Thursday, January 21-Saturday, April 24, 2021
James Balog | Daniel Beltrá | Edward Burtynsky | Chris Jordan | Steve Norton
Expansive in theme and panoramic in scope, this exhibition presents works of art that are visually engaging, impactful, and even beautiful, while conveying the difficult reality that the consequences of human activity have imperiled the Earth. Featuring large-scale photographic works by three nationally and internationally recognized artists, a stunning film installation of one of the largest arctic glacier calving incidents to date, and an arresting soundscape of birds that no longer exist, the exhibition articulates in striking, aesthetic terms the damage inflicted on our ecosystems by human activity.
Population growth and the need for ever-expanding agricultural production, relentless urbanization and energy use, mass consumption, and the proliferating manufacturing of products worldwide are among the root causes of the earth’s predicament today. The consequences are many, ranging from global warming; the degradation and pollution of land, air, and sea; and exponential growth of industrial and commercial waste, to deforestation, along with diminishing habitat and the threat of wildlife extinction. This exhibition presents a visual journey, poignantly bringing into focus a number of these critical issues, the enormity of which are not only ruinous, but difficult for most of us to grasp or fully comprehend.
Even so, as the extraordinary works of these artists reveal—there can be beauty even in the face of the unbearable. Their art stands as a testament and reminder of both the beauty and vulnerability of our planet.
The enormity and significance of glacier melt—breathtaking video footage of the largest glacier calving event filmed to date brings the reality of climate change into vivid focus.
Beltrá's works are gorgeous but excruciating photographic depictions of the rapid and seemingly inexorable deforestation of the Amazon. Also on view are resplendent yet disastrous aerial photographic images of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon gulf oil spill.
Burtynsky's stunning photographic depictions of global industrial landscapes explore the sheer scale of human intervention on the Earth’s surface and the impact that we as a species are having on our planet.
Jordan's photographic imagery, recognizable but almost abstract, symbolizes the scale of global pollution and waste due to mass consumption and acts as a visual reckoning of the culture of “take, use, then discard.”
Norton's beautiful but heart-rending sound installation was created with the recordings of extinct birds and frogs—a reference to the global threat to wildlife and the impending extinction of numerous species.
Towards a Better Future
Thursday, January 28-Saturday, April 10, 2021
Francis T. Eck Exhibition Corridor
This exhibition features a sequence of installations that highlight several research and sustainability initiatives at Virginia Tech to address some of the ecological and environmental challenges of our era, while delineating possible individual and ollective solutions.
Still from the film Chasing Ice (2012)
Jeff Orlowski, producer and director
An Exposure Labs film of the historic breakup at the Ilulissat glacier in Western Greenland documenting one of Balog's research expeditions tracking the planet's disappearing glaciers
Courtesy of Exposure Labs, the artist, and the Earth Vision Institute