Human Impact’s Creative Awards Make Climate Personal

On September 15th, 2014, the Human Impacts Institute launched it’s 4th Annual Creative Climate Awards, where participants are challenged to engage broader audiences in one of the most complex topics of our times: climate change. Carefully curating the largest selection of painters, filmmakers, and performers, the Human Impacts Institute Crew selected 20 artists for this year’s innovative program.

Artists this year were challenged with the theme “making climate personal”, which relates directly to the Institute’s theory of change that people take action on difficult issues like climate change when they are able to connect it to their personal lives. “The Creative Climate Awards are a way for outside-the-box thinkers to communicate climate change in a way that draws new audiences to take action,” remarked the Human Impacts Institute’s Executive Director, Tara DePorte. She continued, “through arts and culture we can get in touch with our curiosity and emotional side, which can open us up to looking at issues such as climate in new ways.”

The 2D works exhibit of the Creative Climate Awards did just that, with artists from at least seven countries, filmmakers, painters, illustrators and sculptors brought climate change issues alive through their works. Exhibited at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices in NY from September 15th-October 15th, the exhibition challenged viewers to look into the eye of climate impacts through Linnea Ryshke’s paintings, which combined classical oil painting techniques with aggressive topics ranging from greed to personal reflection. The result: we are both drawn into the works and repelled by the grotesqueness of the subject matters. Contrastingly, Pamela Casper’s works pull you in with whimsical strokes and bright colors depicting beautiful flowers and wildlife. As one looks closer, however, her works like “Forest Fire Tornado” reveal the darkness of the impacts climate has on our natural environment. The exhibit also showcased a number of video artists, including Joseph Erb’s quiet, yet moving piece “We Prayed in Water”, which takes us through a Cherokee’s narrative and animation of the impacts fracking and oil extraction has on the culture and health of the waterways. Sue Allbert’s piece, “Lost”, has a whimsical feel to it as objects move across the screen, only to tell the story of the found objects, displaced from so many families, by Superstorm Sandy.

All of the pieces in the Creative Climate Awards exhibit speak to the audience in different ways, both in the styles of expression, as well as the message the artists is communicating. Some have chosen to “make climate personal” by reminding us of our personal impacts on each other and the world around us. Others, like Neno Belchev’s “Positive Message (Lord of the Rainbow)” remind us of the beauty and happiness we can create—through the fantastical video of an everyday looking man, creating a rainbow between his two hands. “I was really moved by seeing climate through the eyes of so many creative people,” remarked Milcah Zewdie, one of the attendees at the Creative Climate Awards opening launch party, “the works inspired me to want to be a part of taking action on climate.” And she did just that. After attending the Creative Climate Awards launch, Milcah applied and was accepted to the Human Impacts Institute’s selective internship program. She’s now working on developing next year’s Creative Climate Awards, as well as helping to develop the Institute’s Creative Climate Salon series in partnership with the Transatlantic Program of the German Government.

As an official part of Climate Week NYC and in partnership with Positive Feedback and Artbridge, the Human Impacts Institute’s Fourth Annual Creative Climate Call to Action brings together the visual arts, performance art, and film to install climate-inspired public works throughout New York City.

In an effort to inspire people to think more critically about our actions and their impacts, The Creative Climate Awards program uses creativity to broaden the climate conversation, inspire action, and to combine art and education with diverse climate themes.

This year’s artists include:

Films from: Susan Allbert, Neno Belchev, Joseph Erb, Miriam Simun & Miriam Songster, and Jody Sperling

Performances from: Marie Christine Katz, Carl Landegger, Christina Massey, Carolyn Monastra, Jeremy Pickard, and Marshall Reese & Nora Ligorano

2D works from: Pamela Casper, Tara DePorte, Sarah Filipi, Susan Hoenig, Carolyn Monastra, Linnea Ryshke, Francesca Sigilli, Yanli Shen, Shin Yeon-Moon, and Marina Zurkow with collaborators: Una Chaudhuri, Oliver Kellhammer, Fritz Ertl

The launch party also featured a live performance from the People’s Climate Chorus and Natalie Deryn Johnson of NatalieInMotion, a multi- media dance company based in NYC.

This event and exhibit was brought to you with the generous support of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York.

Thanks to the Brenner Family Foundation for supporting this program.

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