Citizens’ Climate Radio Ep. 67: Experiencing climate data through art
Citizens’ Climate Radio is a monthly podcast hosted by CCLer Peterson Toscano. Browse all our past episode recaps here, or listen to past episodes here, and check out the latest episode in the post below.
How can we help the public embrace the science that reveals our climate has been changing dramatically and very quickly? And more than that, how do we make them feel and experience the data so profoundly that it causes them to respond?
These are the questions UK-born artist Caroline Roberts brings to this month’s episode of Citizens’ Climate Radio, and to her art installation, the present of my life looks different under trees. This piece is an immersive installation of cyanotypes that has been exhibited at BOX13 ArtSpace and HCC Southwest in Houston, TX.
Originally from the UK, Caroline moved to Houston, Texas, 18 years ago. She explains that a story about drowned forest thousands of years ago in the UK, along with recent flooding in her city, inspires and informs her artistic work.
“The installation consists of 60 11-feet high panels, each one representing a year of Houston weather data and encircling the Back BOX like a grove of trees. Each varies in width based on the rainfall intensity, as measured by the number of days on which the total rainfall was greater than three inches: the point at which street flooding occurs. The panel color, from ice-blue to blue-black, represents the average nighttime temperature for that year. At first glance the immersive nature of this cyanotype installation provides a cool environment as Houston temperatures fall into autumn. However, a closer look gives the bigger picture: more shocking than any graph, this forest-like environment shows the story of rising temperatures and intensifying rain events.”
While Caroline started her career as a chemical engineer with the faith that science would save the environment, she soon realized that many fields and talents could contribute to environmental advocacy. Caroline has always relied on science, and after crunching the numbers about the future of the country’s coastline due to climate-related flooding, she found herself in a state of horror and shock for weeks.
Caroline wanted people’s jaws to drop when they saw her art, which visualizes the overwhelming information she has seen predicted for the near future. As environmental conditions over time have grown worse, her installation’s fabric coincides, growing heavy and darker and colder as the fabric winds through history and to the present.
Caroline says that viewers were “gobsmacked” by her forest of fabric, and hopes that all who see her piece will contemplate the view of their own life under trees.
For more information on the data behind this installation please continue to the story and data page.
The Art House
For this month’s segment, you will hear a dramatic reading of Kamil Haque’s play, “Confessions of the Little Match Girl to the Star.” Kamil explains that in creating this piece, he chose to fracture a fairy tale, a nursery rhyme and the calling out to one’s “mama.” These common symbols of innocence form the spine of the play.
To create the heart and soul of this piece, Kamil examined and extracted pieces from the transcripts of Greta Thunberg’s 2019 U.N.’s Climate Action Summit and George Floyd’s final moments in 2020. Through these channels he explores how two people on opposite ends of the age and racial spectrum express grief and anguish at their circumstances. How might their spirit and the spirit of their message live on literally and metaphorically?
“Confessions of the Little Match Girl to the Star” was performed at The BTS Center’s Climate Change Theatre Action 2021 event. It is read by Dr. Natasha DeJarnett, a public health expert and the chair of Citizens’ Climate Education board.
You can hear standalone versions of The Art House at Artists and Climate Change.
Good News Report
Our good news story this month comes from Solemi Herandez, the Southeast coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby. She tells us about her experiences at COP26 and shares good news about Climate Empowerment Article 12 of the Paris agreement. Solemi is hopeful for the future because of the involvement that she saw at COP26, and is hoping that more citizens will get engaged in climate work.
We always welcome your thoughts, questions, suggestions, good news, and recommendations for the show. Leave a voice mail at (518) 595-9414 (+1 if calling from outside the USA). You can email your answers to radio @ citizensclimate.org.
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