Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Working Earth Day

Jane Kim paints her mural at
The Laboratory of Ornithology
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

I was in New York City for the first Earth Day, my friends and I wandered through the crowds at Central Park in Manhattan, and we listened to speeches.  It was 1970, and I was an art student at The Cooper Union.  Now, it is 45 years later, and time for more speeches, - but now it is getting to be more of a concern that will effect everyone on the planet, not just some hippies out in the park for a day.

James Hansen at MCC, April 2015

We had a visit from James Hansen, and was he ever working Earth Day! His concentration was remarkable, and as we listened, we started to think about what we can do now to deal with climate change, and the ongoing eradication of species as a result - that is happening all across the globe.  It is time for some old fashioned grass roots activism, - if we want to leave a legacy, - and what better way than to begin to clean up the mess we have made collectively.

Jane Kim giant paper collage mural opening soon in Baltimore

People have to recognize what we have and what we stand to lose by inactivity.  Now it seems to begin to matter to a whole new generation of students, some of which I now teach at Rochester Institute of Technology.  In celebration of Earth Day 2015, I have as my guest, the artist Jane Kim, who is creating remarkable murals  all about the inter-relationships of the natural world.

Jane Kim speaks at  R.I.T. on Earth Day, 2015

Jane Kim is a terrific artist and so well-spoken about her chosen career, which is art based on science - so climate change is of concern to her too.  She is a model for what my students aspire to become.  She is engaged not only by the mural being painted at Cornell but also by other projects around the country.  During this summer I will go down to Baltimore to see her new murals at the aquarium.  Her underwater scenes are so dramatic and tactile ( owing to the fact that they are made out of layers of cut and pasted papers ) yet these murals are also very colorful and true to life.

Art and nature go hand in hand, and before I came to teach at R.I.T. - these were the subjects that I paid attention to.  I am inspired by what Jane Kim does.  She brings her skill and passion to her portrayals of big animals and birds that represent species past and present.  We are so thankful for artists like Jane Kim who capture our attention, and make us care a great deal for the flora and fauna that surround us. Since we are part of nature, we owe a debt, and a commitment to keep the environment safe for generations to come.  We celebrate Earth Day!

Jane Kim's mural at Mono Lake