climate crisis

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Art

Leafy Subjects Exemplify the Social Life of Trees of Shyama Golden’s Verdant Portraits

January 4, 2023

Kate Mothes

A painting of two figures or trees cloaked in vines.

“Intertwined” (2020), acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches. All images © Shyama Golden, shared with permission

On the banks of the Martha Brae River in Jamaica, artist Shyama Golden noticed greenery that appeared like lovers embracing. She “started to see these anthropomorphic vine-covered trees everywhere, taking on the forms of various archetypes.” The scenes inspired a series of paintings titled With or Without Us that merges facets of landscape and portrait painting into verdant works expressing nature as a social entity.

The Los Angeles-based artist’s practice is influenced by myriad sources, especially literature and everyday experiences. “Sometimes the idea can come from reading, and sometimes I take inspiration directly from life, but I often do research to add more details as I go, even if the original idea didn’t come from anything I read,” she tells Colossal. With or Without Us takes cues from Richard Powers’ 2019 novel The Overstoryan evocation of the natural world comprised of interlocking narratives in which each character is deeply connected to trees.

For this series, Golden was fascinated by the invisible means in which trees communicate with each other using a network of soil fungi, an ecological survival mechanism that is under threat from deforestation and impacts of the climate crisis. By combining recognizable portrait imagery redolent of family photographs, headshots, or the art historical vogue for reclining female figures, Golden reimagines the leafy denizens of forests as individuals with distinctive personalities and relationships.

Find more of Golden’s work on her website and Instagram.

 

A painted portrait of figures or trees cloaked in vines.

“Familiar Phantasm” (2021), oil on canvas, 60 x 60 inches

A painted portrait of figures or trees cloaked in vines.

Detail of “Familiar Phantasm”

A painted portrait of a figure or tree cloaked in vines.

“The Hero” (2021), oil on panel, 48 x 48 inches

A painted portrait of a reclining figure or tree cloaked in vines.

“The Muse” (2021), oil on canvas, 60 x 40 inches

A painted portrait of a figure or tree cloaked in vines.

“Blue” (2021), acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches

A detail of a painted portrait of figures or trees cloaked in vines.

Detail of “Intertwined”

 

 

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Art

Vibrant Coral Expresses the Power of Nature in Courtney Mattison’s Whirling Ceramic Wall Relief

December 15, 2022

Kate Mothes

A large-scale, ceramic wall sculpture of coral in a spiraling shape.

“Gyre I” (2022), glazed stoneware and porcelain, 75 x 75 x 11 inches. Photography by Daniel Jackson for Brandywine Museum of Art. All images © Courtney Mattison, shared with permission

In Courtney Mattison’s elaborate ceramic wall reliefs, the rich textures and hues of coral sweep elegantly across vast surfaces. Made of numerous individual pieces that she forms by hand, each composition references the fragility, diversity, and resilience of marine ecosystems, which she describes as an effort to “visualize climate change.” Currently on display at the Brandywine Museum of Art, “Gyre I” draws inspiration from forces of nature exemplified in the immense power of hurricanes and the delicate spirals of seashells or flower petals.

See “Gyre I” in Fragile Earth through January 8, 2023, and find more of Mattison’s work on her website and Instagram.

 

A detail of a colorful ceramic wall sculpture in many colors of coral.

A detail of a colorful ceramic wall sculpture in many colors of coral.

A detail of a colorful ceramic wall sculpture in many colors of coral.

A detail of a colorful ceramic wall sculpture in many colors of coral.

A detail of a colorful ceramic wall sculpture in many colors of coral.

A detail of a colorful ceramic wall sculpture in many colors of coral.

 

 



Photography

Vital Impacts Launches a Winter Print Sale with Photos from Jane Goodall, David Doubilet, and Beth Moon to Raise Money for Conservation

November 29, 2022

Grace Ebert

A photo of a fox

Konsta Punkka, “Intensity.” All images © the artists, courtesy of Vital Impacts, shared with permission

Within its first year, the woman-led nonprofit Vital Impacts raised $1,500,000 for conservation and humanitarian efforts through print sales from dozens of lauded photographers. The organization, which is led by Ami Vitale and Eileen Mignoni, just announced its latest initiative that features 145 stunning images and composites capturing the stunning breadth of the natural world. Included in this collection are hand-signed portraits from Jane Goodall and works from multiple artists previously featured on Colossal, including the dramatic and intimate glimpses of foxes captured by Konsta Punkka, David Doubilet’s underwater vistas, Beth Moon’s famous documentation of ancient Baobab trees, and Mitch Dobrowner’s sinister storms.

Sixty percent of the proceeds will be donated to Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots and Shoots and Vital Impacts’ own grants and initiatives. Shop the collection on the Vital Impacts site.

 

A composite photo of gorillas in the wild

Jim Naughten, “Gorillas”

A black and white photo of lions

Anup Shah, “Morani and Friend”

A photo of chimpanzees and two people

Vanne Goodall, “Jane and Hugo with the F-Family of Chimpanzees”

A photo of a baby owl

Javier Aznar, “Athene Noctua”

A photo of lighting striking above water occupied by cranes

Randy Olson, “Sandhill Crane Migration”

An underwater photo of a whale tail

Shawn Heinrichs, “Whale Tail”

A photo of a snow covered landscape

Francisco Javier Munuera Gonzalez, “Mount Adi”

 

 



Art

So Far So Good: Vivid Paintings by Murmure Take a Wry Perspective on the Climate Crisis

November 22, 2022

Kate Mothes

“Faille (Crack)” (2022), acrylic on canvas. All images © Murmure, shared with permission courtesy of Galerie LJ

Artists Paul Ressencourt and Simon Roche, a.k.a. Murmure (previously), have worked collaboratively for the past twelve years to synthesize a studio-based practice with large-scale street art. In high-contrast acrylic paintings, the duo reference the climate crisis and enduring problems of overconsumption, especially regarding the immense impact that humans have on marine life and rising sea levels. The artists’ new exhibition Jusqu’ici tout va bien, which translates to “So far so good,” approaches environmental catastrophes like thawing glaciers and overfishing from a characteristically sardonic perspective.

Ressencourt and Roche focus on the absurdity of capitalist systems in the face of destruction. Paradoxes abound as surveyors plot developments on a melting ice sheet, supine whales are served up as giant sushi rolls, and oblivious holiday-makers dive from icebergs and wade around shorelines devoid of flora and fauna. “In spite of everything, Murmure favors in their art a form of beauty which contrasts with the cruelty, the stupidity, and the urgency of the situations depicted in their works,” the exhibition statement explains.

Jusqu’ici tout va bien is on view at Galerie LJ in Paris through November 26. You can find more of Murmure’s work on their website and Instagram.

 

A painting by Murmure of a whale being served up as sushi with chopsticks.

“Whale Sushi” (2022), acrylic on canvas

A painting by Murmure of people swimming by an iceberg.

“Jusqu’ici tout va bien (Banquise)” or “So far so good (Ice)” (2022), acrylic on canvas

A painting by Murmure of people swimming by an iceberg.

“Joyau” (2022)

A painting by Murmure of people swimming by an iceberg.

Detail of “Joyau (Jewel)” (2022), acrylic on canvas

A painting by Murmure of a whale underwater that is sliced into maki rolls.

“Whale Maki” (2022), acrylic on canvas

A painting by Murmure of two surveyors plotting lines on an ice sheet.

“Marquages (Markings)” (2022), acrylic on canvas

Two details of paintings by Murmure.

Left: Detail of “Whale Sushi.” Right: Detail of “Joyau”

Detail of “Faille”

A painting by Murmure of people swimming by an iceberg.

Detail of “Joyau”

A painting by Murmure of people swimming by an iceberg.

Detail of “Jusqu’ici tout va bien (Grande Banquise)”

 

 



Art Science

Nathalie Miebach Weaves Data and Anecdotes into Expansive Sculptures to Raise Awareness of the Climate Crisis

November 11, 2022

Kate Mothes

A sculpture by Nathalie Miebach that visualizes climate and weather data.

“Harvey’s Twitter SOS” (2019), paper, wood, vinyl, and data, 84 x 108 x 12 inches. All images © Nathalie Miebach, shared with permission

For Boston-based artist Nathalie Miebach, art is a way to translate scientific data into a visual language of patterns and relationships. In 2007, when she first began to make works that explored weather and climate change, she wanted to better understand the science. “Each piece began with a specific question I had and then the sculpture would attempt to answer it. Over time, I began to be more interested not in how weather instruments record weather, but how we as a species respond to it,” she tells Colossal. “That’s when I began to look at extreme weather events such as floods, storms, and fires.”

Basketweaving plays a central role in Miebach’s practice as it both physically and metaphorically weaves together materials and information. The type of data she collects is both statistical and anecdotal, combining scientific inquiry with personal experiences. “Harvey’s Twitter SOS,” for example, translates 2017 data maps about Hurricane Harvey published by The New York Times. “The inner quilt is made up of shapes that map out income distribution in Houston and uses the city’s highway system as a visual anchor. Various types of information related to Harvey are stitched onto the quilt, including Twitter messages that were sent out during the storm,” she says. Each piece contains numerous pathways, repetitions, and connections, redolent of Rube Goldberg machines in which cause and effect play a central role.

During the past three years, the artist’s work also collates Covid-19 data alongside climate information. “Spinning Towards a New Normal,” on view currently at Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, translates Covid-19 infection, death, and vaccination rates for Germany, Italy, and Spain into the form of a spinning top with a plumb bob, representing the struggle of communities and economies to find stability. “We are not invincible, and neither is this planet,” she warns. “For the first time in human history, we have all experienced how vulnerable we can be as a species. The recent work I have been doing is trying to look at these broader environmental changes we are now seeing through this lens of vulnerability.”

You can see Miebach’s work in All Hands On: Basketry at Staatliche Museen zu Berlin through May 25, 2023, and Climate Action, Inspiring Change at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, through June 25, 2023. Explore more of her work on her website and follow updates on Instagram.

 

A sculpture by Nathalie Miebach that visualizes climate and weather data.

“Spinning Towards a New Normal” (2022), reed, wood, and data, 20 x 20 x 25 inches

A sculpture by Nathalie Miebach that visualizes climate and weather data.

Detail of “Harvey’s Twitter SOS”

Two details of a sculpture by Nathalie Miebach that visualizes climate and weather data.

Details of “Spinning Towards a New Normal”

A sculpture by Nathalie Miebach that visualizes climate and weather data.

“Changing Lines” (2022), paper, wood, and data, 120 x 96 x 10 inches

A sculpture by Nathalie Miebach that visualizes climate and weather data.

“She Cast Her Circles Wide” (2016), rope, paper, wood, and data, 25 x 25 x 27 inches

A detail of a sculpture by Nathalie Miebach that visualizes climate and weather data.

Detail of “Harvey’s Twitter SOS”

A sculpture by Nathalie Miebach that visualizes climate and weather data.

“The Blindness of Seeing Patterns” (2021), paper, wood, and weather and Covid-19 data, 84 x 60 x 6 inches

Details of a sculpture by Nathalie Miebach that visualizes climate and weather data.

Details of “The Blindness of Seeing Patterns”

 

 



Art

Diverse Ecosystems Merge in Hyperrealistic Paintings of Flora and Fauna by Lisa Ericson

November 4, 2022

Kate Mothes

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a deer standing on a reef of coral.

“High Tide” (2022), acrylic on panel. All images © Lisa Ericson, shared with permission

Ecosystems intermingle and mammals find themselves immersed in an increasingly watery world in Lisa Ericson’s hyperrealistic acrylic paintings. A hare and a mountain goat, which would typically be found in dry climates or high elevations, stand atop a small island of cacti or rock in an ongoing series of works that view the climate crisis—especially the impending rise of sea levels—through a lens of magical realism.

Drawing on the artistic legacy of chiaroscuro, or contrast between the bright figures and deep background, Ericson’s compositions appear as if a spotlight has been directed on the scene to highlight unusual interactions, such as a fox ferrying bluebirds across a waterway or a mountain goat stranded on a submerged rocky peak. Furthering the notion that environmental change cannot be ignored, the titles speak to witnessing immense change, experiencing a sense of foreboding, and heeding warnings.

You can see some of Ericson’s recent works on view at Antler Gallery in Portland, Oregon, through November 20, and find more on her website and Instagram.

 

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a fox wading through water with numerous bluebirds on its back.

“Risky Business” (2022), acrylic on panel

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a hare and a bird on top of a cactus, which surfaces from the water.

“Late Warning” (2022), acrylic on panel

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a mountain goat standing half-submerged in water on top of a rock with fish at its feet.

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (2022), acrylic on panel

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson featuring a fish with fins that look like coral and two other fish.

“Shelter in Place” (2022), acrylic on panel

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a fox with moss and fungi growing on its back.

“Wake Me When It’s Over” (2020), acrylic on panel

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a red squirrel on top of a turtle's back.

“Treading Water” (2022), acrylic on panel