Climate Change Think Tank, Alaska Museum, and Artist Launch Collaboration to Tell Story of Thawing Permafrost
May 25, 2018
FALMOUTH, MA – May 25, 2018 – The Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC), the Anchorage Museum, and artist and environmental activist Justin Brice Guariglia today announced a collaboration to amplify the story of the Arctic’s thawing permafrost through an innovative, long-term artist residency.
Beginning this summer, WHRC and the museum will send Guariglia to the Alaska tundra with a team of scientists who are investigating the Arctic’s rapidly thawing permafrost. The permafrost holds as much as much as 1,500 gigatons of carbon, twice the amount of carbon found in our atmosphere today. As the carbon-rich frozen soil thaws, it releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, accelerating global warming, causing more polar ice to melt, and hastening the rise in sea level.
Guariglia will make multiple trips across Alaska over the next few years to gather materials and to research the permafrost for his artwork, culminating in an exhibition at the Anchorage Museum in 2021. The exhibition will subsequently travel to additional venues.
“I’m excited to work with Justin because this will it provide an opportunity to reach new audiences, which is critical given the rapid rate of change in the Arctic and the impacts of these changes on the planet,” said WHRC permafrost expert Dr. Sue Natali. “I think there’s a power in communicating through art, that isn’t always accessible through data and scientific results, particularly when communicating the complexities of climate change. I’m also excited for the opportunity to see the Arctic landscape and permafrost through the lens of Justin’s artwork.”
In 2015, Guariglia was the first artist to fly on missions with NASA, and is scheduled to continue flying with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Oceans Melting Greenland Mission through 2020.
"We continually invest in collaborations with contemporary artists and designers who are working to examine and respond to the world. Artists do not limit what they can imagine and by which means they prompt others to look at the world, the environment, and the future in new ways,” said Julie Decker, director and CEO of the Anchorage Museum.
New York-based artist Guariglia, who works across the mediums of photography, painting, video and sculpture, is known for working closely with scientists, philosophers and journalists to inform his work, allowing him to communicate effectively some of the most complex ecological challenges we face on the planet today.
“The melting of the Arctic permafrost is an ecological catastrophe unfolding in slow motion, and it’s just abstract enough, and invisible enough, that it could be easily ignored by the public,” he said. “But I believe addressing it, like the rest of the ecological crisis we face today, is the moral imperative of our time. At this critical juncture, art must be used as a positive force for both social and political change, and to help open our minds to new possibilities. Artists and writers today have a tremendous responsibility to respond to this crisis.”
For Earth Day 2017, under the advisement of NASA scientists, Guariglia created the free sea-level rise iOS app "After Ice,” which received 13 million impressions in its first week in the iTunes store. His traveling exhibition "Earth Works: Mapping the Anthropocene,” which was awarded a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts grant, recently debuted at the Norton Museum of Art. It will open this Fall at the USC Fisher Museum of Art in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. Guariglia is also a Howard Foundation Fellow in photography at Brown University and is part of the 2018 show “Indicators: Artists on Climate Change” at Storm King Arts Center.
ABOUT THE WOODS HOLE RESEARCH CENTER
WHRC is an independent research institute where scientists investigate the causes, drivers, and impacts of climate change - and how to solve it. Learn more at www.whrc.org.
ABOUT THE ANCHORAGE MUSEUM
The largest museum in Alaska, the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center tells the true story of the North by connecting people, expanding perspectives and encouraging global dialogue about the North and its distinct environment. Learn more at www.anchoragemuseum.org.