Painting An Ageless Battle In Times Of Change by Janet Glatz
Back in the 90’s, global warming became the hip art theme, after Al Gore presented us with his giant and frightening temperature graph and urged us all to take action. Since then, a few painters have reached the forefront of environmental art, while some eco-artists and websites have disappeared into the ether. Lately, however, there has been resurgence in the genre.
Of the subject matter found in eco-art, perhaps the most ubiquitous are polar bears, glaciers and icebergs, seals, tigers, sea turtles, and elephants. Another popular poster-animal for climate change has been the giant panda who found his way onto the WWF logo.
I have researched the polar bear’s plight, and considered how I might develop a composition that would tell the story of shrinking habitat with diminishing food sources. I’ve checked out the panda‘s endangered habitat that is being cut down to make way for Chinese residential development. I‘ve even painted a pair of elephants.
That being said, I plan to move into less frequently painted territory, following the trend of some of my works which could be considered motivational. Case in point, Fukushima Tsunami, which depicts the ruins of a Japanese village with a gilt-framed Van Gogh print lying atop a pile of boards and timbers. The beautiful framed print, barely harmed by the raging sea, symbolizes resilience and hope.
Likewise, Gone by 2050, which illustrates the “sinking” island of Funafuti in the South Pacific, features a native child alone on a rapidly shrinking atoll--where will he go? How will he make a life? This story is true; however, in order to convey a sense of optimism, I made the road curve into the unknown, but sheltering arms of the jungle palms.
One eco-tableau I’ve considered is the practice by natives in Indonesia of projecting themselves off a small boat onto the heads of whales. A spear is simultaneous jabbed into the whale’s brain. A rope tied to the spear is then used to bind the whale to the boat, and the creature (too large and heavy for such a small craft) is cut up while still in the sea. Unsettling as this practice is, I can’t condemn it. On the contrary, I commend the fisherman for their ability to feed their families. But what about the whales?
Some of my other works that aim to jog people into global awareness are Reef Renewal, showing a diver transplanting baby coral into a graying reef; and Foregone Conclusion, in which an American Research Vessel motors near a rapidly melting glacier.
Simple, straightforward messages about man and nature, together in a struggle to last the ages—that is what I wish to paint.