Art As Awareness

Cristián Pietrapiana | February 2, 2021 | Leave a Comment

Cristián Pietrapiana Art as Awareness

Dyptic (detail), mixed media on paper, 20×16 inches each, 2018 –  Cristián Pietrapiana © 2021

“If we keep rising carbon dioxide levels, we may not be able to think straight anymore. At a thousand parts per million (which is within the realm of possibility for 2100), human cognitive ability falls 21 percent”.
Bill McKibben

Cristián Pietrapiana Grid One
Cristián Pietrapiana © 2021

Global Grid
mixed media on paper, 20×16″ each individual piece, 2018

Around four years ago, I lost my studio space so had to adapt to a table at home. No large canvases, no big mess. I miss it. Just by chance I started to dribble on the news I was reading. That is how I started making interventions on newspapers around headlines/images that I began to highlight based on a specific message. 

I am not a scientist, just a visual artist. I have been doing my share of reading about climate change for quite some time. I even tried to boil it down to three basic questions/answers to accompany the presentations I make in my exhibitions. 

Cristián Pietrapiana Cattle
Cristián Pietrapiana © 2021

mixed media on paper, 20×16 inches, 2019

Why have I been incorporating the overarching theme of climate change into my work? Well, why not take advantage of every opportunity and every platform available, in order to make it part of the conversation.

Art has many purposes and can make us feel a range of emotions. What I like particularly about painting and drawing is that the static, quiet image forces you to stop, observe, and read it. No moving images, no audio, no gimmicks, no distractions.

In a way, this simple, basic series of work, is a humble invitation for viewers to read, analyze the news, pay attention to the context and apply independent, critical thinking. The entire series is titled Diaries, and most pieces revolve around the many aspects of global warming.

Cristián Pietrapiana Arctic
Cristián Pietrapiana © 2021

mixed media on paper, 20×16 inches, 2018

When people tell me that climate change is an enormous wave coming at us (already here as far as science is concerned) and that their actions won’t count, I humbly respond by saying: If someone is diagnosed with emphysema, will that person still keep smoking? Wouldn’t s/he quit or cut down on cigarettes?

Today, we must pay attention to where the news is coming from and the enormity of powers behind it. It is especially imperative that our children understand this, and the need to relay it to following generations.

Cristián Pietrapiana © 2021

mixed media on paper, 20×16 inches each, 2019

Again, art has many forms of expression and purposes, but personally, I think that the most important aspect of art is that it makes us think.

Think about the state of the world. Think about our choices and their consequences. Think about plastic. Think about our habits and what we consume. Identify what we need versus our wants… 

Consumers, voters, readers, in short- participants- have power. So long as they are aware, and willing to act upon it.

“Carbon dioxide levels today are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years… Carbon dioxide concentrations are rising mostly because of the fossil fuels that people are burning for energy”.

Indulge me with a final quote from Yuval Noah Harari from Sapiens:

The Agricultural Revolution certainly enlarged the sum total of food at the disposal of humankind, but the extra food did not translate into a better diet or more leisure. Rather, it translated into population explosion and pampered elites. The average farmer worked harder than the average forager and got a worse diet in return. The Agricultural Revolution was history’s biggest fraud.   

Cristián PietrapianaOriginally from Buenos Aires, Pietrapiana lives and works in New York City. His work explores the vulnerability of human nature and its environment.     
For more information please visit or follow him on Instagram @cristianpietrapiana

This article is part of the MAHB Arts Community‘s “More About the Arts and the Anthropocene”. If you are an artist interested in sharing your thoughts and artwork, as it relates to the topic, please send a message to Michele Guieu, Eco-Artist and MAHB Arts Community coordinator: Thank you. ~

The views and opinions expressed through the MAHB Website are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the MAHB. The MAHB aims to share a range of perspectives and welcomes the discussions that they prompt.