Yearly Archives: 2019


Lead Editor’s note: We will be publishing excerpts from Q18: dis/sustain/ability, guest edited by Bronwyn Preece, in order to make the content accessible to blind readers with audio screen readers. We’ll also be including audio descriptions of the Quarterly’s original layout designed by Stephanie Plenner, described by Katie Murphy. Please stay tuned for future posts and share widely.

In this our fifth chapter, Neil Marcus shares thoughts on disability, theater, hope and embedment.

Audio Description of photos in “Creativity, Sustainability, Disabiliti”


Neil Marcus

“You don’t have to quote me unless I say something relevant. I am just myself.”

–Manfred Warmuth

portland may08 112

Photograph from a talk on “Disability Culture” by Petra Kuppers: “The Olimpias” Art Collective at Portland Art Festival, May 2008



my thoughts on theater and disability
its about making sense of chaos.
its about making the spirit visible.
its about discovering all the connections and linkages that make us
human together and describing them.
disability as having a meaning in disability, has no meaning. 

“it doesn’t rain disability.” 


…in a Godzilla world in the location of Manhattan…Godzilla roams the city streets with huge car sized footsteps.  Car alarms go off constantly. Godzilla is upset by the ruckus.

wheeee yuhhh wheeee beeep beep!! A big nuisance.  irritant…bother.

in a Godzilla world, everything topples around her.  towers, freeways, stores, trees. and Godzilla spits fire.  ssss…


Hello dear friend of the petrified wasp-in-pine sap:
I heard of your search for documents or documentability.
I search for the same. Striving for clarity and new forms of expressions in my own ‘disability’ [bad word] related prose poetry/theater of life.
Personally, I like the words hypertext, subtext, metaphor link and offshoot:
where words and ideas constantly embark on spin off words and ideas and
movement shakes and dances out of every crevice of thought.

I often work off graphic images. A sign reading ACCESS TO PLANETARIUM
with appropriate stick wheelchair figure mid sentence prompts my bodythinking.

Hence pictures take us to words, ideas to explore.

crip planetarium

“Department of English, University of Michigan” Photo by Neil Marcus


Email exchange:
Neil Marcus66<!– (10:46:23 AM)–>: doing art……living artistically I think helps me …………………it gives me good direction
Neil Marcus66<!– (10:48:29 AM)–>: I as always fascinated by movies about prisons. how people cope?
Ester — (10:49:04 AM)–>: With?
Neil Marcus66<!– (10:51:01 AM)–>: difficult situations.. another favorite topic…………..marooned…………..
Ester– (10:52:36 AM)–>: Themes of isolation? Separateness?
Neil Marcus66<!– (10:54:22 AM)–>: yes definitely and discovering tremendous resources………….

Picture = 1000 words
Idea = staff of life
Poem = 1000 ideas

Art on the walls.  Art in the trees. Art in the gaze.  Art in the clay.

Art in the flesh.  Art in the move. Art in the stroke.

I am doing my criptography (the painting of brush stroke simple figures that in my mind are all representations of disabled people moving) the view of the view of the view of the view of the view:


to insinuate oneself onto
to insert ones self
into public discourse/sphere
appropriate popular culture
with culinary delights
sandwiches made with garden fresh tomatoes peanut butter
and homemade jam
To be spastic
to be proud
To boldly go where  …
you want to  go in this intrepid universe
with great enterprise


I found this road sign on the campus of the National University of Australia outside of the Chefly Library. It was lovely to run into.  As far as I know, it is a one-of-a-kind artwork and/or perhaps a ‘public work of art,’ as Australia is famous for government-funded art in public spaces. 

I have never seen the universal access sign in this format.

 I imagine someone had walked by it one day and saw the need to humanize it a little.  This was truly a revolutionary act to me. With a flower, no less. 

ausie crip

Thoughts about the importance of road signs and getting the message right. 

Art Full. 

The flower presented here really undermines the static purely ‘functional’ representation of disability. 

 “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. Time to die.” 

–Replicant Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) in Blade Runner


We don’t always remember how glorious it is to be human…what we live

through and how we come out. It is hard to speak of such experiences

but we all do have them.

I quote Blade Runner above because I think the android’s view of life

is well articulated. I look to the outsider for commentaries on the

human life. Aliens androids prisoners: the disenfranchised.

Humans often can feel our own lives and struggles outside our numbness

if given a bit of distance/perspective. All of us have exceptional

things to express.  Moments that have touched us deeply. I see access

to these memories as being our only limit. 

Do we believe we are artists and philosophers? 

Do our lives have meaning?

Do we have something to say?



‘Meteoric’ Neil Marcus, Sketch from Superfest Film Festival SPSU, 2016 


After the evening show, we have the Q and A with the audience and in front of 200 people, a woman asks me: “What kind of woman do you like, I mean you say you are a lover and all. I was just wondering?”   I fumble A LOT and say “friendly ones” then “next question please.” Matt makes a joke saying, “what’s your phone number?” He continues, “You have such perfect timing Neil and such control. Is there anything you can tell others to help them?”  I answer, “Well…to appreciate ones body no matter what it does or doesn’t do, helps.” 

During the night and the next day, I think about that first question. I think about who I am, the position I’m in and what I’m doing.  Part of it is FEEDBACK. It’s sustenance. I’ve created a situation. Me performing audience. Inspired dialogue. It’s a situation where no matter what I think, act or do, I cannot fail. It’s failsafe. Because I’m always out there doing my best. WOW. And I usually always get applause. What does this tell me?  I’m telling you this because I think it is to be a model of physical therapy. Emotional therapy. Self help.

foot 2

A dancer’s foot. My foot.

In an oral history interview of artists with disabilities, using the technology of ‘instant messaging’ I was able to articulate:


                                                        “Medusa” by Neil Marcus. Touch pad art. 2012

Neil Marcus66<!– (11:00:58 AM)–>: I’m a human bridge in a moment of time spanning as far and as relevant as my thoughts will carry me
Esther – (11:04:58 AM)–>: I’m a human bridge in a moment of time, spanning as far and as relevant as my thoughts will carry me.


“disability/ disabled”: an un quantifiable concept, immeasurable, non-poetic, medicalized word that represents no thing or no body EXCEPT as a idea in need of revolution.

The concept of “Disability” is non sustainable.

love joy art …sustainable self renewing   

I listen to the waves at the seashore and watch them roll in. in and out. They never stop.
My mind wanders. I think of love. I smell the sea life air. I think of grains of sand slipping through my wet toes. I think of starry nights and streaming comets and glowing rounded moons. I think of thousands of fishes that will run with the tides at a certain season and time each year.
There are moments in my life when everything is so completely and totally understandable, all I can do is gasp in wonder and cry a special brand of joyous tear and try to tell someone all about it.
There is a postcard that I TREASURE. I found it in a postcard store in 1984. It totally says a lot of what I want to say. Maybe it says everything! !
the card stock is braille with braille dots as the postcard “scene” thats raised little “bumps”on a white background. The effect is that you are sending this postcard to someone and its so complete that at first glance…it seems like nothing is there. To a sighted person, the card seems blank. It’s all white.
Turn it over. In very small print it says ,
”I often imagine myself being here. Sitting on the beach, listening to the waves, feeling the salty air upon my face and tongue. Everything seems possible. i wish you were here”
so.. it’s not blank. The front is the poem translated into braille. Touch. speaks a language that is very real but is little known.  What could be more communicative than a fingers touch.
And the artistic statement is so strong. my words don’t do it justice.


Neil Marcus is a Spastic artist and performer living in Berkeley, California, USA. His books include Special Effects: Advances in Neurology (2011), and Cripple Poetics: A Love Story (2010), and The Princess and the Dragon  (a disabled fable) (unpublished). His most performed play is Storm Reading (1988).

Major Influences:

100 million miracles [flower drum song] Dir. Gene Kelley

easy rider

the mothers of invention

re evaluation counseling

love revolution

Cyrano de Bergerac

performance art





human liberation


body as art

disable/d liberation


idea … weaving

At age 13 I began learning co-counseling. Theories of liberation and oppression. This enriched my thinking. My world. I could live. I could give. I could love. I had a brush with which to touch-up the world.  Ideas popping. I was radicalized. I had a vibrant self. I had expression. I had raves. 


Filming: “disability/disabled country”

Smithsonian video by Neil Marcus/filmed and edited by Jai Jai Noire,

National Museum of American History, 1987/2014

Photo by Gary Ivanek

OPEN CALL COAL PRIZE 2020 – VIVANT (Biodiversity)

In 2020, the COAL Prize is devoted to the erosion of biodiversity. This eleventh edition is part of the program VIVANT, a cultural Season for Biodiversity carried by COAL and its partners in preparation for the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2020 (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) to be held in Marseille from the 11th to the 19th of June, and in anticipation of the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (China, October 2020). 

The sixth mass extinction that threatens the diversity of life affects both species and ecosystems. In France, at present, 18% of species, or nearly one in five species, are already considered extinct or threatened. The last similar crisis dates to 65 million years ago and sealed the fate of the dinosaurs. Unlike the previous five, this sixth extinction of the living is due to the impact of human activity. Five major causes have been identified: the changed use of natural areas, overexploitation of species, pollution, climate change and invasive alien species. A response from governments, the private sector, representatives of civil society and citizens is urgently needed to cease the decline of life’s diversity. 

Stop the global crisis of plastic pollution, reduce the impact of human activities at sea and on land, adapt to climate change, fight against deforestation, protect rivers, marshes, grasslands and coastal mangroves, strenghten the protection measures for great apes, marine mammals and counter the organized trafficking of wild species. The heterogeneity and interweaving of biodiversity protection issues requires a wide range of actions – regulation, prevention, adaptation and implementation of nature-based solutions. Transformative changes in our societies are needed to restore and preserve nature.

By facing a situation as complex as it is urgent, the 2020 COAL Prize invites artists from all over the world to rally in order to report on a world that is still alive, to feel and experience biodiversity, but mostly to act and get involved with nature protection actors. 

Presented and awarded at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2020 in Marseille in June 2020, the COAL Prize will contribute to the decisive step towards accelerating French and international public policies and raising citizens’ awareness of the need to preserve the environment and its biodiversity. 

The COAL Prize is supported by the Ministry of Ecology, the Ministry of Culture, the European Union through the ACT network, the French Agency for Biodiversity, the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature and the François Sommer Foundation and is in partnership with the IUCN French Committee, the Natural Reserves of France, the Federation of Regional Natural Parks of France, the WWF, the French Southern Region, the city of Marseille and the Parc national des Calanques and all the partners of VIVANT.


Address any questions to : CONTACT@PROJETCOAL.FR

Read a short play for Climate Change Theatre Action

We are looking for any fun person who would be willing to read a short play (5 min) to themselves, a friend, a house plant, a pet (interspecies performance, yay!) to represent your state as part of Climate Change Theatre Action. If you are in any of the following states before December 21st, we’re looking for you!

  • Alabama
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Nevada
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

More info:

If you’re interested or have any questions email

ARTPORT_making waves newsletter

(December Edition)
A newsletter of the stories you might have missed including upcoming events
by ARTPORT_making waves. Edited by Anne-Marie Melster.

State Studio Berlin, 14 December  2019, 3 – 8 pm 

Address: Hauptstr. 3, 10827 Berlin

Description (State Studio, Berlin,14 December 2019)
For the fourth and final event of the Berlin part of WE ARE OCEAN at State Studio Berlin, an independent project space for art and science, we are presenting for the first time in full length the film “WE ARE OCEAN – A film made in collaboration with secondary school students in Berlin and in Brandenburg” by Berlin-based artist Lisa Rave, which was created during a series of WE ARE OCEAN workshops with students this summer. In the afternoon we will conduct a final student workshop, which will formulate future scenarios for the climate protection of the oceans (please register for workshop participation at The students will present their findings following the film presentation in three short interviews with one member of the WE ARE OCEAN team, one of the participating educators and the audience, and formulate further questions for the project to continue in other cities. Afterwards, the bar of the State Studio invites for a more informal exchange. Throughout the duration of the event, the basement features the approximately one-hour program of artistic short films on the theme of the sea and ecology, poetry and politics that has been put together specifically for WE ARE OCEAN (presented in a loop).

3 – 6 pm
A workshop for registered school students (workshop room).

3 – 8 pm
A screening of WE ARE OCEAN curated film program with artistic short videos by Ursula Biemann (CH), Forensic Oceanography (GB), Tue Greenfort (DK), Michelle-Marie Letelier (CHI), Parvathi Nayar (IN), Ana Vaz (BR), Susanne M. Winterling (D), Marina Zurkow (US) (in the basement)

6 – 6:30 pm
Lisa Rave: “WE ARE OCEAN – A film made in collaboration with secondary school students in Berlin and in Brandenburg” (first floor)

6:30 – 7:30 pm
Dialogue situations with selected participants (first floor): Christian Rauch (STATE Studio), Julia Moritz, Lisa Rave, Anne-Marie Melster, Students and teachers of: Schule am Berlinickeplatz, Barbara-Zürner-Oberschule Velten, Montessori Gesamtschule Bernau

7:30 pm onward
Open bar

Virtual Blue COP 25

“Can the arts mobilize youth
for the preservation of the Ocean?”




Description (Webinar)
We decided to contribute something CO2-emissions-reduced to this year’s Climate Conference COP25 in Madrid: Virtual Blue COP25 invited us to hold a webinar on WE ARE OCEAN.

The webinar WE ARE OCEAN on 07 December 2019 has the transdisciplinary project WE ARE OCEAN by ARTPORT_making waves as a point of departure and will illustrate and discuss the role of art, education in combination with science in the implementation of environmental awareness in the broader public. The activity will have two different components: The screening of an excerpt of the artistic video by Lisa Rave created as part of her commissioned WE ARE OCEAN workshops in and around Berlin and a panel discussion with Anne-Marie Melster (ARTPORT_making waves, moderator), Julia Moritz (Co-curator of WE ARE OCEAN), Nick Nuttall (Earth Day Network), Nancy Couling (BAS Bergen School of Architecture).

Portrait of Nick Nuttall

ARTPORT_making waves is proud to announce that Nick Nuttall is joining our Advisory Board. Nick is the Strategic Communications Director for Earth Day 2020 and Former Director of Communications and Spokesperson for UN climate change and UN Environment.

Nick Nuttall has over 40 years’ experience in communicating climate and environmental issues. He was the Director of Communications and the Spokesperson for the 2015 Paris Agreement and spearheaded the communications and outreach for the UN Environment from 2001 to 2013.
Before that Nick was an award-winning journalist with The Times newspaper in London. Throughout his career, and in his personal life, art and culture have been significant companions. In the United Nations, he led several communications initiatives in which artists were engaged including a Song for Paris involving young musicians.

Nick has supported the Save the World Festival which brings together international artists from many disciplines with scientists and experts on sustainable development and recently was an advisor to the play Tornado.
As Director of Communications of the Global Climate Action Summit in California in 2018, Nick promoted artistic and cultural engagement. Earth Day, which in 2020 marks its 50th anniversary, is actively engaging artists under its Artists for the Earth initiative.

In his private life, Nick has performed with the Bonn Players and Bonn University Shakespeare Company is lead singer and guitarist with the band Sleepers Den while being a backing singer for the German artist Bernadette La Hengst. His other passions are tennis and his childhood English football team, Burnley.

ARTPORT_making waves Staff Picks

The ARTPORT_making waves Staff Pick is exactly what the name implies, a selection of recent articles, videos and content that have been curated by the staff at ARTPORT_making waves. Explore, Learn and Discover the world of climate change mitigation and climate action.

Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against

An aeroplane flies over a glacier in the Wrangell St Elias National Park in Alaska.
Credit: Frans Lanting/Nat Geo Image Collection

Carbon markets shape agenda at UN climate summit

Protestors gather in London, UK, to call for climate action ahead of COP25 as part of the Global Climate Strike movement.Credit: Mike Kemp/In Pictures/Getty

Our Partners and Funders

(Top image: State Studio Berlin, Foto: Anne Freitag)

Opportunity: UK theatres grants scheme open for applications

Theatres, apply now to Theatres Trust UK Theatres Small Grants Scheme for urgent building work.

Applications for the next round of the UK Theatres Small Grants Scheme are being accepted.

It is a capital fund set up by the Theatres Trust to award up to £5,000 to theatres across the UK run by charities and not-for-profit groups.

Priorities include projects that address urgent building repairs, improve operational viability, introduce environmental improvements, and enhance physical accessibility. Please note that applications for technical equipment and refurbishment of soft furnishings are a low priority for the scheme.

Deadline for applications is Monday 3 February 2020 at noon.

The post Opportunity: UK theatres grants scheme open for applications appeared first on 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

Powered by WPeMatico

Opportunity: Stalled Spaces – Call for Projects

Stalled Spaces – a community fit for a wee bit.

Local groups and organisations across Glasgow are invited to submit proposals for temporary activation of any stalled or underused open spaces in the city. We are looking for projects that are innovative and socially engaged that can breathe life into stalled spaces and create a positive impact on the area.

Funding is available from a minimum of £1000 to a maximum of £4500.

The closing date for applications is Friday 17th January at 5pm.

For more information, please visit the Stalled Spaces website.

The post Opportunity: Stalled Spaces – Call for Projects appeared first on 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

Powered by WPeMatico

Climate Strikes Continue – Get Creative on Dec. 6!

Youth across the country and the world are once again striking for Climate Justice. Some folks already went on strike last Friday; many more are preparing to strike this Friday, December 6th. No matter how old or young you are, we invite you to join!  

Find a local strike to join, or host your own!

After the global record-breaking September 20th strikes, we know that the upcoming strikes will be smaller. As communities build and shore up for the long haul, the strikes are deepening too. Town by town, coalitions are organizing, deepening youth leadership, crafting bigger visions and clearer demands of politicians, and taking bolder risks. If you haven’t joined the climate strikes yet, now’s the perfect time to show up with your loudest cheer and friendliest smile, to make your own sign or to just show up and be present with the youth.

Why does the USDAC go on strike? Because the climate crisis is a crisis for our culture—it’s a crisis for our values, for our communities and the people we love. It’s also an opportunity to bring our creative gifts into the streets. As artists and cultural leaders, we invite you to join us in taking a stand: send information to your friends and neighbors, bring creative action to the fight for climate justice in to your work and your life. Walk out of your offices, buy nothing, create something, stay home from school, attend a rally, start a conversation.

And if this week doesn’t work, set your eyes towards the spring, as the next global climate strike will be on Earth Day: April 22, 2020! With the months ahead to plan, we ask: who could you be standing with at the April Earth Day strike if you start preparing now? If you are a teacher or a convener of any sort, can you integrate preparations for the strike in to your curriculum or organizing plan? What visions of creative participation might we spend our winter hatching together?

Here are some other concrete ways you can show up for the climate strikes:

And don’t forget to register to strike on Dec 6th!

Yours in Creativity and Justice,

Rachel Schragis, Minister of the Bureau of EPA (Energy, Power and Art)

PS: Have you checked out our job description for a new Co-Director yet? Help us find an awesome new team member!!

Pollution Pods at COP25 and Cape Farewell Winter News

Pollution Pods at COP25, Madrid
2-13 December, 2019

Visitors to be immersed in choking smog as part of a drive to urge world leaders to take action on air pollution

One or two minutes inside artist Michael Pinsky’s Pollution Pods and visitors might begin experiencing shortness of breath, but there’s nothing dangerous in the air in the pods. Safe perfume blends and fog machines imitate the air quality of some of the world’s most polluted cities – London, Beijing, São Paulo, New Delhi – as well as one of the most pristine environments on earth, Tautra in Norway.

As part of World Health Organisation’s BreatheLife Campaign, which mobilizes governments and communities to reduce the impact of air pollution on our health and climate, this viscerally powerful art installation will be installed at the COP25 climate summit. Negotiators, observers and world leaders attending the summit will be encouraged to walk through the pods, which are being brought to Madrid by Cape Farewell, WHO, Clean Air Fund and Ministry of Ecological Transition, Spain.

The true cost of climate change is felt in our hospitals and in our lungs. The health burden of polluting energy sources is now so high, that moving to cleaner and more sustainable choices for energy supply, transport and food systems effectively pays for itself,” said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “When health is taken into account, climate change mitigation is an opportunity, not a cost”.

Find out more ›

“Kõmij Mour Ijin/
Our Life Is Here”

An Arts/Science Expedition in the Marshall Islands August 2020

In February we will announce full details of this latest Cape Farewell expedition. 

Books: the Ideal Solstice present

Burning Ice – recently re-printed, Cape Farewell’s defining publication on ‘Climate is Culture’. 
Buy here >

Exchange – Kay Syrad and Chris Drury were commissioned by Cape Farewell to work with organic farmers in Dorset. A two year FarmArt engagement produced this magical book.
Buy here >

(Top image: Greta Thunberg with artist Michael Pinsky inside the Pollution Pods at the UN Climate Summit, September 2019 © David Buckland / Cape Farewell)

Visiting Artist Residency at Trestle

Application Deadline: December 10, 2019 (11:59PM)
Residency Dates: January 1 – June 30, 2020

All artists will be notified by email within 2 weeks post the application deadline.

The Visiting Artist Residency (VAR) at Trestle Gallery allows artists to explore and deepen their practice while sharing their artistic experience and creative process with the public and the Trestle Art Space community. Our mission is to cultivate a supportive and diverse arts community and we seek artists with an interest in education and activism as part of their practice.

Twice a year, two artists are offered a private studio membership in exchange for enriching Trestle’s public and studio programming. This residency is ideal for established artists with a serious practice and dedication to community engagement. The residency includes 24/7 access to our facilities, participation in Gowanus Open Studios & South Brooklyn Open Studios, and representation on our member registry. The 6-month residency culminates in a group exhibition at Trestle Gallery in December 2020 showcasing all four 2020 VARs.

Responsibilities of Visiting Artist Residents at Trestle:

Leading Monthly Critiques – These two hour meetings are free and open to the public. They encourage a dialogue between artists of different media to share and talk about their work, all the while expanding their practice. We seek to provide members of the local community with support and professional development that they might not otherwise have access to.

Holding Scheduled Studio Hours – Trestle’s VAR will designate one 3 hour block of time each month to meet with members of Trestle Art Space. These meetings offer support to artists by allowing them to show their work, review artist statements, and seek professional advice. Providing letters of reference/recommendation is not expected.

Engaging with the Trestle and South Brooklyn Community – More generally, VARs will facilitate and promote the sharing of ideas and enhance our dynamic culture. We encourage VAR artists to get involved with the community at Trestle and the local South Brooklyn community by inviting guest speakers, attending Trestle Gallery exhibition opening/closing receptions and participating in open studio events.

*Please note: we do not provide housing*

For more info and to apply

Energy Transition Coloring Book

By Joan Sullivan

Over the five years that I’ve blogged for Artists and Climate Change, I have never pitched a product. Until today. It feels a bit sacrilegious to do so, especially in the context of next week’s ritualized over-consumption frenzy, but hear me out. This is important.

With this post, I’m temporarily stepping outside my comfort zone – where I shine a light on global artists, designers, and architects experimenting with renewable energy as an emerging art form – to boldly suggest that our readers consider purchasing (several copies of) the Infographic Energy Transition Coloring Book as #climate-themed holiday gifts this year.

This award-winning coloring book (an updated version is currently being printed in Germany and will be ready for distribution in early December) is a visually stunning communication tool that I believe can help shift the needle on our mostly dystopic climate narrative. It is designed to engage all generations: young, old, and anyone in-between.

What I like most about this coloring book is its appeal to broad sections of the population, including those not yet convinced of the need to shift to sustainable energy sources, those for whom the jargon-heavy scientific climate reports are difficult to decipher, and even those already working on climate change and the energy transition.

Created by two Berlin-based organizations – Ellery Studio in collaboration with the Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility (IKEM) – the Infographic Energy Transition Coloring Book hits the sweet spot for me on so many levels.

First, not only is it scientifically accurate and visually stunning, this book manages like no other to take a complex, geeky subject like the energy transition (which I have tried to write about here, here, and here from an artistic perspective) and makes it highly accessible to the general public.

As Bernd Riedel, head of Ellery Studio’s visual strategy lab explained to FastCompany, “The energy transition will only succeed if people are aware of and enthusiastic about the possibilities of a decentralized, renewable energy supply.”

Secondly, this coloring book draws you in, no matter your point-of-view on the climate crisis. Once you pick up a pencil or crayon to start coloring, it is impossible not to feel engaged, to feel empowered, to feel part of a larger whole. That alone is reason enough to purchase this book.

As Anika Nicolaas Ponder, Head of Sustainability & Innovation at IKEM, wrote on Medium:

Fostering public engagement in climate change activism will require a new approach to communication. Reporting shouldn’t just highlight the risks and challenges involved as global temperatures rise, but also the opportunities that can emerge from smart responses to climate change. This means that we need to communicate our message in a new format – and with a new narrative.

Thirdly, this coloring book focuses on the positive, on solutions, on the way forward. All music to my ears. According to Ms Ponder:

These are the tales that need telling, and these are the narratives we need to hear. We will be more effective messengers if we reframe the way we talk about climate change and the energy transition. We can do this by focusing on opportunity and empowerment and drawing more people into the conversation through accessible communication formats.

I can’t think of a better playful gift with the potential to open the conversation between friends and family who may not always have seen eye-to-eye on the climate or the energy transition. For more information about the Infographic Energy Transition Coloring Book, follow “My Energy Transition” on Instagram.

I’ll end here with my favorite illustration in the book. It would have to be the clever “Meet The Renewables” (which somehow reminds me of The Incredibles). This “family portrait” includes five of the most popular members of the renewable energy family: onshore and offshore wind, hydropower, biomass and solar. They are displayed on a modern electronic tablet which contrasts starkly with four cracked and cob-webbed frames in the background of the fossil fuel family (which reminds me of the original Addams Family!) Kudos to all who worked on this brilliant project!

(All images copyright and courtesy of Ellery Study, Berlin.)

This article is part of the Renewable Energy series.


Joan Sullivan is a Canadian renewable energy photographer. Since 2009, Joan has found her artistic voice on the construction sites of utility-scale wind and solar projects. Her goal is to keep our eyes on the prize – a 100% clean energy economy in our lifetimes. Joan is currently working on a documentary film and book project about Canada’s energy transition. Her renewable energy photographs have been exhibited in group and solo shows in Canada, the UK and Italy. You can find Joan on Twitter, Visura and Ello.


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

Powered by WPeMatico