Climate Change Exhibition Extends Beyond Gallery

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University's Department of Art will host a visiting artists’ mixed media exhibition that calls attention to man-induced climate change and its consequences — through galley pieces and, unconventionally, on city billboards.

“Double Blind,” April 6-24 in Columbus State University’s Corn Center for the Visual Arts’ Illges Gallery, incorporates compelling examples of landscapes impacted by climate change. An opening gallery reception, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 6, will include a 6 p.m. gallery talk by the artists, Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris.

The pair, spring 2010 artists in residence at CSU, are founding directors of the Canary Project, a Brooklyn-based collaborative of more than 30 artists, scientists, writers, designers and educators that produces visual media and artwork to — like a canary in a coal mine — warn of looming danger and energize commitment to solutions.

“Double Blind” includes large-scale photographs shot by Sayler of environmentally-threatened landscapes around the world. However, the displays are cloaked, prompting the viewer to read an accompanying description and avoid focusing initially and solely on the perceivable beauty and grandeur of the imagery.

Some of the cloaked images — from the Sayler-Morris series A History of the Future — are displayed on billboards around Columbus:

• Linwood Boulevard: “Glacial, Icecap and Permafrost Melting XXXVI” at Bellingshausen Base, King George Island, Antarctica, 2008

• Veterans Parkway: “Glacial, Icecap and Permafrost Melting XXXVIII,” Antarctica, 2008

• Victory Drive: Drought and Fires XIV, Umatilla National Forest, Washington State, 2006

• Manchester Expressway: “Glacial, Icecap and Permafrost Melting XLVII” at Cordillera Blanca, Peru, 2008

• Warm Springs Road: “Drought and Fires XIV,” Gansu Province, China, 2007

Morris said the images provide a lot for viewers to consider. “The exhibition begins with the premise that we as a society have received a very clear and strong warning about our future from the scientific community,” he said. “That warning stipulates that, unless we act to reduce emissions, revamp our energy system and move our economy away from its dependence on oil, very dark days are ahead.”

Apart from the exhibition, Morris and Sayler have taught the course Art and Activism to 12 CSU art students. The research-based course has involved disciplines such as history and science and included field study at Providence Canyon State Park near Lumpkin.

“The students are doing independent research on the canyon and creating works in a variety of media that responds to the research,” said Morris. “Providence Canyon is an interesting place because it is celebrated for its natural beauty, but in fact was formed due to bad soil conservation practices over a relatively short period of time in the 19th and 20th centuries.”

Student work from Art and Activism will be shown April 26-May 7 in the University Hall Gallery in an exhibition called It All Started With a Dripping Barn Roof.

“We have been extremely pleased with the level of enthusiasm and sophistication of the students in general,” said Morris.

Gallery admission and the opening reception are free. Illges Gallery hours are noon-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Guided tours of the exhibition by Morris and Sayler also are available by appointment. For more information, call 706-507-8300.