Artists on climate change: the exhibition tackling a global crisis

Artists on climate change: the exhibition tackling a global crisis

Nadja Sayej for The Guardian - 30 May 2018

At the Storm King Art Center in New York, a group of artists has come together to showcase works that cover a growing, and often ignored, issue

The week before the Storm King Art Center opened its public art exhibition on the 500-acre premises in Mountainville, New York, there was a tornado. It was fitting considering the topic of the exhibition, Indicators: Artists on Climate Change, which features over a dozen artists who tap into climate change “and hopefully, take action to help curb its advances”, explains the curator, Nora Lawrence. While Storm King started out as an environmental initiative in 1960, this exhibition feels as timely as ever considering the state of the world: temperatures rising, arctic ice melting and polluted air affecting millions around the globe. “I think it’s always urgent, but we have been seeing the effects of climate change on our own site for years,” says Lawrence. “We’ve also seen how artists have been dealing with these issues, so it was something we thought made sense for us to address.”

Instead of deploying terrifying statistics, protest placards and scientific arguments, this exhibition takes a different approach to activism. “What I’ve seen is that artists are able to touch people in ways that not everyone can,” says Lawrence. “Artists can zero in on a topic that asks people to consider their surroundings anew.”

One highlight is the work of the New York artist Justin Brice Guariglia, who shows a solar-powered LED highway message sign that reads “We Are the Asteroid”. It’s a phrase from eco-philosopher Timothy Morton, who calls out the human effect on the planet. “It’s to bring attention to the issue from another angle, to look at what humans are doing to provoke climate change,” says Lawrence. “When we think of asteroids, we think of something that will doom the earth, but in this case, it’s actually coming from our own human activity.”

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