Detroit’s new art exhibit tackles the climate crisis with hope

Interwoven Ecologies is a multimedia collage by Leslie Sobel. Image: Jennifer Patselas.

By Gabrielle Ahlborn

With artworks ranging from giant mobiles to miniature paintings, artists across the country are collaborating to address the climate crisis with a new exhibit in Metro Detroit.

Environmentally Speaking is a three-part exhibition that aims to take the despair out of climate conversations and ask us to think about the legacy we want to leave. It opens Sunday at the Janice Charach Gallery Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan, and will run through March 3.

The project includes a gallery of visual pieces in a variety of mediums, a live dance performance, and community engagement pieces that invite the public to participate in writing letters to the Earth.

“This show is about hope, love and resilience,” said co-curator Leslie Sobel. “This is not a show saying the world is doomed and you should just crawl under your bed and hide. This is a show about positivity and how the solutions to these issues are rooted in the hope and action.

Environmentally Speaking was inspired by the artists’ experiences and the book “All We Can Save” by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson.

The Greenhouse Gas mobile was created by Laura Earle. Image: Jennifer Patselas.

“I held my first grandson, and immediately I was like, we have to do better,” said co-curator Laura Earle.

Earle, an artist based in metro Detroit, was drawn into climate advocacy through her previous work that addressed social inequality.

“I encountered some of the food deserts we have here in Detroit, and I realized immediately that there was a huge overlap between social justice issues and environmental issues,” she said.

Many of the 14 self-selected artists are part of Earle and Sobel’s eco-feminist book club.

“We started meeting every week, reading a chapter of ‘All We Can Save’ and discussing it and in the process we looked at each other and said it was a show,” Sobel said.

The curators have invited all interested artists to present their work.

“It’s like a contemporary version of a Parisian living room where anyone interested can be in that space and have these conversations, and then you can see the influence of those conversations on the work,” Earle said.

The solar cell painting is by Tracey Easthope. Image: Tracey Easthope.

Tracey Easthope, a resident of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is one of the designers included in the exhibit. Her paintings focus on celebrating climate solutions with the aim of bringing joy into the future.

“I started drawing these costumes and I imagined people wearing them in parades with music and bands and having fun talking about all the solutions we already know,” she said. .

The exhibit encourages people of all ages to participate and start conversations about positive climate impacts.

“The idea was to invite people to be part of this celebration of world transformation,” Easthope said.

Environmentally Speaking opens Sunday at the Janice Charach Gallery Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan. The exhibition is free and open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and ends on March 3. The Tu B’shvat Seder dance performance is from 6 to 9 p.m. on Sundays and costs $18 a ticket.

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