The Weather Diaries: Introduction

For the past 2 1/2 years, I have worked on a site specific installation commissioned by the Center for Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (CENHS) at Rice University in collaboration with Houston FotoFest International Biennial 2016.

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The resulting body of work Another Storm is Coming debuted in March 2016 and consisted of 25 large scale outdoor photographs on metal, and 2 solar powered recycled shipping containers, affectionately called “juice boxes”. One housed the screening room for 2 new videos Breathed on the Waters and Storm Redux, (if you are in Chicago, please join me Oct 11 for the first ever Chicago Climate Festival at DePaul University. I’ll be delivering the keynote address followed by video screenings of this work). The other container housed The Library that consisted of art, artifacts, and resources, inviting viewers into my creative process by sharing sources of inspiration that shaped this work.

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While in Houston, I participated in FotoFest’s professional reviews and met with a very well known publisher to discuss Another Storm is Coming. His comment was that this work was local, at best regional, and had no audience outside of the Gulf Coast region. What?!

I replied to this “No, in fact the issues this work depicts -oil exploitation of land and sea and resulting spills, rise of sea levels, loss of wetlands and coastlines, extreme weather patterns causing environmental disasters fueled by warming oceans resulting in recurring hurricane and flood devastation, is not a local or regional problem but a global one. The Gulf Coast is paying for America’s sins! This work was driven by and mirrors, a very visceral, ever-present cultural anxiety about the future. In fact, Another Storm is Coming is ultimately a premonition that draws a much darker vision of the future and is full of ominous warnings accompanied by a steadily escalating sense of foreboding of impending disaster, as the environmental issues become more and more pressing, repetitive, and the need to act more immediate.” Needless to say, by the end of our exchange, neither of us were happy. But…

His response was very useful and galvanizing.

Upon my return to Chicago, I decided that my next body of work would be decidedly global in scope, and I began to contemplate a topic that could hold a dialogue of global proportions, yet still sustain personal resonances. I thought back to some very early youthful (and foolish) adventures of hitch hiking across the country solo. I thought back to how often I had meditated on the moon…and as corny as it sounds, I thought about how often I had found solace in the realization that my loved ones that I missed so much were looking at the very same moon though they were so very far away.

Suffice it to say, with some very big conceptual leaps that I can map but won’t, I landed on contemplating the weather and the closed system of water, hence The Weather Diaries begin.

 

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