Does climate change freak you out? Read the news on any given day, and you’d think we are all soon-to-be goners.
What do we need to do to solve the climate crisis, the ways humans are trashing the planet at an unprecedented rate, or environmental problems like air pollution, urban sprawl, waste disposal, and many more issues that affect every human, animal, and nation on this planet?
How do we get it done?
Well, art will play a significant role.
Art can help address climate change because to do so, we need to change cultural beliefs. Art is a powerful tool; it can influence people and bring about change, both on a large scale and at a community-based level.
Colombian artist Moises Morales Duque is making a call to action on the extinction of animals and deforestation as a direct effect of climate change on our planet. His current major US exhibit at the Box Gallery in the Cultural Corridor of West Palm Beach displays his work in bringing attention to Colombia’s delicate and vulnerable ecosystems. The exhibit is titled ‘La Mancha Humana’, (The Human Stain).
Morales’s mixed media is a collection of aesthetically beautiful and complex visual works on canvas that document the devastation caused by climate change in Colombia. Through hummingbirds and palm trees, the artist invites the community to review the urgency of preserving endangered species. Each painting tells the alarming story of some animal that has either been extinct recently or soon will be.
His art is the result of the composition of three elements and phases: the canvas, the paint stains, and the painting of animals. Morales first chooses the canvas, then invites people in his community to use it as a space where they can create shapes in the form of atomic movements, microorganisms, or individual elements out of traces that create a sound composition. Finally, the animals appear–painted by Morales–amidst the abstract traces and shapes as non-recognizable, vulnerable subjects—hence foxes, bears, fish, hummingbirds, they all tell a similar ordeal of surviving these times of rapid cultural changes.
“My work shows how human actions, due to overpopulation, have become a living force that transforms the planet,” explains Morales Duque standing next to one of his artwork. “I wanted to represent in a picturesque way–using different social dynamics where various groups of people take part leaving graphic traces as human beings–how our actions are transforming the environment and the planet, affecting the natural habitat of different living beings. It is not so much about their artistic capabilities, but rather about leaving a trace (a human footprint) of their actions to have documentation that shows how our actions are transforming the planet, the life of animals, and our own lives”.
Morales Duque is not saying what is good or bad. He’s disclosing how transformative our actions can be and that is important. As species and ecosystems around the globe are being destroyed at an alarming rate– more than 38,500 species are threatened with extinction–the number of species within the conservation status “Red Color” for “Critically Endangered” keeps growing. In such a category, Morales Duque thinks humans should be included.
“With all that’s happening, global warming, deforestation, overpopulation, famine, etc., we’re all on the red list–considered Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered,” says Morales Duque. “If we do not change or seek change, in 50 years there’s no future for other generations. So, what I do is create social workshops–all are invited but children take part more as adults are far too inhibited. In these workshops, I introduce them to colors, concepts of painting, and engage them in creating art. During the process, we speak about how important is to take care of this only planet we have.”
“Once they finish, I only interview by painting different animals that are near threatened, vulnerable, or extinct in our own communities. Their traces are organic ways to document human actions role.”
The paintings in the exhibit do not traffic in negativity. They’re poetic expressions of a message that is critical to protecting the natural resources we need to survive.
Defeatism won’t get us anywhere but art will certainly get us somewhere. Given the seemingly dismal reality, this extraordinary exhibit can help people from all walks of life understand what things can be done.
If you visit, the exhibit includes a three-panel, larger-than-life installation accompanied by various paintings and limited edition prints focused on Colombia’s flora and fauna to address the climate change effects on the country’s delicate ecosystem.
The Box Gallery is at 811 Belvedere Rd, West Palm Beach. Online at www.theboxgallery.info