amsterdam-based book and graphic designer Hansje van Halem just designed her first published typeface, and she named it WIND.

Those who follow this monthly column on renewable energy art know that I am a sucker for anything and everything WIND. To celebrate the end of my first year writing this monthly series for Artists and Climate Change about a wide range of renewable energy artists – including musicians, poets, architects, engineers – here is a brief introduction to Hansje van Halem and her playful capital-only multi-layered variable font, WIND. (More technical information on van Halem’s WIND font can be found here.)


According to Typotheque, which published van Halem’s new font, her work is “highly experimental” and “uses vivid colours and intricately detailed patterns to create unexpected optical illusions… its various layers can be combined and overlaid to create vibrant, hypnotic patterns.”

WIND is available in four styles, defined by the cardinal wind directions: NE, SE, SW, NW

In an email exchange, van Halem explained to me that “WIND was created while playing with shapes.”  Although she did not set out to create a new typeface inspired by one of the Netherland’s most plentiful natural resources, the name WIND became obvious when “we saw what was happening visually.”

Here is a close up of the letter “D” using NE winds:

Screen Shot 2017-12-08 at 7.45.26 PM

As an example, I have pasted below four versions of the same word, starting with NE winds, then progressively overlaying a new cardinal direction to each version:

Screen Shot 2017-12-08 at 7.45.02 PMScreen Shot 2017-12-08 at 7.44.46 PMScreen Shot 2017-12-08 at 7.44.26 PMScreen Shot 2017-12-08 at 7.43.27 PM

The combinations of style and color are endless! I encourage you to play around on the Typotheque website experimenting with this delightful font. But be forewarned: it is addictive!

“I am very curious to find out what other designers will discover with the playful functions of this layered type,” explained van Halem. “I would love to see WIND being used as animated lettering…. I can imagine that the font could be connected to real time wind-data like wind strength and wind direction and displayed as such on use for screens.”

Trieste’s Wind Museum has already tried its hand with the WIND font, posting recently on Twitter :

MuseoBora, Wind, Museum Wind Museum, Trieste, Italy, Museo, Della, Bora

The WIND font is van Halem’s second wind-related artwork. In 2014, she designed 16 perforated sliding sun screens with wind-flow patterns for a new school building in Amsterdam North in collaboration with Berger Barnett Architects. 

At the end of our email conversation, when asked what gives her hope for the future in the context of climate change, van Halem replied “As a kid I grew up with the idea mankind is ruining and eventually killing the world. After seeing the elasticity of nature in areas like Chernobyl, I believe in the power of nature and its everlasting search for regaining balance. I choose to believe that earth will survive mankind, which to me is a very soothing thought.”


Joan Sullivan is a renewable energy photographer based in Québec, Canada. Since 2009, Joan has focused her cameras (and more recently her drones) exclusively on solutions to climate change. She is convinced that the inevitable transition to a 100% clean energy economy will happen faster – and within our lifetimes – by creating positive images and stories that help us visualize and embrace what a post-carbon future will look like.  Joan collaborates frequently with filmmakers on documentary films that explore the human side of the energy transition. She is currently working on a photo book about the energy transition. Her renewable energy photos have been exhibited in group shows in Canada and the UK. You can find Joan onTwitter and Instagram.

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