Exhibit Fuses Student Art and Ecology

By David Copithorne

In Donald Trump’s America, one topic that should be on the forefront of everyone’s minds is the  environment. With Trump withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, bringing coal back, and reducing enforcement of pollution laws, scientists agree that our world is in trouble. In light of our president’s inaction on the issue of climate change, the David Brower center took it upon itself to act and promote environmentalism.  

One way for our youth to promote their vision of change is through artistic expression. The David Brower Center is providing teens with the opportunity to express their views on the environment through their latest exhibit, Art/Act: Youth. The exhibit displays the work of Berkeley High  School artists confronting our environmental crisis in a contemporary gallery space.

The Brower Center is located in downtown Berkeley and dedicated to providing space for the ecological movement. David Brower was one of the founding members of The Sierra Club. 

The art gallery on the ground floor is dedicated to art that raises awareness of Earth’s beauty, challenges, and ecological integrity. Recently, the David Brower Center teamed up with Berkeley High’s Advanced Studio Art class taught by Kimberley D’Adamo Green, which revolves around the idea of art making as a component of research. 

The David Brower center had this to say about their latest show “The Brower Center’s vision to nurture young environmental artists, with the goal of creating a community to support and inspire each other’s work, and become a force for educating the general public on environmental issues.”

The exhibit consist of 47 young artists, with a vast array of mediums, including photography, sculpture, paintings, murals, illustrations along with many others. The featured artistic themes varied from the delightfully whimsical — encouraging the audience to appreciate our environment and all the good that it offers to our planet, — while others stood as a reminder for patrons of the real and intense environmental threats that currently face our planet, such as climate change and deforestation. 

Sculptor Moriah Godes explores the impact of man-made materials on ocean life. Painter Alex Spevak illustrates industry’s impact on Arctic animals. Another painter, Héctor Muñoz-Guzmán, looks at the effects of pollution on urban life. 

The works were well thought out and displayed a clear and beautiful artistic message about our environment that’s been missing from the public eye since Trump’s inauguration.

Many varied resources provided the backdrop of inspiration that these young artists pulled from to contribute to this exhibition. Senior Jaya Nagarajan’s piece “Today’s Earth” is reminiscent of the maps found in a children’s National Geographic magazine that explains what is going on across the globe. When asked what originally inspired them, they elaborated, “When we started thinking about the Brower exhibition, I was thinking about the future. I was brainstorming and then remembered these maps that I would see in magazines, and I was wondering how I could make something like that but with art instead of words.”

For many of the artists, it is their first time having their works displayed in a proper gallery. “It’s such a great honor to be exhibited,” said Kimiro Kikon-Sautman, a junior at BHS, when asked about her first ever art show display. “I’ve never really thought of myself as an artist before, just because the things that I’ve made were so few and far between. Taking an art class that forced me to constantly create made me open my eyes to what I could accomplish … I never thought I would make it this far.” 

Making a career of being an artist can be extremely difficult, with many failing to get a foot in door. Thanks to the David Brower Center, these talented students can  begin to establish themselves and will hopefully be able to use this opportunity to launch a future in the arts.

With this exhibition, the David Brower Center is supporting a community of young and local artists. Their latest gallery offers a valuable platform for these teenagers to raise awareness towards environmental action, in addition to giving them the confidence to continue their passion. 

In these times of environmental uncertainty and policy that could bring further global devastation, we look for voices of resistance, of concern, and of compassion. These are voices that are loud, strong, and are vital for reshaping our planet’s ecosystem.