Artwork on Climate Change Increasing Worldwide

Because I ‘follow’ Artists and Climate Change, the New York-based project devoted to tracking art work all over the world in all media devoted to climate change as well as other media outlets covering climate change, I have been noticing a steadily increasing number of artists that are focusing on this important topic. Just this week, Artists and Climate Change’s Facebook page posted references to four powerful projects/artists in the Netherlands, Australia, England and the USA that are calling attention to the effects of melting glaciers, rising seas, increasing temperatures and dramatic storms.

In the Netherlands, a country in which almost one third of the land is below sea level, the water authority in the town of Westervoort commissioned designer, Daan Roosegaarde to create an installation that highlighted the dangers of coastal flooding in order to reinforce the constant threat from rising waters to a population that they perceived as being complacent. Using LED lighting that projected waves over a floodplain to simulate a virtual flood, Roosegaarde’s installation was so effective that neighboring residents who witnessed the pilot version of the project called the police to report a break in the local dike. The swirling patterns within the light experienced by the 20,000 visitors who attended the installation over five nights emphasized the extreme beauty as well as the inherent danger of water.

 Waterlicht, Don Roosegaarde's Virtual Flood Installation in Westervoort, Netherlands

Waterlicht, Don Roosegaarde’s Virtual Flood Installation in Westervoort, Netherlands

In Australia, Climarte: arts for a safer climate, a non-profit organization established to develop arts events and an alliance of artists and groups that advocate for “immediate, effective and creative action on climate change,” is sponsoring an exhibition entitled, Nature/Revelation, from April 11- May 17, 2015 at the Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne. The exhibition includes Australian and international artists, addresses the extraordinary beauty of the natural world and is a component of the Art+Climate=Change 2015 festival that will encompass additional exhibitions in galleries and museums as well as lectures and forums on climate change.

 Ansel Adams, The Tetons and the Snake River, Wyoming, 1942

Ansel Adams, The Tetons and the Snake River, Wyoming, 1942 in Nature/Revelation

In England, The Guardian, a prominent British national daily newspaper, devoted a major series of stories to aspects of climate change and used a copy of British artist, Anthony Gormley’s climate change piece, “Connection,” to accompany an extract from This Changes Everything – Capitalism vs. Climate, a recent book on climate change by Naomi Klein. The image was wrapped around the print version of the paper and also distributed at a major climate change march in London on March 7. According to the Guadian, Gormley’s work of art “shows a disturbing silhouette of a giant body against a deep glow which could be manmade or natural. Both the body and the landscape appear to be equally toxic, raising questions of how humanity is impacting the planet through climate change.”

 Anthony Gormley, "Connection," Aniline Dye on Paper, 2000

Anthony Gormley, “Connection,” Aniline Dye on Paper, 2000

And, in the United States, The Orlando Museum of Art is hosting Maya Lin: A History of Water, a major exhibition by internationally renowned American architect, designer and artist. The exhibition, on view from January 29, – May 10, 2015, includes sculptures, drawings, installations and multimedia work addressing aspects of the disappearing natural world. In reference to her work on the earth’s ecology, she says, “I believe that art, at times, can look at a subject differently and in doing so, can get people to pay closer attention.

 Installation view of the exhibition: Maya Lin: A History of Water, Orlando Museum of Art, January 31–May 10, 2015. Foreground in marble: Disappearing Bodies of Water: Aral Sea, 2013. Background: Water Line, 2006, © Maya Lin Studio, courtesy Pace Gallery.

Installation view of the exhibition: Maya Lin: A History of Water, Orlando Museum of Art, January 31–May 10, 2015. Foreground in marble: Disappearing Bodies of Water: Aral Sea, 2013. Background: Water Line, 2006, © Maya Lin Studio, courtesy Pace Gallery.

Climarte‘s call to action on the topic of climate change effectively summarizes the artist’s inherent role in society at large as a catalyst for change:

“Throughout history the arts have played a major role in recording and reflecting the state of human society and its relationship with the natural world. Indeed, for some historical periods it is only through the arts that we have been able to learn about our past. But sometimes we have also needed the arts to be a catalyst for change, a call to action, a pricking of humanity’s collective conscience. We believe that now is one of those times.”


The Blog: One and a Half Years Later and
Artist Isaac Cordal’s “Cement Eclipses”

The Blog, One and a Half Years Later

When I started this blog entitled, “On Water and Public Art” in February of 2013, my intention was to provide a running conversation on: (1) the progress of The Wave, our interactive, public art project on water; (2) information on current global water issues; and (3) commentary about other public art projects that address timely contemporary subjects.

Over the past three years, as The Wave has traveled to four states, Elena and I have engaged over 6000 participants in the creation of 16 permanent and temporary installations in museums, galleries, schools, libraries and other public venues. In addition to following our travels with The Wave, the blog has addressed such varied topics as ‘public art as community building,” “public art as political awareness,” “science fiction and water,” “water wars,” “visual symbols of water,” and “the color of water in nature and art.” The Blog has also highlighted important public art projects including, Lily Yeh’s transformational interactive mosaics, James Bridle’s troubling Drone Shadows, Simon Beck’s monumental Snow Art, Andres Amador’s impermanent Sand Art and the 36 artists whose work on the enormous amount of debris in the ocean became the important, traveling exhibition, Gyre: The Plastic Ocean. Today’s post introduces another innovative public artist and his on-going urban street project entitled, Cement Eclipses.

 Bayeaux Tapestry: Norman Fleet Sailing For England 1070 - 1088 Showing Traditional Symbols of Water

Bayeaux Tapestry: Norman Fleet Sailing For England 1070 – 1088, Showing How Artists in the 11th Century Represented Water

Isaac Cordal’s ‘Take’ on Political Leadership and Climate Change

Isaac Cordal is a Spanish installation and street artist who is currently living and working in London. Cordal creates tiny cement figures (8-10 inches tall) cast from clay sculptures that he calls ‘Cement Eclipses.’ He places them in urban settings throughout Europe in order to shed light on current political and social issues. In his series, “Follow the Leaders,” Cordal has arranged the tiny heads and partial torsos of the balding, white collar businessmen in shallow ‘puddles’ of water as if they are almost completely submerged by rising flood waters. Cordal’s work suggests that while leaders around the world endlessly debate how to address the predictions that sea levels will rise up to three feet by the end of the century, permanent damage from climate change is already taking place around the world. Left to their own devices, this is how these ‘leaders’ will soon look if they don’t act decisively. His installations are examples of highly effective public art as political awareness.

 Isaac Cordal, "Follow The Leaders," London, 2011.

Isaac Cordal, “Follow The Leaders,” London, 2011.

 Isaac Cordal, "Follow The Leaders," Berlin, 2014

Isaac Cordal, “Follow The Leaders,” Berlin, 2014