Artists take on global warming in Hood exhibit

Artist Eileen Wold and her children Brighid and Colin Barry view one of the pieces of art by Heather Mekkelson on display at Hood College recent show entitled "Warmer." Eileen had nearly a dozen pieces of work in the show. Staff photo by Bill Green

A solar-powered Lite-Brite and screen-printed statistics brought the politics of global warming into the art world at a Hood College exhibit last month.

Gallery director Adam Farcus brought together the work of five artists for the show, called “Warmer.”

Baltimore artist Eileen Wold, who created the Lite-Brite piece, said it was hard to find subjects when she started out as a landscape painter.

“I was finding it harder and harder to find landscapes that were not affected by climate change in some way,” she said.

Instead of omitting a power plant from her paintings, she said, she painted them in and started to focus on environmental issues and energy production.

Toronto-based artist Allison Rowe turns graphs into art with a vibrant but minimal approach to global warming data. Her screen-printed pieces take away the graphs’ numbers and scales, leaving colorful lines and curves.

Their titles range from “Emission Reductions Under Existing and Proposed Policies to 2030” to “American Crude Oil Production and Forecast 1890 - 2010.”

Rowe said she focuses on environmental issues because she wants to give viewers a new perspective and inspire action on a much-debated topic.

“There is still a lack of will to respond to the issue,” she said.

Farcus said his goal for the exhibition was to give "emotional respite" from the fear and misunderstandings that can come from conflicting reports about global warming. 

"The resulting effects can be calming, darkly humorous and still somewhat unsettling," he said. 

The "unsettling" feeling came especially from Chicago-based artist Heather Mekkelson's household items, distressed to look like debris after a storm or natural disaster.

Art is not the most effective medium for creating change in the global warming discussion, Farcus said, since activism is more direct.

Laurel artist Richard Weiblinger said he didn’t intend to make a political statement when he took his photographs of the Chesapeake Bay. “I was trying to represent the beauty of the Chesapeake Bay and how fragile it is,” he said. “The beauty is there and we need to protect it.”

Follow Sylvia Carignan on Twitter: @SylviaCarignan. 

(5) comments


good to see artists talking about this. climate change is not debated among scientists. But culturally we are still debating it. Can artists find a way to shift that?


Title needs to say climate change instead of global warming.


Global warming is like the weather: Everybody talks about it, nobody does anything about it. Some scientists are looking at data and climate models and are proclaiming that the atmosphere has reached a tipping point and that extinction of the human race is just a matter of time.


And just what can you do about the weather? They can't even get the forecast right 2-3 days out yet somehow know what will be happening years from now? Good luck on that one!


feel better now

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