Art in the Times of Climate Crisis
As I continue to read and meditate on the urgent topic of the global climate crisis, my dilemma of what materials and processes to use in my art practice becomes more evident and my commitment to act on it in my studio grows stronger. For a while now, and in the spirit of refusing, reducing, reusing, repurposing and/or recycling, to avoid falling into consumerism in my practice, I have looked for alternative supports for my paintings. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I frequent thrift stores in search of used canvases instead of consuming new ones or work on rejected ones that I find on the curb in my neighborhood. I am also excited about working on corrugated cardboard, sturdy and strong, or cardboard packaging panels.
I am often asked what my thoughts are on the longevity of my cardboard pieces. If we look throughout art history, we discover that artists have frequently used cardboard as support; for example, Edvard Munch used this material in his iconic “The Scream” (1893). The fact that this piece is still enjoyed by visitors in the National Gallery of Norway in Oslo is proof that cardboard -- maintained under controlled conditions -- can reasonably withstand the test of time.
I also know that cardboard can only be recycled an average of 6 times, as fibers get shorter during each recycling phase. Thus, using it for a more permanent purpose and transforming it into an art object instead of an eventual contributor to the ever-growing landfill is, in my opinion, significant.
Additionally, when questioned about the permanence of my cardboard pieces, I wonder: how relevant is the longevity of an art object in a world that is rapidly expiring…?
Perhaps it is not a coincidence that “The Scream” was made on cardboard. Perhaps it was a premonition for the calamity that was in store for us with the integrated human-made pollution and exploitation of the Earth. I still hope that with humility and compassion to Nature and the Planet we can succeed in acting, individually and as a society, to reverse the course of the environmental crisis.
Image: ”About Climate Change”, acrylic and acrylic pen on corrugated cardboard, 41 x 23 inches, available for purchase. This painting is on view at TWO THIRTEEN studio for the next SoWa First Friday and during the month of October. Feel free to browse through my website if you are interested in my artworks. If you have questions, please contact me here.