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2020 Abstracts

Between Earth and Atmosphere: Leveraging Place, Medium, and Metaphor to Address the Global Climate Crisis

Marissa Devey (Utah State University)

Faculty Advisors: Vigneault, Marissa (Caine College of the Arts, Art and Design Department); Winward, Robert (Caine College of the Arts, Art and Design Department)

To those of us who are privileged enough to pad ourselves from the immediate consequences of global climate change, its reality remains an abstract and intangible problem. In the tropical cloud forests of Costa Rica, however, the effects of global warming are readily evident. My research aims to provide a narrative of climate change in the uniquely diverse and delicate cloud forest ecosystem, where I work in partnership with Ph.D. ecology student Jessica Murray. While Jessica uses sensors and datasets to quantify an intricate network of plants, animals, and microorganisms, my intent is to help non-scientists to visualize the implications of Jessica’s findings. My purpose is not to simplify or re-tell Jessica’s research, but to help the viewer connect with unfamiliar, abstract ideas in a visceral, internal way. I leverage paint, poetry, infographics, and abstraction to construct a metaphor for climate ecology: the human body. Working within this metaphor allows me to channel the viewer’s own physical, bodily experiences into an intimate portrait of ecological systems and their vulnerability to climate change. My goal is for viewers to become more conscious of their own ecology-- more aware of their dependence on the environment and more compassionate towards its components.