According to the Climate Clock, a website that tracks worldwide carbon emissions, we have about twelve years until the effects of climate change are irreversible. With many desperate for change, some are turning to art as activism; the Women’s Caucus for Art of Georgia (WCAGA) will be hosting One Earth/One Chance, an art exhibit of over 100 artists, to stand for an end to climate change.
“Through history, artists have always influenced politics,” Callahan McDonough, WCAGA’s Art + Activism co-chair and curator of the exhibit, told Georgia Voice. “What I have found over and over again is that we as artists create something visually that is evocative – psychologically, emotionally, sometimes spiritually.”
According to McDonough and Pat Del Rey, PhD, the founding director of the Institute for Women’s Studies at the University of Georgia and a self-proclaimed “ecological feminist,” climate change is a direct result of patriarchy, heteronormativity, and capitalism – forces that alienate, exploit, and silence not only women, but the LGBTQ community and other oppressed groups as well.
“Feminism developed initially to analyze why women were being dominated [by men],” Del Rey told Georgia Voice. “Ecological feminism says it’s not just the domination of men over women; it’s that those men in power control everything below them. They control the whole ecological world we live in: human beings, animals, children, nature, plants, the earth. The ecological feminist says that we’re all a part of this dominating hierarchy, that the patriarchy is exploiting all of us.”
Del Rey likened the environmental movement to the grassroots movements for LGBTQ equality: both are matters of survival and fights against erasure.
“The invisibility is so critical,” Del Rey said. “That’s how patriarchy works: privilege is blinding. You’ve got to make [the problem] visible – that’s what the LGBTQ movement has done and that’s what we’re doing now.”
“People don’t realize that it’s their survival at stake,” Del Rey continued. “It’s extreme.”
One Earth/One Chance combats the invisibility and divisibility of patriarchy to bring people together in the name of real change.
“The only thing that has ever changed people is the people, the grassroots [organizers],” McDonough said. “When there’s so much pressure from the people that it’s overrunning even the most conservative [of them], at some point there will be change.”
The free exhibit, which is on display from Feb. 19 to March 30, features art from a diverse array of artists. The featured pieces relate to the artists’ personal impressions, thoughts, and experiences of the beauty of nature or its current destruction.
“You will see in this show a number of pieces that are purely abstract,” McDonough said. “There will be other art that’s more in your face with the ‘F you, climate change!’ [message], and there will even be some art made of nothing but recycled material. It will be very diverse.”
The event will be capped off with a panel of climate experts on March 12 who will discuss more explicitly both the urgency of climate change and the real, doable solutions we can adopt. McDonough says the combination of the emotionality of the art and the reality of the panel will inspire visitors to act.
“We’ve got a really potent formula, because people are coming in to experience the art, and then they’re going to go into the panel discussion and get more succinct information about the urgency of what we’re going through, which is critical; we have about a ten-year window,” McDonough said. “If we don’t do something really dramatic and aggressive now, then we may come to a tipping point that’s out of our control.”
“We’re trying to amplify both the urgency and the solutions,” McDonough continued. “[Climate change] is an emergency, but we really can still lower the temperature and reverse it. My goal is to get us in action.”
One Earth/One Chance will be on exhibit at GSU’s Clarkston Campus (3735 Memorial College Ave. Parking Lot #3) from Feb. 19 to March 30. The opening will last from 6-9pm on the 19th, and the expert panel will be held at the same location on March 12 at 7pm. The opening, exhibit, and panel are all free and open to the public. For more information and to view the list of artists and panelists, visit www.wcaga.org.