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Artists visually address climate crisis in Clemson exhibition

The threat of climate change and environmental harm threatens the minds of many people worldwide as temperatures rise and polar caps melt. Although activists and politicians often display the most concern about climate change, artists tend to express their thoughts and activism through a medium of their own.  

Tucked within the first floor of Strode Tower, Clemson’s Architecture, Arts, and Humanities Dean’s Gallery presents an exhibition called “Natural History/Critical Condition” that provides visual artist commentary on the climate crisis and the reality that humanity must face.  

Organized by Sydney A. Cross, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Art, and sponsored by the Department of Art, “Natural History/Critical Condition” illustrates global warming, deforestation, natural disruptions caused by humans, animal extinction, and other factors that contribute to climate change.  

“I organized the Portfolio Exchange, Natural History: Critical Condition, to be exhibited at the International Southern Graphics Council Conference at Columbia College in Chicago, Ill.” said Cross. “The artists that participated were chosen for their vested interest in the conditions of our planet.” 

The art presented through this collaboration is meant to encourage the viewers to take action in the fight against climate destruction worldwide.  

The exhibit includes twenty four well established artists including Sydney Cross and Lynne Allen.  

The piece by Lynne Allen, “Endangered,” presents a gloomy demonstration of modern animal endangerment.  

“The animals in Endangered are all on the endangered species list, including the human with the gun on the lower right because we are systematically ruining our planet and killing each other off at the same time,” Allen said.  

Her art has been exhibited nationally and internationally. 

“The man standing on the rhino says a lot without bringing attention to it,” said Allen. “There is sometimes hidden sinister humor in my work. The tree the animals are suspended on is the tree of life that comes from indigenous culture.”  

The lithograph “Update” created by Cross also illustrates a deeper meaning.  

“”Update” is a hand printed lithograph that includes current population information about rhinoceros which is printed in the fluted germanica font which Durer used for his image,” Cross explains. “I also have introduced a soldier type figure running with a grenade in one hand as the figure turns skeletal.  This represents for me man’s inevitable self-destruction fueled by the constant insatiable selfishness of his actions.” 

This “Natural History/Critical Condition” exhibition can only be viewed in the CAAH Dean’s Gallery up until December 3rd, 2021.  

The included artists: Lynne Allen, Dale Clifford, Carmon Colangelo and Ashley Colangelo, Syd Cross, Georgia Deal, Maggie Denk, Bill Fisher, Diane Fox, Adele Henderson, Pat Hunsinger, Anita Jung, Cima Katz, Kumi Korf, Robert Lazuka, Pam Longobardi, Angela Oates, Dennis O’Neil, Cynthia Osborne, Andy Rubin, Joe Sanders, Jewel Shaw, Aaron Wilson, and Anderson Wrangle. 

This article was written by a student of ENGL 2310: Introduction to Journalism, which is taught by Mike Pulley.

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