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Jill Pelto

The Tipping Point: Advancing Climate Change Communication & Expression


The Rockland Center for the Arts (RoCA) will be having a panel discussion on Climate Change, May 12, 2018, with leading authorities seeking answers to important questions regarding climate change communication. The program will draw on RoCA’s “Tipping Point: Artists Address Climate Change” exhibition (scheduled for March 25-May 25, 2018) as a touch point for a timely public conversation among thought leaders from science, art, and the humanities. The primary goal of the program is to generate insights into how these fields can benefit from each other in communicating critical climate change information. 

IMAGE SHOWN: By Jill Pelto, scientist and artist, titled Landscape of Change, based on her field research in Antarctica.

The recently published National Climate Assessment is the latest comprehensive scientific study to confirm the facts about rising carbon levels and their impact on our environment.  https://science2017.globalchange.gov/   Despite the fact that the National Climate Assessment is the product of hundreds of experts within the government and academia and peer-reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences, its stark findings are frequently doubted by policymakers and remedial action is being delayed, with likely catastrophic consequences:


Scientific data is essential but thus far insufficient in motivating a concerted response to the climate crisis by our national leaders.  What insights can other disciplines such as the visual arts and humanities provide to advance public understanding and motivate effective action in response to important scientific knowledge?   

The stakes of the issues to be considered are high. Learning how to improve climate change communication could save our planet from irreversible environmental devastation. To that end how do we communicate more effectively about the challenge of climate change?   What can people from different disciplines (e.g., science, art, the humanities, journalism) learn from each other to improve their ability to communicate about climate change?   What is the unique role of art in elevating human consciousness regarding environmental challenges?   How can the critical thinking that is at the core of the humanities inform us in addressing these questions?   

Leaders on this panel include:

Suzana Camargo is the Executive Director of the Columbia Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate (Columbia Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate) at the University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. Ms. Camargo is one of the world’s leading scholars on the impacts of climate change.

Lisa Fernandez is the Associate Director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC). She oversees programs and outreach at the YPCCC, building a global network of climate communication scholars and practitioners. Previously, she worked in sustainable development in the US and Latin America. She has served as a consultant to the United Nations Development Programme, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the World Bank.  Lisa co-authored Toward a New Consciousness: Values to Sustain Human and Natural Communities and Institutionalizing Sustainability in Higher Education.

Daniel Wolff is the author of The Fight for Home: How (Parts of) New Orleans Came Back. His books include Grown-up Anger: Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and the Calumet Massacre of 1913, How Lincoln Learned to Read, 4th of July/Asbury Park, and You Send Me: The Life and Times of Sam Cooke, which won the Ralph J. Gleason Award for Best Music Book of 1995. His journalism has appeared in Vogue and the Nation and his poetry in the Paris Review and Partisan Review

J Henry Fair is an American photographer, environmental activist, and co-founder of the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York. Through large-scale aerial photo shoots and accompanying documentary research, Fair’s "Industrial Scars" project brings our attentions to the tragic unseen views of the effects created by the increasing demand of human consumerism, rapidly leading to the degradation of our planet.  All of us are living unsustainably, but with a little effort and luck, these limitations could be overcome, ensuring a secure future.  The images are beautiful but reveal a hidden secret.  Fair is committed to reveal the evidence of the devastating costs of our choices on this planet.  Topics of particular interest include the global warming process, environmental pollution, and habitat destruction—all of which are illustrated in Fair's photographs.

Aurora Robson is a multi-media artist known for her work intercepting the waste stream. “Deeply concerned about the natural environment, Robson sees herself as an eco-activist who uses her art to address urgent issues poetically, not polemically.” (Art in America magazine Oct. 2009)​.  She raises awareness of our enormous plastic waste problem and the detrimental effects on our planet. Her work helps us recognize the monumental effects of plastic waste on distant ecosystems and provides strategies towards intercepting the waste stream and upcycling discarded plastics into new objects.  Robson's work has been featured in Sculpture Magazine, WIRED, Art & Antiques, and the cover of Green Building + Design. She is a recipient of the Pollock Krasner Grant, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture, a TED/Lincoln Re-Imagine Prize and a National Endowment for the Arts Art Work Grant. 

In 2008, Robson founded Project Vortex, a not-for-profit international collective of artists, designers and architects that strives to inspire others to rethink and reinvent plastic waste in ways that promote creative stewardship of our global waterways. In 2013, she gave a Ted talk at TedxPeachtree: "Trash+Love" introducing "Sculpture+Intercepting the Waste Stream."  

Jill Pelto is exhibiting work in “Tipping Point” that is informed by her life experiences as an artist and a scientist, currently concluding her Masters of Science at the University of Maine in field research in the Antarctica Ice Sheet, New Zealand and the Falkland Islands.  Her love of nature and wilderness drives her to use creativity to communicate information about extreme environmental issues with a broad audience. Jill sees nature as a work of art, and the origin of her observational skills uses her academic training and field research in Antarctica to fuel her artwork.  She creates glaciogenic art with the goal of communicating scientific knowledge through art.

RoCA will be presenting three distinct exhibitions that bring environmental issues to greater public awareness. “Tippng Point” features groundbreaking artists whose works reveal urgent truths beneath scarred but beautiful surfaces. They have something vital to communicate about our environment and inform devastating conditions such as fracking, industrial scars and climate change.  Participating artists include:  J Henry Fair, David Maisel, Alison Mortisugo, Richard Parrish and Jill Pelto. Aurora Robson will exhibit in Aqueous Remains, artworks from plastics saved from the waste stream.  In Quotidian Metamorphisis, Jaynie Crimmins shreds and sews junk mail to reveal fragile eco-systems. 

“Tipping Point: Artists Address Climate Change,” “Aqueous Remains,” and “Quotidian Metamorphisis” exhibitions are on view from March 25-May 25, 2018 at RoCA in West Nyack, NY.

RoCA is the largest multi-arts center in the Lower Hudson Valley and is dedicated to creating and promoting art through its School for The Arts, exhibitions, workshops, literary and performing arts events, Summer Arts Day Camp, and outreach programs.

The Tipping Point: Advancing Climate Change Communication & Expression panel discussion will be held May 12, 2018, at 7:00 pm.   Free to the general public.  For more information contact:  Rockland Center for the Arts, 845-358-0877, info@rocklandartcenter.org or visit www.rocklandartcenter.org .  Rockland Center for the Arts is located at 27 S Greenbush Rd., West Nyack, NY 10994. 

 RoCA’s programs are made possible, in part, with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.