If the Environment Has No Face…

Written by Kayley Winkleman, ESLLC 2016-2017

When facing the problem of climate change awareness it is essential to approach it from multiple facets. For instance, if one was to purely spew facts and statistics at people about the effects of climate change, some people would care and others would just get bored. It is imperative to express the information in a way that gathers attention and invokes emotions within people. People will rarely change their way of thinking unless there is an emotional appeal to do so, that’s why it is so important to find new ways of educating people about the dangers of climate change.


One of these emerging methods is through art. People have been creating ecological art and nature/land art for a very long time; it became especially popular in the 1970s when the modern green movement was born. But, more specifically climate change art has become popular recently as a way of communicating the impacts of climate change. If people are actually able to visually see what could happen to the polar bears or to the endangered species, they will be more likely to care. Putting a face to a statistic is a great method of raising awareness. People are more likely to stop and look at a sculpture of a near death polar bear and think about its meaning, that stop and look at a statistic written up on a billboard and take the time to think about the impact of that number.

One example of this kind of impactful art is Olafur Eliasson’s “Your waste of time piece,” which features pieces of glacial ice that broke off of Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in iceland. It was kept in a refrigerated gallery space that was powered by solar panels on the roof of the gallery. The piece is very representative of what mankind has done to the earth, that we have wrecked havoc on the natural processes that have been going on for thousands of years and are now dealing with the consequences of our actions. Eliasson says that the piece represents what we have taken away from earth, “We take time from the glacier by touching it” (Eliasson). We have stole precious time from this glacier, this magnificent natural phenomena, just like common thieves. We have robbed future generations of this beauty and completely disrespected the spectacular process of nature this glacier has gone through to form.

There are many other examples of art that has been made in order to broaden our awareness of what we have done to our earth. These pieces are made entirely to invoke emotion and a sense of responsibility for the damage we have done. We can not pretend that climate change doesn’t exist and that we played no hand in its cause. Since the “environment has no face. It has no image,” one must be given to it because “if an environmental problem lacks a face, the existence of the problem is diminished” and climate change can not be disparaged (Zakai).



Eliasson, Olafur. “Your waste of time • Artwork • Studio Olafur Eliasson.” Studio Olafur Eliasson. Web. 30 Jan. 2017.

Zakai, Shai. “Cultivating an Interdisciplinary Approach to Environmental Awareness.” Cultivating an Interdisciplinary Approach to Environmental Awareness. Green Museum, 2002. Web. 30 Jan. 2017.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s