By Kallan Benson

Green Tips: Use Your Art to Support the Climate Movement

Green Tips | August 31, 2018

The science on climate change is clear: 97% or more of actively-publishing climate scientists agree that human activity is accelerating global warming. However, citing record-breaking heat and rising sea levels is rarely enough to convince climate change-skeptics of reality. In 2005, the prominent environmentalist and author Bill McKibben wrote an op-ed on the importance of artistic engagement in the climate movement. For McKibben, art had a unique capacity for emotional impact lacking in scientific and technical terms articulating the dangers of climate change: “We can register what is happening with satellites and scientific instruments but can we register it in our imaginations, the most sensitive of all our devices?

Art has long been a force for positive change and a central part of social justice movements. Now, art is playing an essential role in conveying the ecological, social, and economic repercussions of climate change, as well as in building support for the climate movement.

Using these tips, you can channel your artistic skills toward demanding action on climate change…

Take inspiration from successful climate artists. Read about jaw-dropping climate change art like Murray Frederick’s Vanity, a photographic series documenting the placement of mirrors in landscapes from the Lake Eyre salt flats, and teenager Kallan Benson’s butterfly project, a giant parachute with the central image of a monarch butterfly surrounded by signatures and personal messages from thousands of kids representing Generation Z’s call for climate action. Follow blog posts from Artists & Climate Change to hear about the latest innovations in climate-related art, such as the 7-meter boat made out of recycled plastic as part of a pro-recycling and plastic waste reduction initiative called the Flipflopi Project.  

Attend a climate-inspired showcase or performance. Climate artists put on various events — exhibitions, performances, music festivals and more. Check out Arctic Cycle’s events that feature guest speakers, work sessions and group exercises.

Participate in a climate art-build. People’s Climate Movement and its partners are holding several art-builds across New York City in preparation for their national Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice Action this month. People’s Puppets will host Rise several art-builds in Gowanus, Brooklyn. If there isn’t a climate art-build planned in your area, you can organize your own! Identify a space, set the time and date, gather some household materials, and assemble a committed team of family, friends, co-workers, and community members to create artwork together either in preparation for a specific event or in general support of the climate movement.

Make your own banners and signs. Take a look at some of the best sign ideas from past People’s Climate Marches to get inspiration for clever slogans and powerful images. Consider what compels you about the climate movement and translate your passion into a visual representation. You can use simple materials like permanent markers and cardboard. Check out these additional tips for making the best protest sign.

Use the Internet to your advantage. Make a social media account dedicated to your climate-related artwork (see scientist and artist Jill Pelto’s @GlaciogenicArt for an example). Pair your art with popular hashtags like #actonclimate to amplify your message. Or, make a Youtube channel to produce and publish videos encouraging people to get involved in the climate movement; find examples of mobilizing videos from major environmental organizations, Greenpeace, and The Years Project.

Put together a climate-inspired playlist. More musicians are taking up their instruments in the hopes of amplifying the demand for climate action. Peruse online suggestions for the climate-inspired music and share out your favorites. Or, compose your own climate music!

Turn your belongings into climate action ambassadors. Add climate action pins and stickers to book bags, purses, and wallets. Buy climate-creative alternatives to regular products, such as Endangered Species Condoms.

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