Mana Contemporary Presents ‘Implied Scale: Confronting the Enormity of Climate Change’
The new event and exhibition series discussed the ongoing climate crisis through art, panels and thought-provoking discussions.
In the spirit of its ongoing concern for the future of the planet, Mana Contemporary presented Implied Scale: Confronting the Enormity of Climate Change from April-July, 2021, an exhibition focused on motivating mobilization toward reversing the climate crisis. This special exhibit also included a series of virtual and in-person events featuring the world’s leading scientific minds on climate change.
Implied Scale featured the works of five artists—Catherine Chalmers, Zaria Forman, Jeff Frost, Ted Kim, and James Prosek— who not only aim to convey the magnitude of the earth’s current climate crisis but also to communicate the depth of the issue in ways that inspire action. These artists impart the gravity of the situation and also inspire one’s innate awe at the complexity of the planet’s ecosystems and arouse a commitment to change without invoking feelings of complete despair.
The artists and works that were on view for the exhibition included:
- Catherine Chalmers – the engineer and artist’s in-depth study of ant colonies has resulted in a series of fascinating films that illustrate both their successful cooperation in action, and also the destruction they incur when the species turn against each other. The ants are a visionary metaphor of society, showing collaboration that works towards the greater good and the dystopian possibilities that may appear when compassion and communication break down.
- Zaria Forman – large-scale pastel drawings of glaciers allowed viewers to experience the wonder of these massive icebergs, while simultaneously apprehending what their thaw will eventually mean on a global scale. The immersive installation highlighted Forman’s documentation of her travels to the most remote regions of the world, making grave comments on climate change.
- Jeff Frost – Artist Jeff Frost trained as a firefighter to create “California on Fire” (2019) a film that is a daunting consideration of the recent California wildfires and uses the five stages of grief to organize the chaotic and dismal effects of climate change into an examination of what it means to experience loss.
- Ted Kim – The Alaska-based illustrator offered a created on-site, large-scale mural over 150 feet in length. Kim’s drawing style, influenced by comics, lends a lighthearted aesthetic to the themes that are often prevalent in his work: an envisioned, dystopian future of a world decimated by environmental decay that nonetheless retains elements of faith in human cooperation and ingenuity.
- James Prosek – A site-specific installation of murals and works on paper in the artist’s signature silhouette style transformed the lobby of Mana Contemporary Jersey City. The murals encouraged contemplative meditation on biodiversity, nurturing one’s sense of interconnectedness with the natural world while also questioning one’s mortal desire to name, classify, and contain.
Throughout the run of Implied Scale: Confronting the Enormity of Climate Change, Mana Contemporary hosted a series of virtual panels and conversations by these and other artists, along with scientists, environmental activists, and public officials. Additional events and community programs also took place at Mana’s Chicago and Miami locations. The events were meant to stimulate dialogue and insight real-world changes. Confirmed events included:
- Actors from Witness (April 7) – This panel focused on how artists allow viewers to experience landscapes and nature imagery they may not be able to visit in person and, with the thoughts of climate experts, may become inspired to move from passive witness to active agents of change. The discussion was moderated by Robin Bell, Professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, with artists Zaria Forman & Jeff Frost and Caroline Juang, atmospheric Science and Modern and Future Climate PhD candidate at Columbia University.
- Current Effects (April 15) – A discussion on the effects of climate change on existing ecosystems and how artists and scientists help make viewers aware of their larger, more holistic connection to the world. The panel featured artists Catherine Chalmers & James Prosek with Ruth DeFries, Professor of Ecology and Sustainable Development at Columbia University, and moderated by Sandra Goldmark, Associate Professor of Professional Practice in Theatre and Director of Campus Sustainability and Climate Action at Barnard College.
- Resource Use and Reuse (April 19) – A focus around the Mana Contemporary Chicago community, this discussion highlighted the circular economy and how artists and organizations have been taking creative, sustainable approaches to material use and reuse. The panel featured Barbara Koenen, Founder & Executive Director, Creative Chicago Resource Exchange; Ryan Jackson, Managing Director, Open Books, and Eleanor Ray, Executive Director, The WasteShed; moderated by Claire Pentecost, Artist and Professor in the Department of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
- Climate Scientists, Culture and Local Government – The Frontline of Combating Climate Change (April 22) – This panel brought together local leaders, leading climate scientists, urban planners, and artists to discuss how working together, at the local level, can help to plan for, and address key, issues such as education of skeptical populations, resiliency measures, and response planning. Moderated by Mana Group’s Chief of Staff Theodore Ward, the panel included: Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop; Miami Mayor Francis Suarez; Katharine Hayhoe, Climate Scientists and Professor of Political Science, Texas Tech; Bronson Johnson, Director of Infrastructure Delivery, Sidewalk Labs and Prof. John E. Fernández, Director of Environmental Solutions Initiative, MIT.
- Community Climate Day (April 24) – Mana Contemporary Jersey City welcomed community members to join for a socially distanced, in-person event that included a view of the exhibition, a natural dyes workshop, a Birds of Prey experience alongside food, drinks and music.