September 9, 2020

Third Coast Disrupted: Artists and Scientists Connect on Climate

Just as biological diversity flourishes most where ecosystems converge* and overlap, so does innovation occur at the intersection of disciplines and ideas.

That’s the premise of a new exhibit opening in Chicago on September 8 at Columbia College called Third Coast Disrupted: Artists + Scientists on Climate.

Des Plaines McDonald's by Meredith Leich

Des Plaines McDonald's by Meredith Leich

In my work, I’ve found that facts and feelings are separate realms, often whistling—or Zooming!—right past each other. When I revert to facts—about climate change or flooding—others are rooted in fears (about flooding and so forth). Exhibit creator and curator Christine Esposito seeks harmonic convergence, to straddle that intersection by bringing scientists and artists to talk and work together on the urgent issues of climate change.

Third Coast Disrupted is “based on the notion that art can connect and engage with people on an emotional level,” says Esposito. “It can pique curiosity, be unexpected, tactile, interactive, evocative, and memorable. It can slow people down, inspire them to reflect, move them to talk to each other—and spur them to act.”

In an interview with Green Community Connections, Esposito explains, “We need new ways to engage people with climate change and foster climate action, ways that can cut through the digital clutter. Scientists are the first to say that talking about the science isn’t bringing about the kind of response we need. Because of art’s ability to activate the senses and connect with people on an emotional and even personal level, it can create more lasting impressions that inspire people to learn more and act.”

Through science-inspired sculpture, painting, collage and more, the artworks examine local impacts—happening here and now—ranging from extreme heat to flooding to habitat loss, and more. They also shine light on local solutions underway, like “cool roofs,” nature-based approaches to slowing stormwater, and backyard habitat restoration. Some imagine future possibilities.  

Third Coast Disrupted:
Artists + Scientists on Climate
September 8–October 30, 2020
Glass Curtain Gallery—Columbia College Chicago
1104 S. Wabash Ave., 1st Floor, Chicago
Gallery Hours: Mon–Fri, 9 am–5 pm
Gallery capacity is 10 visitors. Masks are required.
Online programs, including with internationally known faith leader and climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe on Sept. 16, who has worked on climate change projections and impacts in northern Illinois, and me talking about flooding and solutions on October 1.

To register for free online panels, here are the links:
(All the panels include an artist and a scientist.)

Katharine Hayhoe: Connecting Global Change to Local Impacts & Solutions
Wed., September 16, 7–8 pm CDT
Free—Online. Register here.

The Art of Communicating Climate: A Conversation with Katharine Hayhoe
Thurs., September 17, 8–9 am CDT
Free—Online. Register here.

Water, Water Everywhere: First-Person Flooding, Impact & Action
Thurs., October 1, 6:30–7:30 pm CDT
Free—Online. Register here.

Avian Effects: Climate Change and Birds
Thurs., October 8, 6:30–7:30 pm CDT
Free—Online. Register here.

Getting Around Carbon: New Looks at Transportation Options
Thurs., October 22, 6:30–7:30 pm CDT
Free—Online. Register here.

Visit Columbia College Chicago’s project page.

Visit the Third Coast Disrupted website.

*(Read about the history of the Indiana Dunes, where Henry Chandler Cowles, as a graduate student at the University of Chicago, launched the discipline of ecology with his studies of plant succession.)