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The Progressive - January 17, 2020

Visual artists Marcia Annenberg and Angela Manno are on opposite ends of the artistic spectrum. 

While Annenberg favors conceptual designs meant to jolt viewers from complacency to action, Manno produces meticulously crafted iconography utilizing techniques first developed in the Christian monasteries of fourteenth century Russia. Her aim is to inspire reverence for all of creation. 

Despite their different styles, Annenberg and Manno agree that using art to illuminate the rapidly unfolding climate crisis is imperative.

The two women have been artmakers for decades; their work has been exhibited widely in the United States and internationally. But the looming threat of climate calamity—increasingly severe superstorms, anticipated droughts and food shortages, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and massive species’ extinction—gives their latest work urgency and gravitas.

Annenberg began focusing on the environment in 2013, shortly after James Hansen, NASA director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies from 1981-2013 and head of the program on Climate Science Awareness and Solutions at the Earth Institute of Columbia University, was arrested at a protest to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline, an 1,179-mile crude oil transit link between Alberta, Canada, and the U.S. Gulf Coast.   

“I saw the story covered in The Washington Post, which ran a story about Hansen’s arrest as local news, but other newspapers and media outlets ignored it,” Annenberg recalls. “That a top climate scientist was willing to be arrested over the pipeline, and that it was not widely reported, left me speechless.” 

As Annenberg dug deeper, she found that this lack of media attention was not a fluke. There was also scant reporting on the signing of the Paris Climate Treaty, with one newspaper, The New York Post, running a mention of it on page 33. Annenberg’s reaction became “Checkmate: Foxy Moxy,” an installation expressing incredulity over the article’s placement.

Then, in early February, 2019, Annenberg learned of the Hindu Kush Himalayan Assessment, a study that reported that even if carbon emissions are curbed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, 36 percent of the glaciers along the Hindu Kush and Himalayan Mountain range will disappear by 2100.  

“This had a huge impact on me,” Annenberg says. Her first thought: This can’t be real. ...
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