2022 events + exhibits + more!


The Puffin Foundation awarded me a grant to assist with creating a select group of works focusing on the 99 most climate-impacted birds as delineated in the Audubon Society’s 2019 Climate Report. I plan to finish with these unique images in mid-2023. Until them I am keeping them under-wraps (hidden under my wings?) but will share them publicly when the set  is complete. This special set is part of my larger Divergence of Birds project about how species are being impacted by climate change. Click here to see a portfolio of a small selection of the project work and click here to read the project statement. Plus read the bottom paragraphs of this 2022 news section for more details about my plans for the project.

I received an honorable mention in the Zeke Award for Systematic Change for photos from the Solutions chapter of my global climate project, The Witness Tree. Some of this work was featured in the Spring issue of Zeke magazine and was also highlighted at the Photoville Festival in Dumbo Brooklyn in June.


In addition to having my work in Zeke magazine, the Parks Stewardship Forum included a portfolio of ten photos from my Witness Tree project – some of which I had never shown publicly including this one of the Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam, below.


From April – June, 2022, work from Divergence of Birds was included in the multi-site exhibit: “Brooklyn Utopias: Along the Canal” curated by Katherine Gressel.


2021 – happenings + events

In June, 2021 I had a very productive two-week residency at The Rensing Center in Pickens, SC working on my conceptual eco-project, Divergence of Birds, about the threat of species extinction. In addition to photographing over two dozen cutouts of climate-impacted birds, I met some engaging botanists and birders in the Pickens’ area who shared their knowledge of local floral and fauna. I took my time driving down and back through the Blue Ridge Mountains, seeing real birds migrating and photographing more paper cutouts of birds along the way. I also got the chance to reconnect with friends near Johnson City, Tennessee (where I had lived for the summer of 1992 ) whom I had not seen in nearly 2 decades!

I was delighted to have my work included in the exhibit, Magic, at Metaphor Projects in Brooklyn: it felt like a sign the world was opening back up. Attendees at the opening seemed very excited to be seeing art in person again.

In the Fall, I started renting a studio at Trestle Art Space in the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn. I participated in the Gowanus Open Studios event in October that was jam-packed with mask-wearing visitors. It was a chance to reconnect with friends and to talk with a new audience about my climate-focused work.

2020: A recap

What can be said about 2020? I was at the Society for Photographic Education in Houston in March when the COVID pandemic was starting to spread in the U.S. Two days after I returned home, my school, and it seemed, all of NYC (and the world?) shut down. Like many, I had to adapt to teaching online while trying to cope with the incredible loss of life due to the pandemic. I had to get very creative with my darkroom class – making sunprints, toning existing silver prints with tea and coffee, etc. It was not an ideal situation and I was glad to return for one face-to-face (mask-to-mask?) class in Fall 2020 and for all my courses in Spring 2021.

Many scheduled art opportunities were cancelled or postponed in 2020, including a summer residency at the Rensing Center in Pickens, SC (I was able to go the following summer). But, other opportunities opened up. Asked by my gallerist, Susan Eley if I wanted to have an online exhibit, I jumped at the chance to put together some of my Divergence of Birds work to honor the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.  And James Isherwood selected my work for another online exhibit – Respite and Renewal.

In October, I gave an outdoor presentation and workshop for a group of middle school students in Connecticut. Later that Fall, I collaborated with poet Betsy Andrews to create a video to accompany a portion of her poem – The Bottom – for an online program: Thinking Food Futures: Eating is Poetic hosted by Residency Unlimited. I also continued photographing my paper cutouts of climate-threatened birds for my Divergence of Birds project, but much of the year was a time for quiet contemplation and not for making art.

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2019 Events + Happenings

2019 events & happenings

I was granted a teaching sabbatical for the 2018-19 academic year to pursue my new climate change project, Divergence of Birds. This project was primarily inspired by the Audubon Society Climate Report which warns that, of our 588 species of birds in North America, at least 314 will have their range of habitat impacted by the year 2080. Another source of inspiration was Philip K. Dick’s 1968 dystopian story – “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.”

I will be adding a portfolio of these photos on my primary artist’s website by early Spring so until then, the best place to see work from Divergence is by following me on Instagram. Check out my January 22nd post to read the full project statement to get a better understanding of my working process.



2019 Winter/Spring Exhibits

I am pleased to announce that I am part of a group exhibit, Environmental Empathies,  at the Callahan Center at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY  I am exhibiting work from two series: The Witness Tree and Elder Activists, a new series created with writer/ activist Betsy Andrews. We hope to create a website for the Elders project later this Spring/Summer, but if you want a sneak-preview, see the photo above and come visit the exhibit!

During the opening, I hosted a “Postcards for Politicians” workshop which had participants from ages 7 to 70!

Curated by Katherine Gressel, the exhibit is up until March 28th. Gallery hours are 8 am – 8pm daily. The Gallery/College is located at 180 Remsen Street in downtown Brooklyn, NY.



And in the Windy City – I will have work from the Divergence of Birds series in the exhibit Context 2019 at Filter Photo Gallery. I won’t be able to make the opening, but if you live in Chicago – please go check it out from March 27 – April 27th.


Across the pond,  this Witness Tree photo (above) taken in New Orleans after Hurricane Isaac of a burial vault and a set of stairs displaced by the flood waters, will be in the exhibit Stranger than Fiction this May at Loosen Gallery in Rome, Italy.


Upcoming 2019 Artist Residencies

I have been accepted to three artist residencies this coming year where I will be able to focus more deeply on creating work for Divergence of Birds.

  • Caldera – in Sisters, Oregon – where I will also be doing some climate programming with local teenagers during my residency.
  • Hypatia-in-the Woods – in Shelton, WA
  • Ucross – in, where else but Ucross, Wyoming

While in the Pacific Northwest, I will also be attending the Photolucida Portfolio Reviews in Portland in late April. Hopefully I will see some of you out there!

2018 Events & Activities

Below is a recap of some of my 2018 Witness Tree exhibitions, events and activities. Thanks to all who attended or participated. To find out about upcoming events please go to the Contact page to add your name to my mailing list. I usually send out quarterly newsletters with an occasional update regarding something special. monastra_180921_5149

Climate Exhibit in Pingyao, China

In September, a selection of my Witness Tree project was exhibited in the International Festival of Photography in the ancient walled city of Pingyao in Shanxi Province. Curated by Susan Dooley, the exhibit, A Focus on Climate also included the work of seven other talented photographers: Alex Heilner, Mark Klett & Byron Wolfe, Judy Natale, Jennifer Little, Nadia Sablin, and Julie Dermansky.

With over 200 exhibits, numerous artist’s talks, an educator’s forum, and lots of pomp and pageantry at the opening and awards ceremonies – it was an exhilarating and exhausting week! Pingyao, alone, was well-worth the visit. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is also home to the most amazing small-batch vinegars – the scents of which waft through its tiny cobble-stoned streets.


Open Studios Event / Postcards to Politicians Workshop

Back in October, I participated in the City-Wide Open Studios event organized by Artspace in New Haven, CT. I have visited friends’ studios during past annual “CWOS” weekends, but this year, my sabbatical allowed me the time to participate in the “Alternative Space” weekend where over 200 artists displayed their work in a former corporate headquarters near Yale University’s West Campus. (Above: fellow artist Kaitlyn Casso looking at my work)

The event was well-attended and I had many great conversations about climate change with the people who visited my little “alternative” studio and/or took the time to make some postcards for politicians at the station I set up. I am happy to report that I received letters from several of the politicians we sent our hand-crafted climate postcards to. Democracy in Action!


Cape Cod Dune Shack Residency

In June, I was lucky to get to spend a week at an historic Dune Shack at the Cape Cod National Seashore. In addition to getting to see large groups of seals, it was an idyllic and unique location to get to photograph some of the “birds” for my Divergence project including this Great Black-backed Gull above.


The Witness Tree Takes a Stand at The Illinois Holocaust Museum

The above photograph I took of a mother and child at the 2014 People’s Climate March in NYC is part of an exhibit at the Take a Stand Center at the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie, Illinois. I am glad I got a chance to visit the exhibit and tour the rest of the museum last summer. It’s a very impressive museum and is just a short distance from Chicago, so I highly recommend a visit if you are in the vicinity.


Tree in the Sea on the cover of Lapham’s Quarterly!

I am very proud to have this Witness Tree photo grace the cover of the Summer issue of Lapham’s Quarterly  – a fine literary journal which you should pick up if you haven’t! Each issue is based on a different theme. My photo was chosen for the “Water” issue and it is the first time they chose to use an entire photographic image rather than just an image of an object to represent the theme – IE see below for a picture I snapped for Lewis Lapham and staff on the NYC subway of a youth reading their Youth issue.


Recent Witness Tree Workshops & Events

The past year has been eventful for The Witness Tree with giving various presentations and workshops. Below I share highlights from some of these events. If you know of any schools or community organizations that would like me to give a presentation, host an exhibition or collaborate on future climate events, please let me know. Just send me a note via the CONTACT page.

These two photos below are from a visit to a 4th grade class in New Jersey in June 2017- where I gave a presentation and then held a “Postcard for Politicians” workshop. I sent the resulting postcards to a variety of legislators – both local and national – and received a letter from Scott Pruitt’s EPA office letting me know that he, too, is “concerned” about the environment. 




The next photos are from a presentation and “Postcards for the Planet” workshop I did with 6th graders in Brooklyn in September. We displayed the pictures in a nearby park for an afternoon to generate awareness and discussion around climate concerns. Some of the students even brought their parents by to share their concerns for the environment.








In October, I held a Postcards for Politicians event in conjunction with the exhibit “Being Well: In Search of Utopia” at the Old Stone House Museum. I was exhibiting photographs from my “Solutions” portfolio of The Witness Tree (see below). We had participants of all ages join us for the workshop on a beautiful Sunday afternoon!

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In November, I organized three days of workshops and events around the theme of Waste as part of the Human Impacts Institute’s Creative Climate Awards programming. One of the highlights was getting to collaborate with Danielle Baudrand in creating one of her Zero Waste Climate Quilts with 5th graders from a middle school in Manhattan. The event started with a short play read by Chantel Bilodeau and Julia Levine (first photo below) and ended with the quilt (made up of dozens of small “panels” made by the students) – being added to the Climate Awards exhibit. 







Waste Not Want Not

I am very excited to be doing some programming in early November with The Human Impacts Institute. Please join me for these two exciting FREE events on the issue of WASTE.

1) WASTED: An Artists Presentation and Discussion

Wednesday, November 1, 2017
6:45 PM – 8:30 PM 
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office
1 E. 42nd St., New York, NY

A curated evening led by Impact Residency Artist Carolyn Monastra around the central theme Wasted. Presentations by artists Susan Allbert and Niki Lederer, whose work focuses on waste, will give presentations with a follow-up discussion about what we all can do about waste. The evening will include a brief introduction to The Climate Reality Project by Simone Rothman. 

Click HERE to register for this Free event! A donation is appreciated, but not required to secure a seat.

2) Lunch & Learn Impact Hour: Wasted
A panel discussion around the theme “Wasted.”

Friday, November 3, 2017
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM 
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office
1 E. 42nd St., New York, NY

Click HERE to register for this Free event! A donation is appreciated, but not required to secure a seat.

Join Human Impacts Institute Residency Artist Carolyn Monastra in a panel discussion around the theme: Wasted, with Bay-area activist Layel Camargo of CultureStrike Magazine, New York Activist, Raul Rothblatt,  Ovenly bakery co-owner Agatha Kulaga, and Jacqueline Ottman, founder of WeHateToWaste.com

Bring your lunch and listen in as panelists share their personal journeys with the issue of waste. We will discuss what actions we, as concerned citizens, can take to reduce our own personal waste as well as society’s collective waste-stream.


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.



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.


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. 


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.