CLIMATE CHANGE: ARTISTS FORCED TO ADAPT
Washington, D.C. — If you are walking along the Potomac waterfront during the last week of August, you might see an unusual sight: a woman floating on top of a painting. Noel Kassewitz, a DC artist recently transplanted from Miami, is out to make a point about climate change — albeit in a tongue-in-cheek manner. She and her painting will drift symbolically past the government establishment that she feels is ignoring the problem.
“I’ve always believed that art and science strengthen each other when combined. In an era of half-truths, full-lies, and intentionally blurred lines, the relationship between art and science is more important than ever. Science provides us with the evidence, but I believe art can plant the message deep enough emotionally to sprout into useful action.”
Kassewitz is currently focusing on rising sea levels. As a Miami native, she has firsthand experience with the streets of Miami and Miami Beach flooding regularly during high tides, a change from years past.
About a year and a half ago, Kassewitz started exploring various ways to make paintings “climate change ready.” She has spent time extensively researching materials and even consulted with an expert art conservator. She learned to weave her own canvas and embed buoys and other found flotation devices into the fabric of her paintings. She has tried approaches as simple and playful as wrapping existing paintings in common pool noodles, and as complex as creating new waterproof paintings using synthetic sailcloth & marine foam — like the painting soon to be in the Potomac.
“I hope to sneak through the wall of apathy that has currently built up around this issue. I’ve found that humor makes for a great Trojan horse with people who otherwise are not open to the topic of climate change. People generally laugh and engage when I point out that this artwork is designed to survive rising sea levels. As for my own amusement, I imagine that someday in the future an art collector will be safely sitting on top of their floating artwork exclaiming “Thank goodness we bought a Noel Kassewitz!”
Kassewitz plans on doing more performative floats in other cities, especially coastal locations most directly affected by rising sea levels such as Miami, Florida and Norfolk, Virginia, which were visited by CNN last year as part of an investigative series on climate change. For more information on her art and when and where Kassewitz will be floating next, you can visit her website: www.noelkassewitz.comor follow her on social media via Instagram @noelkassewitzart.
Miami-born Noel Kassewitz is a Washington, D.C.-based artist whose paintings and sculptures explore metaphysical, gender, and environmental concerns. Her works have exhibited nationally in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Miami, as well as internationally in Milan and Bologna, Italy.