The reality of climate change is often communicated with numbers and cold hard facts. Climate change artists serve as a bridge, allowing people to see the world in new ways, and encouraging them to come together to create climate solutions. Scientists are not the only ones making noise, artists from all over the world are playing a huge role in helping us connect emotionally with the enormity of the situation.
Lorenzo Quinn is an Italian sculptor whose work is inspired by masters such as Michelangelo, Bernini and Rodin. He is best known for his massive recreations of human hands to convey authentic emotions and abstract concepts.
In 2017, Quinn created a monumental version of his sculpture “Support” for the Climate Change Conference, COP25 in Madrid. The 3-meter installation shows two gigantic hands reaching up from the depths of the Grand Canal to bolster the historical building of the Ca’ Sagredo Hotel. The sculpture reminds viewers of rising sea levels that threaten Venice and all coastal cities around the world. However, it also illustrates the human capacity to save the world when we collaborate and come together.
Singapore-based artist and illustrator Tan Zi uses her talent as a multifaceted visual artist to create sculptures and illustrations of the impacts of ocean pollution. Zi Xi’s most notable work is her large-scale 2016 art installation “Plastic Ocean" made with over 20,000 pieces of refuse that are motionlessly suspended. The illustration seeks to appeal to the morality of the public and shed light on the impact of the culture of convenience.
Born in Cameroon and based in Ghent, Belgium, Pascale Marthine Tayou is one of the leading contemporary artists today. Through his experimental approach to materials, color, and composition, Tayou strives to explore many existential questions, including climate change. One of his famous installations, “Plastic Tree,” features a large tree covered in plastic bags, drawing attention to the issue of plastic waste and its devastating effects on ecosystems. Tayou hopes to encourage new generations of urban Africans to make better choices regarding their environmental future.
Naziha Mestaoui was an acclaimed Tunisian-Belgian artist and architect who lived and worked in Paris. Her approach aimed to connect people to nature through the use of technology.
During the United Nations Climate Conference COP21, Naziha launched the stunning virtual project, “One Beat One Tree.” Spectators to the artwork were granted the opportunity to plant a digital tree that they would be able to see growing on buildings in rhythm with their heart, via a heartbeat sensor that synced with their phones. The computerized tree was then actually planted in Europe, Latin America, Africa, or Asia. So far, 55,000 trees have been planted, with people participating from 135 countries.
The Icelandic–Danish artist Olafur Eliasson strives to jostle the status quo by creating work that prompts viewers to think about their role in globalization and environmentalism. One of Olafur’s climate change-focused pieces is "The Glacier Melt Series 1999/2019.” In 1999, he documented several dozen glaciers in Iceland. Twenty years later, he returned to photograph them again. The photographic series reveals the radical threat to our climate.