University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Elemental Changes

Elemental Changes

January 31, 2018 - July 24, 2018

Biddeford Campus Art Gallery

Featuring Recent Artwork by Stephen Burt, M.F.A., Chair, UNE Department of Arts

The Art Gallery at the UNE Biddeford Campus Ketchum Library presented the collaborative artistic project “Elemental Changes,” a visualization of the climatic changes possible in the era of the Anthropocene. 

Artist’s Statement
Artists, like scientists, engage in research and scholarship. Their lab is the studio. Working with base materials they work at creating visions through close observation molded towards a specific expression, ineffable conglomerations of materials/pigments/papers gathered together for visual effect. The research behind visual literacy is largely taken for granted by many even though it is intrinsically interlinked with good communication and the presentation of information, particularly in the sciences. The arts are an essential and irreplaceable part of conveying knowledge whether it is quantitative data in the form of a graph or picturing the forces and movements present in adverse weather conditions.

The drawings here are my visualization of catastrophic alterations to our environment occurring and forecast due to climate change. These changes that would normally occur over many years have been compressed into single connected images using the Greek elements Earth, Air, Fire, and Water as an organizing principle. The simplicity of these categories allowed me the liberty to explore climate change visually without having to illustrate the vast complexities of the physical science involved. Lines and color represent both the seemingly solid edges of forms and also illustrate lines of force and motion that cannot usually be seen.

Special thanks are due to the Departments of Marine Science, Biology, and Environmental Studies and the Dean’s Office of the College of Arts and Sciences at UNE, all have contributed funds to sponsor this exhibit. This exhibition would not have been possible without the enthusiastic collaboration and input of Charles Tilburg Ph.D., professor of Marine Sciences and associate lecturer Bethany Woodworth Ph.D., Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Minor in Climate Change Studies in the Department of Environmental Studies and Cally Gurley M.L.I.S., Special Collections Librarian and Kris Olson (Environmental Studies ’19), who created a large-scale Tree of Life upon which students and visitors affix paper ‘leaves’ with their thoughts and pledges addressing climate change. Students Jillian Spero, Ally Karriker, Abby Rusling-Flynn, Kady Winsor, Alex Geisser created paintings and drawings to adorn the tree.