This has been a hard week to make art. Printmaking isn’t a media where you can get physical with your materials, like ceramics or painting. Sometimes I wish it was. As I completed all of the mundane tasks that the studio required, I tried to identify the particular things that were nagging at me and causing stress. Honestly, I feel that the in-coming administration is going to be catastrophic for the environment. Our environment is the entire reason for my art…
I don’t want to just make pretty art
I despise the word pretty. As a woman, it feels dismissive and demeaning. Things that are pretty are not important. Just because I do not sling black paint on canvases or incorporate headless torsos into my work doesn’t mean that I create artwork to be purely decorative. The images I select to carefully carve and laboriously print are my interpretations of our most precious gift, the natural world. Trees, mountains, streams, flowers, creatures — all of these things spring up not from our human efforts, but because of this amazing ecosystem into which we were fortunate to be born.
What does art have to do with facts?
I am the wife and mother of scientists. In our household we make decisions on peer-reviewed scientific evidence whenever possible. Here are some relevant facts for this week. “97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.” Read this NASA article here. Our president-elect has stated that he believes global warming is a hoax, and has several draconian measures he states he will undertake in his first 100 days. Read Trump’s plans here. He has also stated that he will withdraw the United States from the historic Paris Climate Agreement. Read more about this here.
Dealing with an issue like global warming is difficult because it poses a collective action problem. Our actions alone make very tiny differences. We could just sit back and make other people do the changing, the sacrificing. The regulatory role of the federal government is precisely what we need to help all of us make small changes to reduce the tremendous effect of the United States on our global environment. And yet we have now elected a leader who is actively hostile to the environment, and unwilling to acknowledge the advice of the vast majority of climate scientists on this matter.
Sometimes you have to say what you mean
I am an introverted, private person. I’m a good listener, and slow to argue and be combative. You might have guessed that from my art. I post things on Facebook and Instagram, but I avoid postings on my personal social, political and religious opinions. With the massive threat that the new administration poses toward the environment, however, I can’t stay silent.
This fall in the midwest has been apocalyptically warm. In mid-November, we still have green leaves on many trees. Pair this anecdotal evidence with the fact that 2016 is going to be the hottest year on record, surpassing 2015. Yet caring about this issue can be difficult because it is abstract and can feel monumental. What can we do?
It is like weighing yourself every day
I struggle with wanting my work to contain more urgent messages about global warming. Perhaps there is room for many types of messages and message delivery. I’m making one change immediately: there will be a section in my monthly newsletter that will highlight a climate issue. My newsletter is a synopsis of the month’s blog posts, plus information about my current and upcoming events. If you would like to subscribe, click here.
Experts who help people lose weight now recommend that people weigh themselves daily to keep themselves accountable. Pay attention to the things that are important. I plan to keep global climate change issues in my focus. What will you do?