Climate change in the Arctic is the inspiration for a three-artist show, Voyage of Discovery, on display at the Washington, DC headquarters of the American Association for the Advancement of Science through May 31, 2014.
Voyage of Discovery, created by DC-based artists Michele Banks, Jessica Beels, and Ellyn Weiss, has its roots in the idea of a journey of scientific exploration. This voyage takes viewers to a polar region where the iconic, seemingly eternal, landscape of ice and snow is in profound and rapid transition due to climate change.
By Michele Banks
The centerpiece of the show is Waning Albedo, a collaborative installations by Banks, Beels, and Weiss. A fiber-based piece mounted on a thirty-foot curved wall, Waning Albedo uses gradual shifts in color and texture to evoke the changing surface of the earth in the Arctic region.
Other pieces in the exhibition look at the changes in the Arctic Ocean ecosystem as the water warms. Jessica Beels contributed a series of sculptures in paper over wire, Invasive Species, based largely on radiolarians, protozoan sea creatures that are considered an important diagnostic indicator of changes in ocean conditions.
Protista Borosilicata, Michele Banks’ 15-foot installation of microscopic sea creatures made largely from lab glassware, depicts changes in the populations of marine protists as a result of ocean warming.
Ellyn Weiss made a series of wax and pigment sculptures called Unidentified Specimens, her imagining of the ambiguous life forms that scientists may discover as they encounter species that had until now been buried for millennia under the ice
The exhibition looks at the changes wrought by climate change in polar regions at a number of levels. Jessica Beels’ In the Balance, looks at the human dimension. A mixed media installation inspired by a traditional boat, the umiak, In the Balance explores the struggles of indigenous populations as they deal with an increasingly unpredictable environment.
Climate change is also having wide-ranging, but less noticeable effects at the microbial level. Culture Dishes, a mixed-media piece by Michele Banks, consisting of watercolor paintings inside glass petri dishes, investigates these more subtle shifts.
Voyage of Discovery is open to the public from 9 am to 6 pm, Monday-Friday, at the AAAS Gallery
(1200 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC).
A video about the show and its creation is here.
The show will reopen from September 11-October 25 at the McLean Project for the Arts in McLean, Virginia.
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