Using Art to get People to Care About the Environment

We’ve all seen sad, depressing, and otherwise disturbing photos of animals or people suffering after a human made disaster. You know, like the ducks dying in the tar sands or photos from the Bhopal disaster. Photographers have long thought that by showing these disturbing and truth-capturing photos people will start to care about the damage we are doing to the environment. Years of neglect and a lack of change has proven this point wrong.

So what do we do?

Artist Chris Jordan examined this very question and has found new ways to use art to get people to acknowledge the natural world and what we’re doing to it.

Slowly, the way Jordan thought about his work on Midway changed. His job wasn’t to soak up what he calls the darkness of the world; he could face it, he realized, without taking it in. “You acknowledge the presence of the darkness,” he says, “and you shine your light into it.” And his job wasn’t to be transformed by fire or to find a hidden door to hope: “We have this cultural obsession with hope. I’m not sure how useful hope really is.” When he gives a talk and someone stands up—someone always does—to ask, “But what do I do about this? What’s the solution?” he no longer wants to answer them. “That person,” he says, “may be feeling something uncomfortable that they don’t want to feel. They’re feeling the enormity and the complexity of the problems of our world, and that makes them feel anxious.” To give them an easy answer, he says, would be “like pulling the plug in a bathtub: the feeling all drains out. My job is to help people connect with what they feel, even if it’s uncomfortable.”

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Documentary: This Changes Everything

The Toronto International Film Festival starts today and one of the documentaries that will be screened is based on the book This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. The film shares the same title and looks like it carries the same optimistic and clear message: we can change the world and we have to!

Filmed over 211 shoot days in nine countries and five continents over four years, This Changes Everything is an epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change.

Directed by Avi Lewis, and inspired by Naomi Klein’s international non-fiction bestseller This Changes Everything, the film presents seven powerful portraits of communities on the front lines, from Montana’s Powder River Basin to the Alberta Tar Sands, from the coast of South India to Beijing and beyond.

Interwoven with these stories of struggle is Klein’s narration, connecting the carbon in the air with the economic system that put it there. Throughout the film, Klein builds to her most controversial and exciting idea: that we can seize the existential crisis of climate change to transform our failed economic system into something radically better.

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The book:

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Artists Bring Peace to the Streets

le-policier-amoureux (digital)

Street art about peace is getting special attention in London these next few weeks. Artists from all over the world are going to explore the idea of ‘peace in our streets’ and what it means to them. It looks like it’ll be a great exhibit.

If you’re in London you should check it out.

The show will be titled Peace from the street up! and will feature work inspired by the theme of ‘peace in our cities’. The artists, some of whom come from conflict-affected regions, will reflect on opportunities for peaceful change in an increasingly urbanised world.

“Urban and street art has a long history of engaging with important social issues and harnessing peaceful social change through creativity and humour. We thought it would be fascinating to invite urban and street artists from around the world to reflect on what peace in their cities could look like.”

The exhibition will be part of Alert’s second Talking Peace Festival, a month-long series of events designed to spark conversations about peace through creativity. Exhibition and auction information, and a full list of participating artists will be available on

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Enter an Endangered Animal and Learn of Their Plight

Evelyn Roth Inflatable Animals

Artist Evelyn Roth is using classroom sized animals to spread the word about endangered animals. She has created bright and cheerful looking versions of animals that are endangered to provide a pop-up space for kids to learn all about these animals. Her work is presently travelling the world and educating children.

“The designs interact with the people inside to make a fascinating, enjoyable and engaging intimate atmosphere where people are inspired to listen and learn and are subconsciously imprinted with the stories.’’

Roth returned from Hawaii this week after being commissioned to create a Southern Right Whale and two Monk Seals to highlight the plight of these endangered animals to the local community.

“The Monk Seal colony on Kauai in Hawaii is the last remaining colony in the world,’’ Roth said.

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Using Comics to Explain Complex Economics

Economix Comics

Economix Comix is a series of comics that looks at, you guessed it, economics. Using comics is a great way to translate really complex economic ideas into something which is more relatable and understandable. Late last year the artist (and brain) behind the series of comics released a look at the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Above is one of the pages from the comic looking at the chaos of a deal the TPP really is. It’s worth a full read if you’re new to learning about the TPP and you can read it all for free here.

Economix Comix stays current too! Here’s a brief look at the Greece situation in the Euro zone.

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