What’s Next for Earth: Depletion Online Exhibition

Michele Guieu | May 4, 2021 | Leave a Comment

What's Net For Earth Depletion Art Call

Michalina W. Klasik (Poland) Polish Landscape (detail)

"Acting without this understanding is like putting a bandage on a life-threatening injury." Not enough people understand what is really at stake with the converging crisis we face. The media is caught between instilling fear and greenwashing. We need to get educated if we want to act. Artists can play a major role in spreading an urgent message.

Thanks to all the artists who contributed to the Depletion art call, based on Think Resilience, the Post Carbon Institute’s free online course. To respond to the art call, we asked the artists to signup and to watch the beginning of the course.
Lesson 1: Introduction
Lesson 2: Energy
Lesson 3: Population and Consumption (precedent art call)
Lesson 4: Depletion

Each video is approximately 12 minutes long.

“Today we consume resources at a far higher rate than any previous civilization. We can do this mainly due to our reliance on a few particularly useful nonrenewable and depleting resources, namely fossil fuels. Energy from fossil fuels enables us to mine, transform, and transport other resources at very high rates; it also yields synthetic fertilizers to make up for our ongoing depletion of natural soil nutrients. This deep dependency on fossil fuels of course raises the question of what we will do as the depletion of fossil fuels themselves becomes more of an issue.”
Full transcript of the video here.

Think Resilience is hosted by Richard Heinberg, one of the world’s leading experts on the urgency and challenges of moving society away from fossil fuels.

We live in a time of tremendous political, environmental, and economic upheaval. What should we do? Think Resilience is an online course offered by Post Carbon Institute to help you get started on doing something. It features twenty-two video lectures—about four hours total—by Richard Heinberg, one of the world’s foremost experts on the urgency and challenges of transitioning society away from fossil fuels. Think Resilience is rooted in Post Carbon Institute’s years of work in energy literacy and community resilience. It packs a lot of information into four hours, and by the end of the course you’ll have a good start on two important skills:

1. How to make sense of the complex challenges society now faces. What are the underlying, systemic forces at play? What brought us to this place? Acting without this understanding is like putting a bandage on a life-threatening injury.

2. How to build community resilience. While we must also act in our individual lives and as national and global citizens, building the resilience of our communities is an essential response to the 21st century’s multiple sustainability crises.

Featured artists

Marianne Bickett, Michele Guieu, Pascal Ken, Deborah Kennedy, Michael Kerbow, Michalina W. Klasik, Andrew Lackland, Suzette Marie Martin, Quin de la Mer, Cristian Pietrapiana, Tessa Teixeira, Marcela Villaseñor.

What’s Next for Earth’s Instagram.

Michalina W. Klasik (Poland)
Instagram: @michalinawklasik
Polish Landscape 
digital print on fragments of recycled cotton paper
The work consists of 162 modules, each measuring 25×14,3cm, the surface dimensions of the entire work are 150x380cm, 2021.

Poland leads among European countries in the ranking of logging intensity. Over the past twenty years, the level of deforestation has almost doubled here. The oldest and most valuable forests are systematically cut down. In addition, the amendment to the act on renewable energy adopted by the government allows the oldest and most valuable trees for ecosystems to be burned in power plants.

– I can also see it in ”my” forest. Every wander there is imprinted with bright orange spots – the paint, marking the trees to be cut, “glows” from the next and next trunks. too many. the orange spots stay under my eyelids when I return from the forest. along with this image comes a fear of the future.

Deforestation\destruction of old forests is one of the main reasons for the massive extinction of species; it is also one of the main factors leading us towards a climate catastrophe.

Photos: Michalina W. Klasik ©2021

Andrew Lackland (Ithaca, NY, US)
Instagram: @eggeyed
What to Take With Us
Figures consist of wire fencing, concrete, burlap, acrylic paint, glue, and mud.
The installation is currently at Handwerker Gallery @handwerkergallery
Photos: Andrew Lackland ©2021

Suzette Marie Martin (North Adams, Massachusetts, US)
Instagram: @szttmrtn
Dryads of the Anthropocene series (painting in progress)

The 48” diameter tree stump in this painting is a life-scale representation of the typical size of mature Eastern White Pine, before colonial exploitation of “New World” forests. 

Depletion of natural resources is not just a 20th-21st Century issue. During the 17th and 18th centuries, mature white pines in the 13 Colonies were claimed by the Crown and reserved for building the British Royal Navy. Prior to their exploitation, it was common for white pines in the “New World” to reach heights of over 200 ft, diameters of 3-5 feet, with a lifespan of 200-450 years.

Pinus Strobus grown in timber plantations are usually harvested at 20-30 years old.
The pine tree stumps in the last photo were found while hiking along a power line trail in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Their size indicates between 40-60 years of age.

Seedlings planted today will not reach full maturity until 2220.

Photo: Suzette Marie Martin ©2021

Deborah Kennedy (California, US)
Instagram @deborahkennedyart
Changed Climate

Detail of an installation. This installation invites viewers to contemplate our current ecological crises. The books in this artwork, now rendered inaccessible, contain images of a thriving natural world now either gone or damaged and important scientific information concerning our declining environment. Ecological challenges explored in these books include rising rates of species extinction, ocean acidification, the death of coral reefs, forest mortality, pollution of our air and water, as well as an increasingly damaged climate. 

Climate change, our most pressing problem, is accelerating many of these environmental challenges, and may soon threaten the stability of our societies as food and water become more expensive and scarce. To protect our planet and ensure a healthy future for ourselves, our children, and the natural world, we must be guided by good science and the life-sustaining systems of nature.  

Depletion of knowledge!

Photo: Deborah Kennedy ©2021

Quin De La Mer (Indian Wells, California, US)
Instagram: i3rstudios
Unknowable Tomorrows

B&W photo taken with a Holga 120N, double exposure, caffenol processing, sea salt fix, 2021. 

Breathing Holes, caged-contained-“protected” spaces. Breathing Holes, left relatively wild, not to prevent them from being depleted, but rather to make places for humans to safely enjoy nature’s bounty. These spaces, scattered here and there across this world… I call them Breathing Holes, and when I am within the boundaries, the more than human voices are alive and talkative. Together we look out beyond the edges that press in with their desire to consume, and we feel the massive human engine that never rests… A machine extracting, harvesting, devouring with insatiable hunger.

…fighting to exist in Unknowable Tomorrows

Photo: Quin de la Mer ©2021

Cristian Pietrapiana (NYC, US)
Instagram: @cristianpietrapiana

Resources are limited-wants are unlimited… time to rethink how and what we consume. The Post Carbon Institute offers free and clear online courses. Think Resilience, check it out! 

Photo: Cristian Pietrapiana ©2021

Michael Kerbow (San Francisco, California)
Instagram: @michaelkerbow 
Fool’s Gold

As it is Earth Day today, I thought I would share an older work of mine that was intended as a critique of our consumptive society. I drew it several years ago as a preparatory study for my painting “Fool’s Gold”. The image is an allegory about the folly of human beings and our industrialized society. We continue to consume natural resources at an alarming rate, and yet we seem oblivious to the unsustainability of it all. We dig ever deeper in our frantic pursuit to consume more and more. Left unchecked, we will eventually be confronted by the inevitable conclusion, that all this time we have been digging our own grave.

Our world can provide everything we will ever need if we can avoid treating it as if it were an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Photo: Michael Kerbow ©2021

Tessa Teixeira (Johannesburg, SA)
Instagram: @tessateixeira.artpractice

Soapground Aquatint Etching Edition
Image size: 27.5 by 22.2cm – paper size: 50 by 35cm

The “artificial white cloud” is a visible S.O.S for us all, to transition to more renewable Energy sources – Our excessive energy reliance and depletion of non – renewable Fossil fuels is the biggest challenge we face in the 21st Century – extracting and burning fossil fuels, directly exacerbating and causing the Greenhouse effect, resulting in increased temperatures globally, and the current and future challenges we all face with Climate Change.

Photo: Tessa Teixeira ©2021

Marianne Bickett (Oregon, US)
Instagram: @mariannalmaremoments
The eye in the center of the pseudo book cover is of an old, depleted person with an oil drilling machine as the iris.

The analogy between a depleted body and a depleted earth is not far out connection. Quality of life on earth suffers as we deplete our planet of fossil fuels, fish, forests, and on and on. But always, always, there is hope if enough of us become truly aware of the crisis and take meaningful action. This “book” never needs to be published!!

Photo: Marianne Bickett ©2021

Marcela Villaseñor (California, US)
Instagram: @mvillasenor
digital photography

Ban the pesticides, nicotine culprits, Clorpyriphos, Cypermethrin, Deltamethrin, and Fipronil from Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Dow, and Bayer.

Photo: Marcela Villaseñor ©2021

Pascal Ken (Saint-Brévin-Les-Pins, France)
Instagram: @pascalken
Retrouver la Raison
Regaining Sensibility
15x15cm Mixed media
Digital collage from photo transfers, ink, acrylic & handwriting

Photo: Pascal Ken ©2021

Michele Guieu (Sunnyvale, California, US)
Instagram: @micheleguieu
Climate Change, Deep Dependency on Oil and Oil Depletion
Digital collage

Talking about oil when thinking about depletion seems counterintuitive, and I was surprised to see that the video on “Depletion”, part of the Think Resilience free online course by the Post Carbon Institute was pretty much entirely about the importance of fossil fuels – especially oil. Our modern society relies heavily on fossil fuels, especially oil. Oil plays an essential role in the extraction of resources, their transformation into products, and transportation (air, sea, land). With topsoils depleting quickly worldwide, fossil fuels also play an essential role in industrial agriculture, where they are used to make synthetic fertilizers. Whether we see it or not, oil is everywhere in our daily lives. Products containing petroleum are countless. Plastic is a plague, but it is also a fantastic product – can you imagine hospital equipment without it? The shift away from oil includes finding replacements [at scale] for all the products we are using daily. 

Not enough seems to be changing right now to shift away from oil. Despite the growth of wind and solar as energy sources, 85% of our energy needs still depend on fossil fuels, especially oil. Wind and solar represent less than 5% of the energy production worldwide. CO2 emissions continue to grow. Shifting from oil is a necessary but daunting task.  According to the Post Carbon Institute, as we move to lower quality fuels or ones that are harder to extract, the ratio of Energy Returned on Energy Invested (or EROEI) falls. In the early days of the oil industry, energy returns of a hundred-to-one were routine; in today’s petroleum industry, returns of ten-to-one are more common.

Because it is a non-renewable energy source, we will face depletion if we do not make the transition. So what will happen first: oil depletion or a radical and complex shift from our deep dependency on oil?

Photo: Michele Guieu ©2021

What’s Next For Earth is an art project created by Michele Guieu, eco-artist and MAHB Arts Community Coordinator, to reflect on the climate emergency, the human predicament and envision a desirable future. The project is supported by the MAHB.
If you have any questions, please send a message to michele@mahbonline.org.
Thank you ~

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