Churches Take Action on Pope Francis’ Environmental Message

Eleven churches, straddling the East Coast from Maine to North Carolina, recently shared ideas with Honoring the Future for successful parish initiatives to implement Pope Francis’ environmental message, Laudato Si’: On the Care of Our Common Home. The churches’ ideas were compiled in an online report for ready sharing with other faith-based communities.

Collectively, the churches are a microcosm of America, encompassing inner cities, suburbs, and college campuses. They range in size from St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, which serves 500 families in Woodstock, MD, to Holy Trinity, serving 3,500 families throughout metropolitan Washington, DC. Some churches date to America’s earliest days – Old St. Joseph’s, Philadelphia, founded in 1733, was colonial America’s first urban Catholic church. Holy Trinity was requisitioned for use as a Civil War military hospital.

Many of the churches witnessed transportation, immigration, and social change transform their communities. St. Aedans formed to meet the needs of Jersey City trolley workers. Sts. Mary and Joseph’s Salem, NH farming community exploded in size with the 1950s growth of the interstate highway system. Old St. Joseph’s saw suburban flight decimate Philadelphia – and urban renewal rebirth a vibrant, growing, diverse community. St. Therese in Mooresville, NC now finds 10% of its parishioners speak Spanish as their primary language. St. Ignatius in downtown Baltimore counts itself enriched by African-American, Filipino, Korean, Chinese, African, and Latino members. Parishioners at St. Francis Xavier in New York City represent a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, members of the LGBT community and a growing number of young families. St. Peters welcomes both the native and newly settled in burgeoning Charlotte, NC.

All of the churches are served by Jesuits – members, like Pope Francis, of the Catholic Church’s largest male religious order. The order is widely known for its role as educators – administering well-regarded colleges, universities and high schools – and its commitment to social justice.

Each of the churches viewed Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical as a call to action. They shared tangible examples of how they had integrated the Pope’s environmental message into ministry to provide inspiration and a starting point for other faith communities.

Their ideas attest to their resourcefulness. Beside homilies and prayers, churches used lectures, bulletins, websites, social media, discussion groups, book clubs, and workshops to educate parishioners. Topics included eco-spirituality, environmental justice, energy efficiency, and carbon footprint reduction.

Arts initiatives abounded. At St. Ignatius, Boston, students wrote commitments to protect the environment on colorful strips of paper; the gathered strips formed a beautiful “earth ball” prominently displayed near the altar. Then-pastor, Fr. Bob VerEecke, SJ, and Assistant Paul Melley composed a song (“Laudato Si’, Praise Be”).

Holy Trinity sponsored a film on the impact of climate change and an Honoring the Future panel, Climate SmART: Honoring Our Children’s Future Through Faith, Art & Action. The program featured dialog and a reception with artists whose work addresses climate change. Sts. Mary and Joseph’s banner called attention to a homily series on “acquisitiveness.”

Churches greened their own operations with energy efficient renovations, recycling programs, reusable water bottle fountains, and fair trade/sustainable coffee. They reconnected urbanites to nature with gardening programs, including support for a garden, managed by the homeless, to feed 60-70 needy individuals.

Churches also called attention to food waste with a “simple supper,” sponsored “No Meat Fridays,” cleaned a local stream, and advocated climate action to government leaders.  They collaborated with neighboring parishes, interfaith organizations, and nonprofit organizations. They identified useful online resources and, through their regional province, created a series of 10 online “Reflections” on the encyclical.

Honoring the Future produced the parish survey report in partnership with Kate Tromble, Holy Trinity Pastoral Associate for Social Justice. Fr. Edward Quinnan, SJ, and Nicholas Napolitano – Assistants, respectively, for Pastoral and Social Ministries in the Maryland and USA Northeast Jesuit Provinces – convened the group of participating parishes and provided guidance and support in preparing the report.

Clima 2016 Art Exhibition Opens in Hialeah, Florida

Includes Honoring the Future’s Alaskan Journey exhibition

Artwork by two Philadelphia artists, Peter Handler and Karen Singer, who traveled to Alaska to meet with scientists, examine impacts of climate change, and paint and photograph what they saw, is featured in an Honoring the Future exhibition opening Nov. 28, 2016 at the Milander Center for Arts in Hialeah, FL.  The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, will be on display through Jan. 13, 2017.

Peter Handler
Peter Handler, Aerial View of Drunken Forest on the Tanana Flats (2015).  Photograph. © Handler Studio 2015.  Alaska’s thawing soil causes trees to tilt or fall.

The exhibition is part of the larger Clima art celebration inspired by Miami artist Xavier Cortada to serve as the City of Hialeah’s contribution to Miami Arts Week.  Honoring the Future partnered with Cortada and the City to launch the inaugural Clima in December, 2015.  Clima aimed to provide Hialeah, a city facing the prospect of significant sea level rise, with a visual and storytelling platform for reflecting upon, and expressing, the community’s experience as climate change challenges and remakes the city. Following widespread press and public acclaim, the three founding partners sought to make Clima an annual event.

Clima 2016’s theme, Art, Science, and Insight, focuses on artist-scientist collaborations to understand and communicate the likely impact of climate change on the livelihood and well-being of humans everywhere.  It also seeks to transport Floridians to corners of the globe they may never have the opportunity to visit on their own – to empower them to “see for themselves” the early manifestations of climate change elsewhere.

The exhibition contains three interrelated segments.

Honoring the Future’s Alaskan Journey exhibition puts Hialeah’s experience in a national context.  “Alaska is warming faster than any other state,” said Fran Dubrowski, Director of Honoring the Future, “so the impacts of climate change are more readily seen there.  These two artists are expert storytellers: they deliver a powerful visual image of what is at stake in a rapidly warming Alaska, foreshadowing the enormity of the challenges Florida faces as rising temperatures reshape its landscape too. Their portrayals of a raging Alaskan wildfire are especially poignant when so much of the Southeastern U.S. is battling drought-induced wildfires.”

Xavier Cortada, “Diatom” (2015). Archival ink on aluminum, 36″ x 18″, 2014 (edition of 5). © Xavier Cortada 2015. Diatoms are single-celled algae which harness the power of the sun to create much of the oxygen we breathe.
Xavier Cortada, “Diatom” (2015). Archival ink on aluminum, 36″ x 18″, 2014 (edition of 5). © Xavier Cortada 2015. Diatoms are single-celled algae which harness the power of the sun to create much of the oxygen we breathe.

Xavier Cortada’s art-science exhibits focus on Florida’s unique climate challenges.  They include:

  • Do Not Open,” a participatory work aimed at connecting present-day South Florida residents and political refugees with future climate refugees.
  • Eco-art restoration projects for Florida wildflowers and mangroves.
  • Ceramics depicting diatoms, single-celled algae scientists examine to assess water quality and sea level rise.
  • Artwork created at three ecologically different long-term research sites in the Florida Everglades, New Hampshire and Oregon.

Rounding out Clima 2016, featured local guest artist Michael Gray presents Phylum Floridian, a series of drawings, paintings and monotype prints fusing Floridian species of animals with local human characters.  Gray intended to “illustrate people as being not so different from the creatures we share this earth with.” He framed the artworks in discarded wood or thrift store frames: “These frames at one point held someone’s family photos and now were given away for cheap resale. The frames themselves became a metaphor for how the everglades are currently being treated by our local and state governments.”

The exhibition includes an opening night reception on Dec. 2, 2016 from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm at the Milander Center for Arts.

Smithsonian Craft2Wear Show Features Artists Who Repurpose Materials

What can you do with a broken zipper? To artist Kate Cusack, the answer seems simple: create beautiful art! The Brooklyn-born artist refashions zippers discarded by fashion designers into elegant, sculptural jewelry.

Cusack is one of several artists working with repurposed material who will be featured at the Smithsonian Craft2Wear Show, October 6 – 8, 2016, in Washington, DC. Others include textile artists Cecilia Frittelli and Richard Lockwood.

Cusack aims to awaken our sense of wonder: “I give a discarded zipper new life by creating innovative jewelry that celebrates the power of imagination and promotes recycling.”

Kate Cusack - repurposed zipper jewelry
Kate Cusack – repurposed zipper jewelry

Her creativity stems, in part, from her background in art and theatrical design: she earned her BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and her MFA in costume design from the Yale School of Drama. While most designers would see a zipper as merely functional – and a broken zipper as utterly useless, Cusack sees aesthetic potential in its varying tensions: “I enjoy the contrast between the zipper’s harsh metal teeth and the fluid, whimsical shapes that I can create with its flexible fabric.”

Her craft is so transformative viewers often don’t realize her jewelry began life as a zipper. She delights in seeing them discover its origins: “There is an exciting ‘a-ha’ moment when someone realizes that there is more to my creation than they initially expected.”

The element of surprise is central to her message: “My artwork encourages the wearer to think twice about the world and to see beauty and potential in everything,” she says.

Frittelli and Lockwood weave contemporary clothing and accessories from natural fibers – silk, merino, and alpaca – and eco-friendly fibers such as bamboo, hemp, and soy. The artists strive for a zero-waste studio, upcycling leftover fabrics into pieced and patchworked clothing.

Cecilia Frittelli and Richard Lockwood - poncho
Cecilia Frittelli and Richard Lockwood – poncho

Their business extols community and sustainability. Fibers are sourced nationally, or even locally when possible. Their Saratoga Springs studio – located in a building they repurposed to acclaim from the local preservation society – is both a production and an education center, inviting customers to stop by and witness weaving in action.

“We’re providing a beautiful product, at a reasonable price, that’s made with love in a small factory or craft shop. People respond to that,” Frittelli explains. “It’s the opposite of the impersonal, consumer kind of process that so many of us go through in many other aspects of life,” Lockwood adds.

Both artists find reward in bringing ideas from concept to fruition: “There are very few times in our lives these days where you have connection with something, completely, all the way through,” says Lockwood. “Our lives are fragmented in so many different ways that the thought of coming up with an idea, seeing it through to completion and then passing it on to somebody else is quite wonderful.”

smithsonian-craft2wear-2016

The Smithsonian Craft2Wear Show, now in its 10th year, features handcrafted, limited edition clothing, jewelry, and artful accessories from 80 designers. It will be held at the National Building Museum, 401 F St., NW (Judiciary Square metro station) in Washington, DC. The show opens with a Preview Night Party from 6 – 9 pm on Thursday, October 6 (reservations by advance purchase only). The show continues Friday, October 7, 10 am – 8 pm and Saturday, October 8, 10 am – 5:30 pm. For tickets and other information, see Smithsonian Craft2Wear Show.

Climate Art & Action Exhibition Comes to George Mason University, Manassas, VA

An Honoring the Future Climate Art & Action program took place at the Hylton Performing Arts Center at George Mason University, Mansassas, VA on Sept. 8, 2016.  The program complemented a similarly titled exhibition, which opened at the Center on Aug. 28, 2016 and will remain on display until October 2, 2016.

The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, showcases sculptural objects and photographs of the work of 13 pioneering artists whose work addresses climate change.  Photographs include images of Maya Lin’s Silver Hudson sculpture and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s innovative, energy efficient Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach.  Sculptural objects include Peter Handler’s Canaries in the Coal Mine, a series of works depicting impacts of climate change, from melting Arctic ice to thawing permafrost, vanishing species, dying coral reefs, and raging forest fires.

Climate Art & Action exhibition at the Hylton Performing Arts Center
Climate Art & Action exhibition at the Hylton Performing Arts Center

The panel program featured two speakers:

  • Fran Dubrowski, Director of Honoring the Future, and
  • Changwoo Ahn, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy and Founding Director of George Mason University’s EcoScience + Art initiative.

Dubrowski put the exhibition in context by discussing the many ways contemporary artists address climate change in their work.  She challenged universities to address climate change too, in part by setting appropriate environmental education goals “for all students, not just those in environmental studies programs.”

Drunken Forest by Peter Handler depicts the effect of melting permafrost on Alaskan forests. © Handler Studio 2015.
Drunken Forest by Peter Handler depicts the effect of melting permafrost on Alaskan forests. © Handler Studio 2015.

Ahn described the interdisciplinary EcoScience + Art initiative, which brings together individuals from science, engineering, art, and design to solve ecosystem challenges. Lamenting the paucity of undergraduate interdisciplinary courses, Ahn stressed the “transformative value of sharing knowledge, problem-solving approaches, and research tools across disciplines.” He illustrated by reporting on his “Rain Project,” a year-long initiative which enabled students from different majors to co-design and build a floating wetlands on campus.  The project created a unifying community service opportunity on a heavily commuter-oriented campus, raised awareness of stormwater management options, and gathered data on how wetlands can improve water quality while providing biologically diverse habitats.

The panel program and exhibition were made possible by generous support from Lifelong Learning Institute-Manassas, a non-profit organization of adults age 50 and over who pursue enriching cultural and educational experiences through courses, travel, discussions, and social interaction with peers.

The Hylton Performing Arts Center is located at 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, VA 20110.  For more information, see: http://www.hyltoncenter.org/calendar/872/.

Honoring the Future Launches Student Climate Art Mosaic

Honoring the Future® today launched the first installment of a national digital Climate Art Mosaic of student art expressing concerns, hopes, and ideas about climate change.

Students from Philadelphia’s Mishkan Shalom Synagogue School, the Hialeah, FL Educational Academy, and Martha’s Table School in Washington, DC each created a tile for the mosaic answering the question, “What do you want to tell the world about climate change?”
 

Martha's table City of Hialeah Educational Academy Student Art on Climate Change | Mishkan Shalom Synagogue School
Courtesy of students in Philadelphia, Hialeah, FL, and Washington, DC.

 

Many students also wrote an artist’s statement explaining their thinking. Statements ranged from the emphatic – “We. Need. Trees.” – to the determined: “We need to take care of this and once and for all end this so our animals won’t suffer because of our actions.”  They reflected modern culture: “Saving the planet is more important than posting selfies.” They exuded hope: “My tile is what I want the world to be: Peace. Peace for everyone and everything.  Help make that peace.  Together.”  And they radiated enthusiasm: “This project was one of the most fun projects EVER.”

Honoring the Future published photographs of each student’s work, along with their artist’s statement, in an online digital mosaic, which will expand with contributions from students in other communities.

“Our energy and lifestyle choices will have a huge impact on our young, so it is important that decision-makers hear from students,” said Fran Dubrowski, Director of Honoring the Future.  “The mosaic empowers students to add their voices – through visual and language art – to our national conversation on climate change.”

The mosaic teaches students to be good citizens.  “Honoring the Future exposed our students to the art form of ceramics, as well as the concept of social activism, teaching children how to speak out about causes that matter to them most and make a difference in their communities,” said John Cahill, a Lead Teacher at Martha’s Table School.

The mosaic also demonstrates the value of collaboration and shows how individuals can contribute to climate solutions. “As the mosaic grows with contributions from across the nation, it can inspire hope that we will come together to address climate change and make daily lifestyle choices which advance climate solutions,” Dubrowski added.

Teachers who would like their students to participate in the mosaic can contact Honoring the Future at info@honoringthefuture.org.

Teachers Tackle Climate Change

Teachers from Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC convened at the idyllic Fox Haven Organic Farm and Learning Center in Jefferson, MD on June 27, 2016 for Honoring the Future’s day-long multidisciplinary workshop on teaching climate change. Entitled “PUT SOME STEAM IN YOUR STEM,” the workshop featured leading national experts from science, art, law and policy to present the latest information on climate change, answer teachers’ questions, and spark curriculum planning on integrating the teaching of climate change into middle and high school science, math, language arts, and art classes.

Honoring the Future Director Fran Dubrowski and Arts Advisor Peter Handler opened the program, discussing art as a means of understanding and addressing climate change.

Dr. Perry Sheffield, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, outlined the potential human health impacts of unchecked climate change.

Hydroclimatologist Dr. Kirsten Findell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory presented the science of global climate modeling, with particular attention to questions frequently asked by the public.

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DSC_1621

The program concluded with a field trip to explore biodiversity in the nearby creek. Led by Dr. Christopher Meyer, Research Zoologist & Curator, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, this portion of the program introduced teachers to the Biocube, an exciting (and inexpensive) new teaching tool that guides students to identify and appreciate biodiversity. Students may also use the tool to be “citizen scientists,” entering findings in a global database. Dr. Meyer showed how the students’ scientific findings lend themselves easily to presentation as art, using the current “Life in One Cubic Foot” exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History as one of several models. More information about the project can be found at the Smithsonian’s Q?rius website: http://qrius.si.edu/biocube.

Honoring the Future convened the workshop because a major national study shows teachers are hungry for more information about this subject. Increased interest stems, in part, from the new Next Generation Science Standards, which require middle and high school students to demonstrate an understanding of climate change and its impacts. The Next Generation Science standards – a multistate effort to improve science education, stimulate student interest in science, and give students an up-to-date science education that prepares them for college, careers, and citizenship – have been adopted by 16 states, including Maryland and the District of Columbia, and broadly examined nationwide.

Third Grader Wins Garden Challenge

A third grader won the inaugural “Garden Challenge” sponsored by Holy Trinity parish in Washington, DC with support from Honoring the Future. The student’s award for “Best Garden by an Elementary or Middle School Student” was announced at the annual parish picnic on June 12, 2016 along with awards for “Best Fruit, Vegetable or Herb Garden” and “Best Flower Garden,” both won by adults.

John Healey garden overview

The Garden Challenge was a response to Pope Francis’ exhortation in his recent environmental encyclical: “We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature.” To encourage urban parishioners to restore and deepen their connection to nature, the parish invited its members to start or re-start a garden – “to work the earth, get to know it better, appreciate it” – and to share photos of the results.

Kate Tromble, the parish’s Pastoral Associate for Social Justice, observed: “Despite our rain (or maybe because of it), we had some beautiful submissions. Parishioners are composting, utilizing rain barrels, growing herbs, vegetables, and flowers. People have created spaces for meditation. We saw gardens crafted with creativity and love as well as a commitment to care for creation.”

The challenge was part of a partnership between Holy Trinity Church and Honoring the Future to create a year of climate education programming for this 7,000 member parish – both for its own value and as a model for faith-based institutions. The collaboration yielded 13 programs, from artists’ talks to lectures, social service trips, book club discussions, an energy efficiency workshop, and a gardening information session, reaching every age group from the very young to seniors. As the year draws to an end, Holy Trinity and Honoring the Future are working to spread “lessons learned” to other parishes.

Ceramic Artist Wins Honoring the Future Sustainability Award at Smithsonian Craft Show

Sustainable art garners multiple awards.

A Massachusetts ceramic artist, Paula Shalan, won the Honoring the Future® Sustainability Award at last night’s opening of the prestigious 2016 Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, DC. The national award, which comes with a $1,000 prize, recognizes an artist whose work educates the public about climate change or inspires or models a sustainable response to climate change.

Shalan aims to “reflect the precious beauty of our varied parks, inspire others, and honor our earth” through her ceramics. She draws inspiration from nature, particularly time spent as an Artist-in-Residence in Acadia National Park, Maine.

Paula Shalan – recycled fuel firing Paula Shalan – recycled fuel firing[/caption]

Paula-2

To produce sustainably, Shalan uses local clay, minimizing emissions that would occur from transporting raw materials long distances. Her pots are hand coiled and pit-fired, using some of ceramic’s oldest known techniques. Her pit is powered with recycled fuel to “respect our earth’s limited resources.”

Jane Milosch, who directs Smithsonian multi-disciplinary research in history, art, and culture and who formerly served as the Smithsonian Art Museum Renwick Gallery’s chief curator, judged the award, filling in for Lloyd Herman, who had been scheduled to judge but was unable to attend. Milosch noted both the technical sophistication of Shalan’s pit-firing technique and the beauty of the final product. “I could see the forest in your work,” she told Shalan.

Eighteen artists from 11 states vied for the award; several besides Shalan earned recognition. Husband-wife team Wence and Sandra Martinez won the Silver Award for overall excellence. Wence, a master tribal weaver, and Sandra, a biomorphic painter, have collaborated for nearly 30 years on tapestries for the wall or floor. They rely heavily on natural, plant-based dyes or undyed wool and primitive imagery meant to evoke ancestral wisdom and the need for stewardship.

Claire Kelly won “Excellence in Glass” for sculptures which “describe the fragility of our world and the need for conservation.” Dianne Nordt won “First Time Exhibitor Award” for hand-woven, hand-hemmed blankets of hand-dyed and naturally colored wool from sheep she raises.

Claire_1
Wence_3
Diane_1

From left to right, Claire Kelly (glass), Wence and Sandra Martinez (tapestry), and Dianne Nordt (blankets)

The work of all 18 artists applying for the sustainability award remains on view at the show at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC through April 24, 2016. Each has posted an “Ask Me About Sustainability” sign in their exhibition booth, explaining how their art addresses sustainability. The signs are intended to spark conversations about sustainability with the show’s estimated 6,500 visitors. “We hope these beautiful artworks – and the conversations they initiate – will inspire viewers to be creative about addressing climate change in their own lives,” said Honoring the Future Director Fran Dubrowski.

The Sustainability Award is the result of a partnership between Honoring the Future and the Smithsonian Women’s Committee, a volunteer grant making organization dedicated to advancing the Smithsonian’s mission to increase and diffuse knowledge. The Smithsonian Women’s Committee produces the Smithsonian Craft Show to generate funds for grants to support education, outreach and research at the Smithsonian’s 19 museums and galleries, nine research facilities, 20 libraries, and the National Zoo.

 

Honoring the Future® Partners With Smithsonian Craft Show to Announce Sustainability Prize

Prize Recognizes Artist’s Work on Climate Change

The “Honoring the Future® Sustainability Award” will be presented at preview night April 20, prior to the April 21 opening of the 2016 Smithsonian Craft Show. This is only the second time in the Show’s history such an award is being offered.

The award, which comes with a $1,000 prize, recognizes an artist whose work educates the public about climate change or inspires or models a sustainable response to climate change. Lloyd Herman, founding Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, will serve as judge.

“This award serves three purposes,” said Honoring the Future Director Fran Dubrowski.  “It showcases pioneering artists, challenges us to rethink consumer choices, and invites craft show visitors to discuss sustainability with creative artists.” An estimated 6,500 visitors are expected to attend the show.

Eighteen artists from 12 States are vying for the award.  Many salvaged raw material from waste, refashioning broken skateboards, discarded zippers, beeswax, and wood and fabric scraps into beautiful art. Others used clean energy sources (e.g., solar, recycled fuel) or natural materials and dyes. One, Mary Jackson, led a successful campaign to protect the native sweetgrass used in her basketry from encroaching development.

See images below.

Kate Cusack – repurposed zippers
Kate Cusack – repurposed zippers
Miella Green – repurposed beeswax
Miella Green – repurposed beeswax
Mary Jackson – natural sweetgrass
Mary Jackson – natural sweetgrass
Tara Locklear – repurposed broken skateboards
Tara Locklear – repurposed broken skateboards
Dianne Nordt – natural materials and dyes
Dianne Nordt – natural materials and dyes
Julia Turner – repurposed wood scraps
Julia Turner – repurposed wood scraps
Holly Tornheim – solar energy, repurposed wood scraps
Holly Tornheim – solar energy, repurposed wood scraps
Lucrezia Beerli-Bieler – theme: balance in nature
Lucrezia Beerli-Bieler – theme: balance in nature
Aaron Hequembourg – salvaged wood, metal and books
Aaron Hequembourg – salvaged wood, metal and books
Claire Kelly – theme: conservation
Claire Kelly – theme: conservation
Wence & Sandra Martinez – natural materials and dyes
Wence & Sandra Martinez – natural materials and dyes
Niki Ulehla – repurposed wood scraps
Niki Ulehla – repurposed wood scraps
Sara Drower – theme: air pollution
Sara Drower – theme: air pollution
Chie Hitchner – natural materials and dyes
Chie Hitchner – natural materials and dyes
Yoshiko Komatsu – reused antique silk
Yoshiko Komatsu – reused antique silk
Amy Nguyen – natural materials, zero waste garments
Amy Nguyen – natural materials, zero waste garments
Paula Shalan – recycled fuel firing
Paula Shalan – recycled fuel firing
Eric Serritella – theme: human disregard for nature
Eric Serritella – theme: human disregard for nature

Media requests for permission to reprint these images can be obtained at press@honoringthefuture.org.

Several artists emphasized respect for nature. Lucrezia Beerli-Bieler’s intricate paper cuttings, each crafted from a single sheet of paper, “show that everything in nature is connected.” Glass artist Claire Kelly said, “My elephant sculptures describe the fragility of our world.” Sara Drower’s miniature quilt, containing a digitized photo of humans caught up in a Shanghai air pollution episode, emphatically makes the point: “We Are Poisoning Ourselves.”

Some artists offered wry inspiration.  Eric Serritella’s ceramic “trees” – crafted to resemble weathered bark – emphasize nature’s tenacity, despite human disregard. “I strive for each creation to foster awareness and hope viewers acquire new environmental appreciations and behaviors,” the artist said.  Niki Ulehla carved dump-salvaged wood scraps into marionettes named “Dante” and “Virgil” after characters in Dante’s Inferno. She intends Dante’s and Virgil’s literary descent into hell, where they encountered greed and gluttony, to remind us of “the wastefulness of our consumer culture and its long-term environmental ramifications.”

The Sustainability Award is the result of a partnership between Honoring the Future and the Smithsonian Women’s Committee. The Smithsonian Women’s Committee is a volunteer grant making organization dedicated to advancing the Smithsonian’s mission to increase and diffuse knowledge. The Smithsonian Women’s Committee produces the Smithsonian Craft Show to generate funds for grants to support education, outreach and research at the Institution’s 19 museums and galleries, nine research facilities, 20 libraries, and the National Zoo.

“The Sustainability Award highlights sustainable design while generating funds to support the Smithsonian goal of understanding and sustaining a biodiverse planet,” said Craft Show Co-Chair Sue Beddow.

Widely regarded as the most prestigious juried show and sale of American fine craft, the Smithsonian Craft Show is in its 34rd year.  It will be held April 21˗24 at the National Building Museum, 401 F St., NW (Judiciary Square Metro station) in Washington, D.C.  The 2016 show will feature the work of 121 artists, chosen from a pool of 1,100 applicants. All of the chosen artists were invited to apply for the Sustainability Award.

In Tribute to Contributing Artist Gary Braasch

Honoring the Future Mourns Loss of Gifted Artist

World-renowned photographer Gary Braasch died March 7, 2016 while photographing the impacts of climate change on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.  The Portland, Oregon resident was in his early 70s.

Honoring the Future mourned his loss. “Gary’s photographs show us the human face of climate change,” said Fran Dubrowski, Director of Honoring the Future.  “They invite us to enter the world of the photograph, see the damage and suffering wrought by climate change – and do something to stop it. They make us front-seat witnesses to climate change.”

Bangladesh Village Edge BRAASCH

Braasch was one of the first environmental photographers to dedicate himself to chronicling worldwide climate change. He traveled to all seven continents, deploying aerial, underwater, and macro photography to document humans and ecosystems at risk.  He produced a massive photographic record of receding glaciers, flooded islands, oil-soaked waters, parched lands, stranded walruses, bleached coral reefs – even climate diplomacy at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

He spent time interviewing climate change scientists, poring over the scientific database and giving it a visual voice.  His iconic images communicate what science could not: showing us how to see, feel, and think about climate havoc.

He understood the importance of context, juxtaposing old photographs of glaciers with modern images to illustrate how far glaciers had retreated, or capturing images of exploratory drilling equipment alongside pristine Arctic shores to show what was at risk in an oil spill.

His work graced the pages of the New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Smithsonian, Time, Life, Audubon, and Discover, among other publications. He wrote two books: the widely acclaimed “Earth Under Fire: How Global Warming is Changing the World” and, with co-author Lynne Cherry, How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate: Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming.” The former book, aimed at adults, was one of the first photographic books on climate change; the latter won 16 awards, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science Best Middle-School Science Book of the Year.

A tireless advocate for climate education, Braasch launched a website, World View of Global Warming,” to host his images as a resource for scientists, educators, students, and the public.  He cofounded the nonprofit Young Voices on Climate Change and co-created a film series, Young Voices for the Planet.” Nine of the brief films about student climate activists will be aired on 55 American public broadcasting stations beginning April, 2016.

Braasch contributed work to numerous exhibitions, including Honoring the Future’s recent Climate Art & Action exhibition at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regional headquarters in Philadelphia, as well as exhibitions at the Boston Museum of Science, the National Academy of Science, and Chicago’s Field Museum, among other prestigious venues. He was a Founding Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and a Nikon “Legend Behind the Lens” photographer who won coveted awards, including the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography and North American Nature Photography Association’s Outstanding Photographer Award.

Braasch died while photographing coral bleaching and death off the coast of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, a 1,400 mile-long World Heritage Site threatened by rising sea levels, warmer and more acidic oceans, and extreme weather attributable to climate change.

“He was a great man, and he died doing what he loved to do,” said his son, Cedar Braasch.  Peter Handler, Honoring the Future Arts Advisor, noted: “Gary left a vast and powerful photographic legacy. He educated us, challenged us, and inspired us to act on climate change. We and future generations will always be in his debt.”



Mags Harries and Lajos Héder,
SunFlowers – An Electric Garden (detail)
Courtesy of the artists. More


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