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Delivering Messages Through Art: The Canary Project
Sarah Kuck, 7 Jan 09

There are times when a problem is so big we might not even recognize its importance at first. Maybe we are too distracted, too busy, or for whatever reason just not receiving the message. But perhaps if delivered differently, messages about a problem can break through whatever barriers are keeping them from getting to us.

The Canary Project is a new organization whose very mission is to deliver messages about climate change differently. Using artistic mediums of all kinds, the creators of The Canary Project collaborate to present information about climate change in more visual ways. The nonprofit organization is using professional photography, performance art, fashion and graphic design to help provide a bridge between the types of messages we typically hear concerning climate change.

“I think the way that people get information about climate change, through mass media and scientific communication is valuable, but they have limitations,” said Canary Project Executive Director Edward Morris. “Mass media has a tendency to rely on anxiety and entertainment, while scientists can be almost too quantitative, and cautious. People can have a difficult time getting their head around it.”

“Art can help build a bridge between the two, in terms of giving people something visceral and affective to grasp.”

Morris founded The Canary Project with his wife, photographer Susannah Sayler, to investigate climate change though images. Morris said he became inspired to create the project after reading a series of articles from Elizabeth Kolbert, which transformed his ideas about how urgent the challenge truly is.

Solar%20Ballerinas.pngThe Canary Project is working diligently to disperse their visual messages in as many places as possible, from trendy galleries to city sidewalks, public buses to museums. They have exhibited their work on the streets of Brooklyn, teaming up with local artists to create a public art series called 40°, 73°: Works at the Intersection of Art and Ecology; They've displayed images of climate change on city buses in partnership with the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. Now they’re working in another artistic medium: sound. They have partnered with Story Corps to collect and record personal stories told by people who are already witnessing the effects of climate change on their local landscape. The Canary Project's work is seemingly appearing everywhere, and is probably coming to a city near you in the near future.

People learn in different ways. Some learn better through listening, others reading, or through doing. Messages about climate change need to come in all forms to make sure everyone has the information they need to make important decisions. The Canary Project is visionary for its relentless drive to deliver messages about the climate crisis in new ways. Their work helps inform some, while shaking awake others who've simply not been paying attention. Their passion is impressive, and it’s inspiring to see an organization so dedicated to creating information about climate change in breathtaking, beautiful and sometimes experimental ways.

Image credit: Benoît Maubrey, from his show One Week in the Life of a Solar Ballerina: Site specific installation & Performance with solar-powered wearable sound devices

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Hello, It's nice to see the direction you are taking with your organization. As a former Tribeca artist/builder now working upstate New York I daily see the changes taking place in the environment...birds feeding/flying habits, indiscriminate log cutting, weird,and weirder weather patterns, some of which I have been observing with my camera. I would enjoy the opportunity of sharing this view further.

Posted by: Joshua Hoffman, Joshuas Trees on 14 Jan 09

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