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Ed Koren, cartoonist, and Stephen Gorman, photographer, address the Climate Crisis in a New Exhibit | Visual Art | Seven Days

Ed Koren, cartoonist, and Stephen Gorman, photographer, address the Climate Crisis in a New Exhibit | Visual Art | Seven Days

A polar bear in Kaktovik photographed by Stephen Gorman - COURTESY OF STEPHEN GORMAN

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A polar bear in Kaktovik photographed by Stephen Gorman - COURTESY OF STEPHEN GORMAN

  • Courtesy Of Stephen Gorman
  • A polar bear in Kaktovik photographed by Stephen Gorman

The gaze is what gets you noticed first. Direct, personal, and full of meaning, but unreadable.

The polar bears were photographed by Norwich at Norwich’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Stephen Gorman2017. In 2017. New YorkerCartoonist Ed KorenBrookfield resident, he was Vermont’s second-ever cartoonist Laureate.

You can now find Gorman’s photos together with Koren’s drawings on the walls of The Walls of The as of March 12. Peabody Essex MuseumOne of the top-tier art museums in America, located in Salem, Massachusetts. The exhibition they share,All the way to the bone“” will hang for almost one year. Although it was serendipity which brought these works together, the sentiments behind them are mutual. These gazes are not unsettling.

Gorman first visited Kaktovik back in 2005. As a photographer and author, Gorman has made it his mission to photograph endangered wildlife and the natural landscapes that they inhabit. He also enjoys sharing the cultures of the people who have lived there for a long period of time. He paddled from the Brooks Range to Beaufort Sea, then to Kaktovik Lagoon to reach the village.

He said in an interview that although the lagoon was only a few miles long, it was still paddling in open waters in the Arctic Ocean in polar bear territory. “It was not something that you take lightly.” He recalls that pack ice could be seen about a dozen nautical miles offshore that summer.

In 2017, pack ice was hundreds and miles offshore when he returned. It was a shocking example of the effects of climate change. Gorman also saw almost everything else.

He wrote that parts of the village were literally being washed away by rising seas and more violent storms in an essay that he added to his photos. “The permafrost under the village is melting. The ice cellars that were once used to store whale meat are now crumbling. The ice-adapted bowheads whales migrate dangerously offshore to hunter boats. The ice is becoming increasingly difficult to reach for many polar bears who find themselves stranded as castaways. The bears are climate refugees and face extinction.”

This is, in a nutshell what Gorman wanted to capture with his camera.

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Ed Koren drawings from "Down to the Bone" - COURTESY OF ED KOREN

  • Courtesy Of Ed Koren
  • Ed Koren drawings from “Down to the Bone”

Koren is well-known for his fuzzy people and sharp observations of urban life. And for his expressive, phantasmagoric animals.

When Star WarsIn 1977, it was released. Washington PostGary Arnold, film critic wrote that “There’s a rapturous period of whimsy throughout the cantina scene in which we briefly glance one monster beginning to laugh at another monster’s unheard comment.” It’s almost as if Edward Koren cartoons suddenly came to life.

Koren was inspired by the dioramas at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History. These dioramas featured animals and people who look directly at visitors.

“It was almost like a huge story that you could continue to read about this moment: Why were they there? What did they do? What are they planning to do? Koren recalls the incident in an interview.

He went on to other things but, in 2015, he found himself back to the theme. He had been reading extensively about climate change in the interim. New YorkerElizabeth Kolbert, a colleague, is renowned for her powerful work on catastrophic shifts. David Wallace-Wells is also a fan. The Uninhabitable Planet: Life After HeatingJared Diamond’s Website. Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed.

These put him in a dark place, not surprising. “The more I read,” he said, “the more alarmed”

Koren has never been a political artist — more of a sociological one — but the result was a set of drawings of creatures who, as he puts it, are “surrounded by the remnants of an earlier civilization, and they’re trying to make sense of it: why it collapsed, are they dying and where are they going?”

Koren Gorman and Stephen Kellert knew each other tangentially via a mutual friend. Stephen Kellert was Gorman’s adviser at Yale School of the Environment. Gorman said that Kellert is “probably the world’s foremost expert in how culture shapes our relationship to nature.”

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Stephen Gorman 450 miles above the Arctic Circle - COURTESY OF STEPHEN GORMAN

  • Courtesy Of Stephen Gorman
  • Stephen Gorman 450 miles above the Arctic Circle

Koren showed his new drawings at the event. BigTown GalleryGorman and Mary, a Rochester, Vt., couple, walked over the gap to meet them. Mary looked at the drawings as they walked in. “Ed has drawn the photographs of your photos,” Mary replied.

Gorman claims that they share a postapocalyptic pathos. My bears, who are climate refugees looking at extinction, wander like the walking dead, eating bones and scavenging for food, are climate refugees. How can these iconic symbols of wilderness be reduced into gristle to survive starvation?!

“Ed’s creatures are equally tragic in that their environment is surrounded by the debris of an extinct world,” he continued. “Both are looking straight into you and asking, “Why did you do that?” “How did we get here?”

Gorman and Koren don’t expect the audience to rush to the barricades or to pursue a campaign to get the world back to preindustrial times. Gorman would not mind, at least.

He said, “It’s important for people to see that this is not just about climate change.” “This is ecological overshoot and climate change is only one symptom. We have overshot our planetary boundaries — the ability of the planet to absorb our waste and regenerate natural resources for our use.

He says, “Consumer capitalism has the potential to destroy the planet.” “I want people leave this exhibition understanding that this problem is systemic and cannot be solved by techno-utopians.

Koren, for his part is philosophical. “Most people don’t pay enough attention. He says, “We’re going about life in the very same ways we’ve always been doing.” “You and me can find many people who complain about the climate, but then go to the Caribbean for a month and then take a tour around the Rhine. It’s mind-numbing. These are people. The environmental movement.”

He says, “All around there is life going on, without any real sense of how each contribution, regardless of how small, is contributing to the messy stew.”

Howard Norman, a friend and novelist who was once a close friend of Koren, wrote about the cartoonist’s “sketches towards the end times” in a recent essay published on Literary Hub. Norman told Koren that he’d given the drawings pessimistic and even threatening titles, such as “Thinking About Extinction”. “But if I had provided more existential captions it might have been the same for every one: ‘Who were we, and what were our thoughts?‘”

Koren says that if we ask these questions, Koren will tell us, “Maybe there is a little spark or light.” While I don’t believe that I will have any influence on anything, it does make my feel like I’ve worked hard for something more important than a “yuk”.

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