Earth Day x Artivism: How Artists Are Promoting Positive Change

How do we make sense of the unprecedented times we are living in?

One answer may very well be art, as it has the power to translate our experiences, fears and anxieties into beauty. To discuss how artists are harnessing their skills to create meaning and inspire activism (otherwise known as artivism) from the current situation and the ongoing issue of climate change, on Earth Day we spoke to the new art platform Alpha’a, which has been using art to promote positive change since 2017 when they asked artists to create work in response to the biggest challenges the world is facing.

“Visuals stick with people, a partner of ours used to say, ‘What you see you can’t un-see,’” said Manuela Seve, a co-founder of Alpha’a. As an example, she points to an exhibit they put on where they displayed debris they had collected from a beach to highlight the sheer amount of waste that is being created everyday, “It’s hard to continue consuming objects when you see them like this. That’s why we believe art is the best tool to create a positive impact.”

LUCID, Jeremy McKane LUCID, Jeremy McKane

A still from "LUCID"

Art can also inspire people to feel like change is possible. Jeremy McKane, for instance, is an artist who created an installation called “LUCID” that allows users to (virtually) clean the ocean using their mind. Viewers step into a video installation wearing a neuro headset that monitors brain waves. At first, you see a dirty ocean and the only way to clear it is to clear your mind and meditate. When you do that, the water begins to clear up and wildlife appears.

“The piece uses beauty and hope whilst highlighting a problem,” Seve says.

Another artist committed to visualizing climate change is Basia Goszcynska, whose work “Rainbow Cave” was composed of 44,000 plastic bags and fishing nets. The piece was a beautiful – if eerie – reminder of the sheer volume of waste that is being produced by humans each day.

“Immersive experiences bridge the gap between physical and virtual space allows for more action,” Goszcynska says about her work.

Rainbow Cave

Rainbow Cave

In response to our current crisis, Seves says artists confined to their homes are tapping in to the power of technology now more than ever. And with so many physical galleries closed, Alpha’a is providing a platform for them to display their work and engage with other artists in weekly webinars.

Of course, being artists, many of them see these times as an opportunity – and a way to stay sane.

“It’s a moment of high creativity,” Seves says, “And of course, at least a few of them are using their artistic practice as a grounding mechanism.”

Check out Alpha'a's full Earth Day discussion with Basia Goszcynska and Jeremy McKane, below.

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