artist dispatches on the weather, environment, and everyday life
Laurel MD, USA by Bill Crandall
63˚F in the Washington DC area the day before, I was beginning to wonder if we would even get a winter. Now it's freezing and the first snow of the year is still going strong as I write this. I'm waiting in the car in a suburban office park while my Senegalese mother-in-law gets a COVID test.
No way to reschedule, she had to catch a flight the next day. I asked her if she liked the cold and snow. She said yes, at home in Dakar this past year she said it had been noticeably hotter than usual, she felt too warm a lot of the time. I saw somewhere the other day that just about the entire northern hemisphere was running about 10-15 degrees above normal at the end of 2021.
I guess someone finally flipped a giant winter switch somewhere. Since I had at least a few minutes to kill, I decided my challenge was to get, ideally without leaving the car (though I did climb over to the passenger seat), a photo that conveyed how strange and slightly unsettling it felt.
On the way home down I-95 we started seeing cars that had slid off the road. The GPS kept telling us to take an upcoming exit that didn't really make sense, for some reason I decided to trust it. When we almost got stuck on an unplowed overpass in the middle of nowhere-ville, it made me think I had made a mistake. Especially since I had just been bragging about my snow-driving skills to reassure my mother-in-law. Surely 95 would have been better. But we made it, barely.
On the next morning's news though, as you may have seen by now, the big story was all the people stuck on 95 overnight in their freezing cars. Backups for 40+ miles, people stranded without food and water for more than 20 hours in some cases.
Could have been us, we were lucky. Lesson learned, back at home I threw a blanket in the trunk along with a go-bag with food, water, and a few other emergency essentials. We almost needed it.
• More about Weather Report here
new approaches to climate themes
As a husband and wife artist duo currently based in Prague, Gabriela Bulisova and Mark Isaac are a somewhat rare breed - a creative team that uses photography, video, and experimental art approaches in their long-term projects, along with a unique balance of technique, ideas, visual prowess, connection to the natural world, and deeply-felt humanism.
They are also rare in the sense that they each have their own distinct and mature individual vision, yet they manage to collaborate so well. While their work is rigorously conceived, researched, and executed, they never lose sight of the common good they're looking to serve.
Gabriela and Mark are often explicit in their focus on climate and other issues, and the need for collective action. In an early post on their joint website’s Tombolo blog, they wrote:
We used the metaphor of wolves howling in the night as a way of thinking about the urgency of the moment and the need for people to join and react vocally. Of course howling is not enough. The howling of wolves is an incitement to group action. And that’s what we need – stronger communities that join together in a movement for change and revitalization.
[This] is a time when the voices of artists and their allies, speaking the truth, need to be joined together into something larger. It’s a time when the individual ego needs to be kept in check so that the good of the community will take priority.
They posted recently about their exhibition opening in Cyprus, where they just completed a short residency. Through their separate-but-together voices, using massive prints, A Tree for the Forest explores both the recent wildfires’ impact on local trees and the broader new understanding of the ways trees communicate with each other.
Over the holidays, I did one-stop gift shopping with a neighbor, Takoma Park artisan Jeff Struewing, who happily gave me tons of backstory on his materials and process as I sat in his warm kitchen choosing what to buy. He makes a wide range of functional and decorative pieces with 100 percent local wood from downed trees in the neighborhood.
music to carry us forward
Some beauty and peace from the winter solstice, recorded in Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik on the shortest day of the year. Stick around, it’s more than one piece, conceptualized around tracking the rising northern sun. Featuring Josin on vocals and Reykjavík Recording Orchestra. If you like it, get it here.
Do Earth: Healing Strategies for Humankind, by Tamsin Omond
• Washington DC residents
• Application deadline: Friday, Jan 21, 4:00p
• Exhibition dates: May 9 – July 1, 2022
• Exhibition theme: Environmental Justice. In their work, artists may address local and/or global questions of ecology, environmentalism, biodiversity, climate change, stewardship, the relationship of climate justice to social justice, and/or other related concepts and issues.