Thursday, February 2, 2023

'0.4 degrees Celsius away from catastrophe': Exhibit confronts climate crisis

October 6, 2022
<p>Guest admiring Sullivan’s exhibit “1.5 Degrees Celsius” in the MSU Museum. Photo courtesy of MSU Museum.</p>

Guest admiring Sullivan’s exhibit “1.5 Degrees Celsius” in the MSU Museum. Photo courtesy of MSU Museum.

Curator and College of Music professor Mark Sullivan says that his newest exhibit is “part of (the) vision for the future of the MSU Museum, to get the museum out of the museum.”

“A Few Degrees of Change,” curated in collaboration with Abhishek Narula, Dr. Julie Libarkin, Caroline White, Devon Akmon and Hadley Griffin will be open to the public until Nov. 23 in the (SCENE) Metrospace, located at 110 Charles St., just off campus underneath the Division St. Garage. A reception will be held on Oct. 7 from 6 to 8 p.m.

The works ask visitors to examine the scope of their environmental impact and the ways their lives are linked to the well-being of the environment. In a press release, organizers wrote that they hope visitors will “start to imagine new ways of addressing the social and environmental issues connected to climate change.”

The gallery includes everything from large sculptural installations to purely auditory art – created by graduates of the MSU college of music – to the work of an artist who has developed a process that purifies human bio-waste into ultra-durable concrete or renewable dyes.

Sullivan attempted to create a diverse collection that engages visitors across all ages and interests.

“We're trying to show people that going to a museum doesn't have to involve looking at things under glass cases, or stuffed creatures that used to exist," Sullivan said. "It might be picking up a VR-headset and walking through woods with the creatures."

This new exhibit is being offered in conjunction with the MSU museum’s “1.5 Degrees Celsius” exhibition, which opened in September and will run until Feb. 23.

When Sullivan first solicited entries for the MSU museum’s exhibit, he received 185 entries, but only 15 were chosen to fit into the museum. He said this new exhibit gives him a chance to feature more of the submissions, especially those of MSU students, faculty and alumni.

Dr. Carolyn Loeb, an associate professor of art and architectural history, has done research on the political power of art in Soviet Berlin. She believes the persuasive power of art could be at work here too.

"Since all of us learn or are stimulated in a variety of ways … art can provide one way to help us think about these important issues such as climate change," Loeb wrote in an email. "Maybe this format will click with us in a way that other means haven’t.”

However, Sullivan says that the curators aren’t too concerned with convincing climate skeptics.

“We're not particularly interested in talking to people sitting in a burning house, who think it's not burning," Sullivan said. “We want to find out what we can do in the little bit of time we've got left to put out that fire.”

Editor’s note: A change was made at 4:10 p.m. on Oct. 7 to reflect all of curators who contributed to the exhibit.

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