Can Art Drive Change on Climate Change? Ask Alexis Rockman

Come to the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, for an evening with artist Alexis Rockman and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Abel of the Boston Globe.

Alexis Rockman's "Central Park," from 1997-98. Image courtesy of the artist.

At the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, on Thurs., Dec. 5, 2019 at 7pm, a provocative question will be posed: “Can Art Drive Change on Climate Change?” The forum for asking and answering this question is Bruce Museum Presents, an ongoing series of monthly talks and panels showcasing thought leaders in the fields of art and science. Leading the overall conversation on this night will be the acclaimed artist and climate-change activist Alexis Rockman, who will present specially chosen examples of his work and discuss how, and why, he uses his art to sound the alarm about an impending global emergency.

In addition to Rockman, and adding insight and his own expert perspective, will be David Abel, the award-winning reporter for the Boston Globe. Since 1999, Abel has reported on war in the Balkans, unrest in Latin America, national security issues in Washington, DC, and climate change and poverty in New England. Abel was also part of the team that won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News for the paper’s coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings. He now covers the environment for the Boston Globe.

Following Rockman’s presentation, Abel will join him for a wide-ranging dialogue at the intersection of art and environmental activism — followed by question-and-answer session with the audience.

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Among the current generation of American artists profoundly motivated by nature and its future — from the specter of climate change to the implications of genetic engineering — there is no question that Rockman holds a place of honor. Born in 1962 and raised in NYC, Rockman has been the subject of many international solo and group exhibitions, including a celebrated 2010-2010 Smithsonian retrospective, “Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow.” Rockman’s work is featured in public and private collections around the world, including the Brooklyn Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Moscow Museum of Contemporary Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Yale University Art Gallery.

“I first heard the words ‘climate change’ in 1994 when I asked a paleontologist friend, ‘What are you afraid of for our future?’,” Rockman told the New York Times in 2018. “He mentioned climate change and told me why he was scared. I was terrified but hopeful that we could rally as a species and avoid disaster. A lot has changed since then — mainly, from an environmental perspective — for the worse. I used to believe that knowledge and information would be enough to open our eyes to environmental devastation and that we would save the world.

“I made art partly to cope with what I was witnessing and to support a campaign for conservation,” Rockman adds. “I believed that if one could render moments of extinction, genocide, population explosion and political discord visible, then we might learn to confront and change the conditions leading to civilization’s collapse.”

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Along with his reportorial coverage, Abel has directed several environmentally focused documentaries. They include Gladesmen: The Last of the Sawgrass Cowboys, a 2016 feature-length film about the US government’s $16 billion effort to restore the Everglades; Sacred Cod, about the historic collapse of the iconic cod fishery in New England that was broadcast to a global audience by the Discovery Channel in 2017; and Lobster War: The Fight Over the World’s Richest Fishing Grounds, which premiered in 2018 at the International Maritime Film Festival.

Abel is now working on a new film about the race to save North Atlantic right whales from extinction and is the host of a new podcast about climate change called “Climate Rising.”

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Doors at the Bruce Museum open at 6:20pm for a reception with light bites and beverages, followed by the panel discussion and Q-and-A, 7pm to 830pm. Seats are $30 for Museum members, $45 for non-members. To reserve a seat, click here or call 203-869-0376.

Bruce Museum Presents is supported by the Connecticut Office of the Arts and produced by Leonard Jacobs, executive editor of The Clyde Fitch Report.