New feature: Good News / Bad News

12_The_Witness_Tree_Monastra_120915_3313Mobile camper home smashed by Hurricane Isaac, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, USA, 2012

Witness Tree Blog Update: I am archiving my Witness Tree blog (now located HERE) and, instead of keeping a blog, I will use this News section to post information about Witness Tree related exhibits and events.

New Feature: I am starting a new bi-monthly feature on this News page entitled: Good News / Bad News, where I will highlight a few positive climate stories, articles or photos as well as some articles about climate and environmental concerns. If you want to receive the Good and Bad News as well as my quarterly newsletter – sign up via my Contact Page. 

Good News / Bad News / # 1

For this first installment – It is nearly impossible to not start with the obvious Bad News regarding the devastation caused by the recent hurricanes – first Harvey, then Irma with Jose not far behind. But within the literal and metaphorical darkness created in the wake of these storms, there have been moments of brightness. Let’s start with the …

Good News:

  • For you animal lovers out there, The Atlantic and CNN ran stories about people rescuing and caring for Harvey-impacted pets – their own and others. And in Florida, residents came together to  save some local manatees and stranded dolphins.
  • Although this Texas Tribune article is heartwarming for its focus on how Houstonians helped rescue one another – there is a sobering video embedded in the story about why Houston’s floods are on the rise. Which brings us to more…

Bad News:

  • Climate change is creating “The Perfect Storm” conditions for hurricanes like Harvey as outlined in this article by scientist Dr. Michael E. Mann, professor at Penn State.
  • And despite the strong scientific evidence that as the planet continues to warm, we will likely experience more intense hurricanes with higher storm surges, there are some in the current administration who would rather not talk about it, let alone acknowledge the connection to climate change: click HERE to read the article from Monday’s New York Times.

If you know of a recent news item or related climate story or image that would be suitable for this feature – send me a note with a description of the article and a link to it (or a video or photo/s) to cam [at]carolynmonastra.com

 

Current / Upcoming Exhibits and Events: 

  • Selections from the Solutions chapter of this project are included in the current exhibit  –Being well: in search of utopia? at The Old Stone House in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit is up until 10/8, and on 10/1 from 2-4pm, I will be doing a “Postcards for Politicians” community workshop whereby participants will create handmade postcards address their concerns about the health of our environment and communities to local and national legislators. In exchange for hanging a postcard on the live “Witness Tree,” visitors can take home a print from my project. Come take action and make your voice count! (see the video on my About page to get a sense for what this event will be like.)
  • October 14th marks the opening of a solo exhibit of The Witness Tree at The Bottleworks Gallery in Johnstown, PA. If you are in the area, please join me for an artist’s talk and then the opening reception (12 – 3pm). The exhibit will run until Nov. 17th.
  • Mid-October through Mid-November, I will be participating in a collaborative climate residency sponsored by the wonderful Human Impacts Institute in midtown Manhattan. I will be programming 3 days of the programming (Nov 1 -3rd) with the theme Wasted. Stay tuned for more details and a list of other artists and related events.

 

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Previous Exhibits, Events & Publications

2016 – early 2017

Commonweal magazine published a feature on The Witness Tree in March

In April, artist and activist Melissa Fleming published an interview with me on her blog: The Weather Gamut. I’d like to thank Melissa for asking some probing questions that reminded me of the reasons why I do what I do and why I need to do it even more now.

An artist’s proof of a Witness Tree book I plan to publish in 2018 was selected to be part of the INFOCUS Juried Exhibition of Self-Published Books at The Phoenix Museum of Art. The exhibit was up from December 2016 – April 2017.

January 2017 – I had work in a group exhibit focusing on car culture in the US at Susan Eley Fine Art, New York City.

I had work in the Small Works Salon –  a group exhibit at Station Independent Projects. in New York City in December.

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Work from the Witness Tree project was included in an exhibit about climate change that was installed in Chapultepec Park for the 2016 C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City in November 2016 – February 2017. The exhibit was curated by the Lucie Foundation. 

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For this year’s Climate Week, I was part of a panel discussion titled:  Climate Change: Art, Design and Activism” at Civic Hall on September 22nd. I was joined by other Climate Reality Leaders: Tara DePorte, Harriet Shugarman, Simone Rothman and Melissa Fleming. It was a wonderful event with a very engaged audience. I met so many interesting activists and concerned citizens. Thanks to those who attended!

At the Society of Photographic Education (SPE) Northeast Conference (Oct 28-29th in NYC)  I gave a presentation about a recent COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) course that I taught last Spring with professor Manuela Paterna Patrucco and her class at Universidad de La Salle in Mexico City.

On February 9, 2016, I gave a presentation entitled, The Artist as Activist at Nassau Community College as part of their Art Forum series.

I was pleased to have my work selected by curator Katherine Gressel to be featured on the website: L’oeil de la Photographie. 

In April I attended the Blue Earth Alliance’s Collaborations for Cause conference in Seattle. The two-day event was packed with engaging presentations by many talented photographers including Benjamin Drummond + Sara Joy Steele, Kristie McLean, Greg Constantine and many others. It was exciting to be in the company of so many other like-minded photographers, environmentalists, and concerned citizens. I look forward to collaborating with some of them on future projects. Thanks to the PhotoWings organization you can watch some of the presentations and see interviews with some of the speakers.

In March I went to Las Vegas for the annual Society of Photographic Education national conference. While there I took a side trip to see the Hoover Dam and see what the state of Lake Mead which has been deeply affected by several years of drought. Even though there had been heavy snows in the Sierras this past winter – the water level was still about 30 feet below its normal levels.

2015

In late Autumn, I was  honored to be part of a podcast discussion with photographers Ed Kashi and Greg Kahn entitled, From Photojournalism to Fine Art, Three Photographers Document Climate Change. The discussion was moderated by Allan Weitz and produced by John Harris for the B&H Photo Podcast series. Please take a listen when you have a chance!

From November 30 – December 5, 2015, I was in Paris for events and workshops being held in conjunction with the COP21 – United Nations Global Climate change talks. You can read more about my experiences there on my Witness Tree blog.

From November 5, 2015 – January 10, 2016, work from The Witness Tree will be included in the exhibit: Evidence and Advocacy at the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University.

On November 8, 2015, I gave a Witness Tree presentation and workshop at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, Connecticut.

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When I first visited the Mattatuck this summer, I was very excited to see this little Frederick Church painting of icebergs since I was motivated to begin The Witness Tree after observing the icebergs that calved from melting glaciers in Iceland

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In September, prints from The Witness Tree were exhibited at The International Permaculture Conference in London. I was pleased to be able to attend the conference and hear from and meet so many engaged individuals who are working to make this world a more sustainable place through permaculture ideas and practices.

In August, I learned I was a semi-finalist for the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize. I feel very honored to have been among such good company with many other outstanding projects. Congratulations to Michel Huneault, for his prize-winning story Post Mégantic.

Over the summer, several pieces from The Witness Tree were included in Caught on Film, an exhibit of work by six female photographers at Susan Eley Fine Art in New York City.

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As part of Earth Day celebrations in April, 11 Witness Tree photos were in a 3-person exhibit entitled Our Earth, Our World at The Abrazo Inferno Gallery in New York City.

My photograph of a woman collecting and cleaning plastic bags from the Nairobi River received a Juror’s Award at the Environmental Photography Exhibition in Golden, Colorado.

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In early March I attended the  Society for Photographic Education National Conference in New Orleans where I was proud to have three of my Witness Tree photos selected for an accompanying exhibit of SPE members’ work at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

On March 26th, I gave a presentation entitled Photography and Climate Activism at the Balance-Unbalance Conference in Tempe, Arizona. It was an inspiring environmental conference attended primarily by artists, musicians, and scientists from around the world that are eager to work together using their creative talents to enact positive environmental change.

2014

I created a Live Witness Tree event in Tompkins Square Park in New York City in September. This audience-engagement event was created in conjunction with the Human Impacts Institute’s Creative Call to Climate Action. Participants created over 50 postcards that were sent to politicians to draw attention to environmental issues. In exchange, they were given a small photograph from The Witness Tree to take home as a reminder of our need to work together to fight global climate change and improve our local communities.

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If you would like to schedule a Witness Tree audience-engagement event at your school or in your community, email me via the Contact page.

As part of the Climate Convergence Conference on September 20, I participated in an engaging panel discussion: Visual Realities of Climate Change: Food Realities and Landscape at the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Spaces, NYC.

On September 21, along with 400,000 other concerned citizens, I walked the streets of NYC for the People’s Climate March. Needless to say, it was an empowering event.

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In August, for the CliMates symposium in NYC, I presented a workshop about Art and Activism with college students from around the world.

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Other 2014 exhibits

Creative Climate Awards Exhibit, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, New York City

The Witness Tree, Consulate General of France, New York City

Jerseyscapes, Visual Arts Gallery New Jersey City University, Jersey City, NJ

Also of Note in 2014

In October 2014, I headed west to Nevada for the Center for Art + Environment Conference at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno. It was an amazing opportunity to meet other artists and activists as well as scientists and journalists all concerned with the state of our natural world. I used the opportunity to photograph the effects of climate change in this region, primarily the drought in Central California and Nevada too. Things looked bad. The riverbeds and reservoirs, like this one at Folsom Lake in California, were all but dried up.

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One farmer I spoke with, Tom Renner, was trying to keep up good spirits as he talked about planning for upcoming Halloween activities at his farm, but he was clearly disheartened by his alfalfa crop’s very low yield the past few years.

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A bright spot on this trip was meeting Newton and Helen Harrison, long-time environmental artists and activists. I was able to visit their latest project Force Majeur at Sagehen Creek Research Station in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, just north of Truckee, California. Their team was planting saplings there to see how they will survive our changing climate. I look forward to a return visit there in a few years to see how the project and plants are progressing.

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