Climate Change in the Bay Area is the focus of two new exhibits at MCD

Originally published in the Marina Times San Francisco in December 2019

The Museum of Craft and Design has two new compelling exhibits dealing with the ways in which individuals are addressing issues related to climate change.

Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience features ambitious work from artists and architects creating adaptations to a world that will be increasingly in need of emergency shelters in a climate-constrained world. The concurrent exhibit Linda Gass: and then this happened… draws attention to the natural water infrastructure in the greater Bay Area.

Survival Architecture is guest curated by Randy Jayne Rosenberg of Art Works for Change. “Climate change represents a vastly different kind of environmental challenge, requiring out of the box thinking in how we adapt to and survive the expected onslaught of extreme weather and other disruptions,” said Rosenberg. “Artists are uniquely adept at re-envisioning our world and how we relate to it, as this exhibition shows.”

Sustainable architecture strives to minimize negative impact to the environment through the use of efficient, non-detrimental resources. This exhibit makes climate change concepts accessible to a general audience through four central themes that reflect key characteristics about survival architecture. Circular- the importance of durable structures that can be used and reused indefinitely; Portable-the ability to create movable and nomadic dwellings; Visionary- forward-thinking ideas that can radically transform our assumptions about shelter; and Resilient-structures that can adapt to adverse and dynamic circumstances. Mitchell Joachim’s Terreform ONE and Cricket Shelter: A Modular Insect Farm from 2016 is an exotic, sculptural dwelling which also contains a functioning cricket farm. Cardborigami, 2016 by Tina Hovespian is a portable dwelling inspired by origami art. Her lightweight and sustainable cardboard shelters are big enough for two people to sleep in, and can actually fold up into a size that is small enough to carry. Mary Mattingly’s Desert Deployment 2, 2011 is a camouflaged covering acting as shelter in high temperatures. Artist Thomas L. Kelly’s photo of destroyed homes in Nepali Earthquake, 2015 drives home the need for the development of human shelter that can survive a full life cycle of durability pre-, during and post-disaster.

Linda Gass: and then this happened…presents the multimedia artist Linda Gass and her stitched paintings and works in glass questioning water and land use in California. She brings extensive knowledge of the impact of changing waterways, sea-level rise, fire, and drought to create works that evoke topographical maps and textile art. Gass paints directly onto silk, an art-quilt medium, using dye, then adds a backing and fills it with batting, then stitches directly onto the painted fabric. This exhibit also has four themed topics: The artworks illustrate how sea-level rise, man-made waterways, rain/snow pack loss and wildfire changes impact our environment. Three aerial street views of Dogpatch show how it looks today, how it would change after a three foot sea-level rise and the devastation after a six foot sea-level rise. Another locally-themed piece, Severely Burned (2014) depicts the effects of the 2013 Rim Fire on the Tuolumne River Watershed, which provides drinking water for the city of San Francisco and other Bay Area cities. Droughts and Floods: California Average Annual Rainfall (or Snowpack) 2019 is made from bullseye sheet glass and glass frit, showing a graph representing rainfall over time. These works have a jeweled, rich and pristine appeal to the eye providing a contrast to the dire nature of Gass’ powerful messages.

Gass comments, “Our current water infrastructure was designed during an era when our climate was more stable and the average annual rainfall was higher than it is now. Human development has permanently altered and destroyed much of our natural water infrastructures such as wetlands and watersheds. My textile, glass, and mixed-media artworks address these concerns – how our infrastructure and development policies are failing under climate chaos – and invite the viewer to ponder the question ‘what can we do better?’”

Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience and Linda Gass: and then this happened… begins on December 19, 2019 and runs through May 3, 2020. Related events include an MCD Curator Walkthrough: Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020 from 6:30pm-8:00pm. Additionally there will be an MCD Design Lab Happy Hour for Linda Gass: and then this happened… TBD 2020.

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