Climate change art exhibit brings awareness to Waco

Liesje Powers | Multimedia Editor

By Brooke Hill | News Editor

The second annual Climate Change Art exhibit is currently being held at the Waco Winery, hosted by Waco Friends of Peace/Climate, through Sept. 29.

The exhibit was open to artwork from everybody. They received submissions from a diverse pool of professionals, amateurs and even students, Northcutt said.

Alan Northcutt, director of Waco Friends of Peace/Climate, said one primary goal of the organization is to increase awareness of climate change and to coordinate educational events. He said the idea of doing an art show came to him last year.

“Our main priority in the art was addressing the issue of climate change — that was our top criteria on the judging, too,” Northcutt said. “We were more concerned about addressing the topic than the artistic skill — that figured in of course when we did judging, but we wanted to get as much participation from Waco as we could.”

The judging panel consisted of a professional artist, Northcutt and another activist at a reception held Saturday at the winery. The first place winner was awarded $1,000, second $600 and third $400. There was also a people’s choice winner that was awarded $400. Northcutt said the reception Saturday where the judging took place brought about 100 people together to come see the exhibit. After the judging, he said there was a powerpoint about climate change to add an educational component.

“If you study the climate science and listen to what climate scientists are saying, climate change is really an emergency,” Northcutt said. “It’s a crisis. We have a very short period of time where we can continue to emit greenhouse gases. This comes mostly from burning of fossil fuels. We have to act very fast.”

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere, according to NASA.

Northcutt said he feels that people don’t typically view climate change as an emergency.

“If you look at lists of issues you’re most concerned about for elections and stuff, climate change isn’t near the top in this area,” Northcutt said. “We wanted to raise awareness and hopefully people would begin to realize that it is an emergency, that we have to act individually. We have to get our politicians to take action on federal, state, local scales. We want to increase awareness of the problem and of the severity of it so that people beyond just learning about it, take actions themselves.”

Northcutt said there was an educational component to accompany every piece in the exhibit.

“One thing we have that’s probably different from a lot of art exhibits is … a curators note below multiple of the pieces of art that gave a little blurb about the science that that dealt with,” Northcutt said. “If the piece had something to do with sea level rise, then I wrote something about the rate of sea level rise that’s happening now and what the projection is for 2100. So we tried to include some science actually hanging with the art,”

Local artist Susan Sistrunk took home the first place prize for one of her pieces on the Moai at Easter Island. She said she created two different pieces about Easter Island a while back and thought they would be a good fit for the show. Her nod to climate change was rising sea levels by the island.

“The Moai is just something I’m fascinated by,” Sistrunk said. “I’m fascinated by ancient cultures … With both pieces, I put water in there, and I just felt like it needed to be there. But at the same time I told myself it was a very surreal picture because I said to myself ‘Well Susan, there’s no water around the Moai on Easter Island.’ So I guess it was just a surreal artistic interpretation. When the climate change show rolled around, I didn’t know if I had anything that would fit. Then I stumbled across an article in the New York Times about the Moai on Easter Island actually being threatened by flooding, and they are going underwater. It gave me chills. It was just meant to be, I think.”