Huna, Sean “Hula” Yoro
Working across the world in some of the most extreme environments, Sean “Hula” Yoro and his twin Kapu have painted beautifully intricate murals which stress the dangers of rising sea levels and climate change. Their work embraces the transience of art as most are washed or eroded away after a mere few weeks.
For one particular artwork, they traveled to a glacier to paint a woman’s face mostly submerged in the water already. The artwork, which they call A’o Ana, hopes to bring attention to the rapid deterioration of the Arctic and glaciers due to global warming. “In the short time I was there, I witnessed the extreme melting rate first hand as the sound of ice cracking was a constant background noise while painting,” Hula said in an artistic statement, “Within a few weeks these murals will be forever gone, but for those who find them, I hope they ignite a sense of urgency, as they represent the millions of people in need of our help who are already being affected from the rising sea levels of climate change.”
Birds Watching, Jenny Kendler
Currently located in Chicago on The 606 Bloomingdale Trail between St. Louis Ave. and Kimball Ave., Birds Watching is a 40-foot long sculpture of one hundred bird eyes, notably from birds on the IUCN’s endangered species list. When light is shone on the sculpture, the reflective, accusatory eyes glare back in a wide range of glowing colors. The piece reminds us of the responsibility we have to protect other species and reverses the status quo of the watcher-birder relationship—instead, the birds are watching what the humans will do.
According to her artistic statement, “within the gaze of these many others, the work asks us to consider our own responsibility for climate change’s myriad effects on other beings. Have we allowed birds and other nonhumans — with their unique and wondrous lifeways — to become the sacrifice zones of extraction capitalism?”
Underwater HOA, Xavier Cortada
In a participatory and collaborative with the Village of Pinecrest near Miami, Xavier Cortada invited residents to pick up a marker ranging from 0 to 17, representing how many feet the sea would have to rise to submerge their house. Using Citizen Eyes, residents could find exactly how sea level rise would affect their house. Together, the project culminated in Underwater HOA which hoped to use the general public’s participation to represent how widespread and impactful climate change would be. If the Arctic’s ice melts completely, many of the world’s coastal cities from Miami to Hong Kong will be almost completely submerged.
“Climate change will affect the future of Pinecrest and all of South Florida,” Pinecrest Mayor Joseph M. Corradino said in an interview with Forbes. “Through Xavier’s extraordinary vision, he will use art to bring the community together in an impactful way.”
Malum Geminos and Afterglow (Our Changing Seas VI), Courtney Mattison
From June 1 to September 8, Sculptor and ocean advocate Courtney Mattison is displaying Malum Geminos (left) and Afterglow (Our Changing Seas VI) (right) for the “Fragile Earth” exhibition at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, CT. Afterglow, specifically, belongs to a series of ceramic sculptures called Our Changing Seas which aims to display how climate change and ocean acidification are affecting coral reefs. Her monumental, intricately detailed ceramic wall relief replicates the beauty of coral reefs and inform viewers of their threatened state with the gradual bleaching. Not only is the piece artistically engaging but also scientifically accurate as the corals depicted are realistic.
For the other piece, according to her artistic statement, “Malum Geminos, meaning “evil twins” in Latin, pays homage to a statement by the Honorable Jane Lubchenco, PhD at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen referring to ocean acidification as the “equally evil twin” of climate change caused by carbon dioxide emissions dissolving into the sea.” The structure of the mural is inspired by fractals, a natural mathematical phenomenon which has a unique evolving symmetry. The sculpture mimicks “gelatinous white polyps that appear to have had their supportive skeletons dissolved by acidic seawater.”
With work displayed in the Department of Commerce headquarters, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Museum of Ceramic Art and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Mattison hopes to urge policymakers and the public to conserve the oceans and its environments.
We are the Asteroid, Justin Brice Guariglia
After a stint working with NASA on satellite images of the Arctic, Justin Guariglia, an artist and environmental activist, started playing with highway signage instead. With pop-ups in New York, Chicago and across the country, Guariglia started putting impactful statements like “We Are The Asteroid,” “Climate Change At Work” and “No Icebergs Ahead” on seemingly normal digital boards. According to a statement from For Freedoms, “the phrase ‘We Are the Asteroid’ comes from philosopher Timothy Morton, Professor and Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University. His work explores the intersection of object-oriented thought and ecological studies.”
These signs represent a warning to normal pedestrians and drivers that climate change should not be ignored. In 2018, ten of these solar-powered signs were placed around New York as part of the Climate Museum in collaboration with the mayor’s office.
Article by the TCR team and Emily Zhao.