At Kean, Philadelphia artists on beauty threatened by man and the impact of global ice melt
A breathtaking exhibition at Kean University is bringing the arctic inside. Glacial Dimensions-Art and the Global Ice Melt, housed in the Karl & Helen Burger Gallery at the Center for Academic Success designed by KSS Architects, is the first of a semester-long partnership between Kean’s School of Environmental and Sustainability Sciences (SESS) and University Galleries. Documenting the international effects of climate change, artists Diane Burko and Paula Winokur deliver the reality of ongoing environmental events to the local community through the intersections of art and science.
Drawing from first-hand research and travel, Winokur and Burko engage viewers by utilizing the emotional impact of art, connecting the audience to the effects of climate change on the natural environment. For decades, the Philadelphia artists have personally monitored the shrinking ice alongside scientists, capturing the essence of the crisis through photography and sculpture. In a first-time collaboration, Winokur’s white, textural sculptures suggestive of snow and ice, paired with Burko’s cinematic photography of melting fields, exposes a narrative detailing nature’s beauty with its loss.
The distance of climate change, often conveyed through statistics and numbers, facts and figures, rapidly vanishes as Burko and Winokur share their experience with tangible objects and captivating mediums. “Art, as opposed to reading a newspaper or looking at a graph, can hit the viewer on an emotional level and help them connect,” commented Burko. With photography, she hopes to “seduce people with the beauty of our natural environment”, a result of the “fear that beauty is being threatened by man-made decisions.” Dramatic photographs and delicately crafted porcelain sculptures purposefully carry the message from across the world inside, to be examined, experienced, and understood by all.
Bringing urgency to the global community, Winokur aims to “bring [her] vision of the outside into the gallery where people can see through my eyes what I have seen.” Jutting from walls, growing from central floor areas, and punctuating the length of the room, the dozens of works do just that. Winokur and Burko meaningfully activate the Karl & Helen Burger Gallery - interweaving art and design with a message of societal stewardship.
Winokur and Burko’s Glacial Dimensions-Art and the Global Ice Melt exhibition runs through April 30th and is free to the public.
On the ArtSCAPES partnership: “The ArtSCAPES series will bring together artists, scientists and activists to discuss climate change in terms of resources, hydrology of the planet and atmosphere, sustainability and human rights,” said Feng Qi, Ph.D., executive director for SESS. “Through these varied perspectives, we hope to inspire our students and others to learn new approaches to address these critical problems affecting our planet and our lives.”