CLIMATE EMERGENCY – the fierce urgency of now
Nature’s fierce beauty enraptures, even as these paintings recognize that we are living in the emergency of radical climate change. If we continue to heat the seas and skies around us, we humans will push climate change past an irreversible turning point. When scientists speak plainly about the impending threats, they warn us that we must begin reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero and make a major dent in the next ten years, or we will run out of time. Even these scientists are continually behind the curve as the rate of change accelerates faster than the data can be assessed and the results published. We are already witnessing sea levels rising, furious wildfires, strengthening hurricanes, dangerous heatwaves, acidifying oceans, dying species: we risk leaving our grandchildren with an uninhabitable planet.
Still, the painter is called to serve our shared need for beauty, the viewer drawn in by the visual appeal of the paint before the work can have any impact. These paintings use acrylic paint to visualize the drama of the climate shift. Climate change is at its core a story of surging water: rising seas, massing storms, flooding rivers, melting ice. Acrylic paint is at its essence a water medium, so in this series I have investigated the myriad ways that acrylic paint disperses and settles in liquid currents, manipulated by squeegees, spray bottles, eye droppers, rags and simple gravity. The image arises in the interplay of intention and accident as the water in the paint and acrylic mediums slowly evaporates, leaving traces of the flowing liquid as marks of color on the wooden panels. The painting process emulates the natural evolution of physical patterns as water and air shape our world. But the painting finally comes to rest; as we keep burning carbon we stir the climate towards a terminal melt.
“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.
“Today’s IPCC Working Group 1 Report is a ‘code red’ for humanity . . The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible.”
— U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres on 2021 U.N. science report on climate.