“Unlike the scientist, we artists have the freedom to weave facts, opinions, thoughts, emotion and color all together. We can instill passion and motivate change. That is our palette.” — Visual artist Franke James
Toronto artist Franke James is doing great work both in expressing her concern and understanding in her colourful and insightful visual essays about climate change but also as a teacher of others in workshops for young artists — Six Tools to Make Climate Change Art.
Artists are desperately needed to help us understand the impacts of climate change at an emotional level and to inspire action. Information and knowledge are not nearly enough. As Franke wisely notes:
“Think of this: If any one of us stands up and tells a group an idea we have, it may spread — or it may disappear into the ether. A far more effective way to make an idea spread is to give it ‘tangible form’.”
Biologists tell us that we are shaped by our evolutionary heritage to discount threats both distant in time and space. That is why we mostly don’t act when disasters occur in foreign lands but quickly help a neighbour or friend. And it is one of the reasons why we are not reacting to current and future threats of climate change. [Almost everyone has forgotten that the leaders of every country in the world promised to tackle climate change at 1992 Earth Summit in Rio 15 years ago last June.]
That’s why we desperately need art in all its wondrous diversity to help us perceive climate change as a real and present danger to each of us, our families and our future descendants.
“By creating climate change art our influence can stretch far beyond the boundaries of our personal circle.”