Painting Ice & Climate Pollution: Student Art inspired by James Balog
In 2007 acclaimed photographer, James Balog established the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) project. The goal of the project was to “merge art and science to give a ‘visual voice’ to the planet’s changing ecosystems.” Balog and the EIS team’s hard work under extreme conditions was documented in the outstanding and award winning 2012 “Chasing Ice.” By all accounts the photography and cinematography of the glacier melt is breathtaking and terrifying. As part of an initiative to raise awareness of climate change in our school, students studied the photographs of Balog’s haunting and beautiful photographs from his book: Ice: Portraits of Vanishing Ice.
Photographs such as the one below tell a blunt and powerful story of our ice melting in just six short years. Balog's commitment to spreading the message about global warming is something we all should be attentive to!
TEACHING CLIMATE CHANGE:
This began as a small class project and quickly turned into a larger one that brought non-Art students into the studio.Teaching in the 21st Century involves showing students the path navigating the infinite resources and reports online. Fortunately, in this day and age with sharing information, students can feel that they have a voice and they are making a difference. It is my hope that my students will see how Art & Activism can promote positive change. I also want them to understand, like all things, it is a process! By empowering young people and arming them with honest information and reputable resources on current issues, you get results: passion-driven learners, good global citizens and open-minded thinkers! It's good to have students seeking out truths. Need an example? Take a look at this NPR story from 2008 of a then skeptical high-school student, Kristen Byrnes who was inspired to learn more about global warming. She was criticized by many, but ultimately posed some valid questions and inspired a dialogue. Williams College students also pressed their institution to make strides on campus.
Zaria Forman: Since posting this assignment in February 2014, I have learned about the artwork of Zaria Forman an exceptional artist currently working to create breathtaking compositions of water and glaciers. Her work is OUTSTANDING! I've included a small gallery below of her work, but please visit her website!
Shopping List of Supplies: In order to create and build texture and reflective light, we used a variety of materials. I made some "test run" examples so students could see how layering the various mediums can change the overall composition. Dr. Ph Martin's Blue India Ink, Watercolor (Aquarell & Watercolor Pencils too!) Liquitex Modeling Paste, Liquitex Sand Modeling Paste, Charcoal, Mode Podge mixed with glitter and sparkle dust/powder, Tim Holtz Distress Crackle Paint (Clear Rock Candy), Dick Blick Liquid Glitter Water Color, Canvas & Acrylic Paper.
I'm always working on including more green supplies in the classroom. My Aunt Maria has worked hard to improve classroom learning locally here in the Greater Boston Area. Schools are where good habits can be formed. Learn more about green classroom supplies at Green 4 My School We are living in a time of change and the generations who follow us will look back and hopefully remember our generation as the one which took steps to restore our planet. When I am feeling overwhelmed, I think of the late words of Nelson Mandela:
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
In the time since I published this post there has been a number of reports put out concerning our weather changes. This story from CBS is exactly the what organizations such as Protect our Winters have been emphasizing! -
"Climate Change should have been called Climate Pollution": These are my father's words and I agree wholeheartedly. Certainly, the earth changes naturally over time but the majority of recent change has been happening as a result of our human footprint in pollution. The facts are staggering. Through the work of intrepid artists & scientists like Balog, we are starting to change the way we lead our lives and consider our footprint. For my students, seeing Balog's photography and films was life changing. Students worked over the course of two months to learn more about the changing face of our earth. A week after we began looking at this work, tragedy struck in the Philippines with the devastating Typhoon Haiyan. A student came into Art Club and said, "Ms. Rynne, what we were just talking about this and then it happened." I urge you to take the time to listen to Naderev Saño's repeated appeals (one following Typhoon Bopha in 2012 and the next following Typhoon Haiyan). For a young person to see such staggering images, to hear such emotional testimonies and pleas year after year is overwhelming and frustrating. And yet the reality is that we are all guilty of contributing in some way to this problem. In the months since we began this project shortly before Typhoon Haiyan, the tragedy in the Philippines has lost momentum in the news.
FILM: I often share videos by Waterlust in my classroom and encourage my students to get out there and create Art which shares their joy of and concern for water. Each of my students were stoked to see the breathtaking bombardment of images here. How can you not be charged by Waterlust videos?!? (My students were even more pumped to learn it's my little brother, Patrick, who is a founder of Waterlust and is featured in many of the videos. I'm a very proud big sis!) The Waterlust Team has been innovative in exploring creative ways to engage people and to inspire more concern for water. Each time I share a Waterlust video in my class, the energy generated is palpable. They want to charge! Waterlust films ignite a spark!
While I am teaching Art History, I often have students watch the PBS e2 Series, an outstanding look at current and creative design projects. There are a number of 20 minute provocative films and I occasionally will give them as homework so we can have discussions in class about making environmentally aware architecture choices. Film such as, "Elemental" and "Midway", are powerful creative tools to share personal narratives and document environmental changes to large audiences.
Please visit the incredibly comprehensive EIS website to learn more about why glacier’s matter and how you can make a difference. NASA has a page for educators to help raise a generation who is aware and prepared.
Extreme Ice Survey: http://extremeicesurvey.org/
James Balog Photography: http://jamesbalog.com/
Zaria Forman: http://www.zariaforman.com/?from_fb=1
Environmental Defense Fund: http://www.edf.org/
Teach Climate Change: Classroom Resources
Protect our Winters: http://www.protectourwinters.org
Green Schools Initiative: http://www.greenschools.net
Climate Change Resource Center: http://www.fs.fed.us/ccrc
National Snow & Ice Data Center: http://nsidc.org/
Current Event Articles:
'Nothing's changed': Philippine typhoon survivors fear being forgotten http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/02/01/22522389-nothings-changed-philippine-typhoon-survivors-fear-being-forgotten?lite
"'Science Guy' Bill Nye Debates Lawmaker on Climate Change" NBC's Meet the Presshttp://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/science-guy-bill-nye-debates-lawmaker-climate-change-n31586
"Ice Melt in part of Antarctic 'appears unstoppable' NASA says http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/12/us/nasa-antarctica-ice-melt/index.html?hpt=hp_t1
"John Kerry: Climate change as big a threat as terrorism, poverty, WMDs"
"Arctic Sea Ice Sits at Record Low for Mid-February" by Brian Kahn at Climate Central on Feb 19, 2014
"The Pulsing Earth" RADIOLAB http://www.radiolab.org/story/312313-this-pulsing-earth/
"Melting Ice Makes the Arctic a much worse heat magnet than Scientists feared." By Ari Phillips on February 18, 2014 at 4:17 pm
"Don't let Philippines become a 'forgotten crisis' : UN Chief" Dec. 2013 http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/don-t-let-philippines/931050.html
"In-depth: the psychological and social roots of climate change skepticism" By Felicity Le Quesne THE INTERNATIONAL