Arts & Social Change

A virtual field trip to a climate change seminar in Canada

In light of the Public Climate School from May 25th to 29th participants engaged in an online field trip to Canada. Lecturer Sarah Abbott and students Amy Snider and Mika Abbott shared their work and reflected on experiences of the the multidisciplinary course "Engaging Climate Change: Creativity, Community, Intervention" at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan.

On Wednesday 27th May, 19-20:30 CET participants engaged in an online field trip to Canada.

Course description:

„Engaging Climate Change: Creativity, Community, Intervention“, is a multidisciplinary course that explores climate change and environmental concerns, with a focus on resilience, community, Indigenous perspectives, science, artist engagements, local/global projects, and thinking outside the box in the face of change. Assignments are applied and/or artistic explorations of course themes.

Follow the link for a more detailed view on the Changing the Box assignment.

A public presentation of the students‘ work from the class, called „Field Trip: Changing the Climate,“ was held at the end of semester. Students presented on a range of topics and in various formats exploring climate and personal change, human impacts, Indigenous perspectives, reconciliation, and the interconnectedness between all species and Earth. Their work includes eco-friendly photography development, a singalong of an original composition, a primary educational school mini-unit, a personal reflection on being a climate activist, reconsideration of an essay from a new perspective, a carbon footprint survey, a motivational speech, considerations of animal and nonhuman welfare, audio art, video, digital photography, sculpture, and actions for change.

Amy’s art – Amys Kunst

Calving by Amy Snider

House on Fire by Amy Snider

Saskatchewan Glacier by Amy Snider

Amy’s Statement – Amys Gedanken

My work with the porcelain cup-shaped sculptures I’ve created is to represent the state of the world’s glaciers in the face of climate change: some of these pieces appear to be melting, others disintegrate in water while particles of clay “calve” off of them, and the ones in “Saskatchewan Glacier” are constructed of snowflake shapes barely holding together in the form of a cup. I’ve employed the archetype of the cup as it is a vessel associated with the act of drinking; nearly seventy percent of the world’s freshwater is currently held in ice, and a significant amount of the drinking water we have in the Canadian prairie, where I live, is what geologists refer to as “glacial wastage.”

The Saskatchewan Glacier, a glacial “toe” of the Columbia Icefield in Alberta, Canada, contributes to the inflow of lakes and reservoirs, our water sources for agriculture, hydropower, and industrial and municipal uses. Besides the economic implications of their disappearance, I mourn the loss of the glaciers, ancient rivers of ice whose beauty and water sustain me, and this work is my tribute to them. Using a medium that is geologically connected to them, my clay-based cups in “Saskatchewan Glacier” represent the fragility of the glaciers at this historical moment – the paper-thin branches of their porcelain snowflakes are barely touching one another, resulting in cups so fragile that a draft in a room could destroy them.

Many of these cups do not survive firing, and needless to say, the ones that do don’t hold water. During installation, many break, and their destruction, resulting in porcelain “snowflakes” on the gallery floor, further indicates the ephemerality of the glaciers they represent. While I produce more of these pieces for each show, what lasts of each is only the documentation of its existence; these pieces therefore participate “in the temporality that is not defined by the continued existence of something in time and space, but by the constant capacity to be updated, and even enriched as it is discovered by a receiver and being, thus to be conceived as an experience” (5). Through these cups and the performance of their own inevitable collapse, I hope to elicit a response in others that will nudge them towards greater awareness of the urgency needed to mitigate climate change.

Blanc, Nathalie and Barbara L. Benish. Form, Art and the Environment: Engaging in Sustainability Routledge, 2017.

Mika’s art – Mikas Kunst

For more information about Mika’s work, please visit her online.

Lecturer

Sarah Abbott is a Canadian filmmaker and associate professor at the University of Regina. She is currently in the last stages of completing an interdisciplinary doctorate degree in social sciences at Royal Roads University. Her dissertation research and resulting film aim to understand and share knowledge of the sentient intelligence of trees with public and academic audiences. Sarah has been teaching film production for 16 years, and is expanding her teaching areas. She developed and taught the first course dedicated to climate change for the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance in Winter 2020. For more information about Sarah’s work, please visit her online.

Students

Amy Snider is a Masters of Fine Arts student at the University of Regina. Her multimedia sculptural work addresses climate change through conceptual representations of melting glaciers.

Mika Abbott is a photographer and printmaker born in Saskatchwan where she gained her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Regina. The themes of Mika’s photography include climate crisis, identity, and how memory shapes our understanding of ourselves. Recently, Mika has begun punching holes into her photographs and layering them to create a new image and an alternative perception of reality.

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