MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

The Vanishing

Alexis Rockman: Adelies (2008); collection of Robin and Steven Arnold

Alexis Rockman: Adelies (2008); collection of Robin and Steven Arnold

A new exhibit at the Whatcom Musuem in Bellingham, Washington, examines the specter of disappearing glaciers in this era of climate change:

“Vanishing Ice” … in its array of various mediums, conveys the beauty of alpine and polar regions—the pristine landscapes that have inspired generations of artists—at a time when rising temperatures pose a threat to them.

As the exhibition’s narrative tells, ice has captured the imaginations of artists for centuries. The very first known artistic depiction of a glacier dates back to 1601. It is a watercolor depicting the topography of the Rofener Glacier in Austria by a man named Abraham Jäger. But, in the 18th and 19th centuries, it became more common for artists, acting also as naturalists, to explore glaciated regions, fleeing the routine of everyday life for a jolting spiritual adventure. Their artistic renderings of these hard-to-reach locales served to educate the public, sometimes even gracing the walls of natural history museums and universities…The recent art tends to illustrate the disheartening findings of climate experts.
Patricia Leach, executive director of the museum, sees “Vanishing Ice” as a powerful tool. “Through the lens of art, the viewer can start thinking about the broader issue of climate change,” she says. “Believe it or not, there are still people out there who find this to be a controversial topic. We thought that this would open up the dialogue and take away the politics of it.”

Filed under: art exhibition, environment, science

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