“Oceans A Rising” is the current chapter in the Neumann/Klebesadel collaborative creative evolution. The focus of their new body of watercolor paintings points to the consequences of our global denial of climate change below the waves: our Ocean’s struggle with over-heated seawaters, acidification and ocean disease.
One of their topics are coral reefs: they are dying all across the world. Damaging activities and rising temperatures cause coral bleaching, which kills the coral. First the corals express their stress in amazing colors, and then, as the algae life on their surface die from heat, they bleach to white. Science indicates that coral reefs around the world could be mostly wiped out by 2050, and the habitats and greater ecosystems they support — will be gone. The loss of coral reefs means cities will lose their protection against big storm surges, fishing and tourism industries could be eliminated, and the ocean may become largely lifeless or at least extremely transformed in ways to effect weather patterns globally. The losses are beneath the ocean but they are critical to the health of the planet we live on.
“Oceans A Rising” features collaboratively painted images from the Ocean, speaking the stories that are being lived out underwater. They ask their audience to reach into their hearts, engage with the painful reality of noticing what climate change has endangered in nature… “is there something you love in harm’s way? What are you moved to do in response?” The artists believe that no action is too small, especially when love is the motivation.
The majority of paintings in this exhibition were created collaboratively. These large-scale watercolors were co-painted by Klebesadel and Neumann, passing the passing the paintings back and forth between them. They discovered that while their individual painting styles were very different, the resulting collaborative paintings were unique. The results are not something that either artist could have created alone. An amazing synergy emerged from their shared feminist values, allowing effective cooperation and creative partnership. As they worked on paintings together, they saw the parallel to what is needed in the larger world. As society faces climate problems, people from diverse backgrounds and beliefs must to learn to communicate and collaborate well across their differences.
“The Flowers are Burning: An Art and Climate Justice Project” was launched as a website and a series of exhibitions in 2015. The collaborating artists evoked a sense of alarm at the urgent need to address climate change. Its title holds up the vision of rising from the ashes of a restorative prairie burn.
Artists Mary Kay Neumann and Helen Klebesadel created this traveling exhibition and climate justice project to bring a more accessible lens through which to approach the devastating consequences of our denial of the climate crises. The artists contend that no one person can make all the changes necessary, but each individual can do something, (like voting for climate conscious candidates) to use what power and skills we have to make positive change. Using the beauty of their incandescent watercolors as a source of strength in the face of adversity, they call upon the power of beauty and love to guide us towards taking action to protect what we love and care deeply about.
Our traveling art show of incandescent watercolor paintings that considers the search for beauty and strength that sustains us in the face of adversity. The flowers are metaphors of power found in unexpected places. Unique to their work are their many collaboratively painted watercolors that they co-create and co-paint, passing the paintings back and forth. Exhibitions are a mixture of individually and collaboratively created artworks in which the energy of flowers burning with beauty AND power is illuminated.
The website is our gallery of paintings, writings, resources, information and inspiration to add to the growing body of wisdom and knowledge as our planet faces the biggest crises in human history: climate change and the injustices the that extreme weather has wrought. We believe every voice is needed as we face this crises together to take care of our shared beloved home: EARTH.
We ask everyone to notice:
What has climate change endangered in nature that you care about?
Is there something you love that is in harm's way?
What are you willing to do about it?