These Are the Faces of Art Activism Today

These Are the Faces of Art Activism Today

DEPARTURES - September 19, 2017

Introducing America’s most urgent creative movement—and the people behind it. A painting can change the way you see the world. But the 15 men and women shown here are betting that art can change the world itself.

For 20 years, Justin Brice Guariglia crisscrossed the globe as a documentarian and photojournalist for publications like Smithsonian and the New York Times. His sensibility as an artist draws on the planetary perspective he gained in those two decades. “My work is about trying to understand the interconnectedness of time, space, and objects,” he says, giving a tour of his Brooklyn studio, which is populated with dinosaurs, dolls, skulls, and meteorites.

Last spring, he created an app called After Ice, which allows people to take a picture anywhere in the world and see what the future water level will be in that very spot according to NASA’s projections of rising seas. Through January 7, Guariglia’s solo show “Earth Works: Mapping the Anthropocene” can be seen at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, before it travels next fall to the Fisher Museum of Art at the University of Southern California. “I focused on the Anthropocene before I even knew the word,” he says with a laugh, musing on the scientific term for the current era, in which humans have had an impact on the earth’s surface and atmosphere.

Many of the show’s 22 multimedia works include images from the seven flights he flew with a NASA mission over Greenland to study melting glaciers, and from his photos revealing the scars left by agriculture and mining in Asia. “I hope to make felt on a visceral level the phenomena that operate on these temporal and spatial scales, which can seem so distant from us humans.” 

—Laura van Straaten

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