The Disappearing Planet
Penelope Gottlieb’s works of bright color belie a darker message as the artist focuses on themes surrounding endangered and extinct species in the current group exhibition at JoAnne Artman Gallery’s NYC location, Urban Flora. Gottlieb’s beautifully rendered leaves, stems and budding flowers appear in a violent flux that is in stark contrast to their ornamental beauty - a timely message on the shortening timeline for many of today’s plants and animals that are soon to be endangered or extinct.
With the daily barrage of media and breaking news coverage it is easy to lose sight of long-term global issues such as global warming and habitat loss that are responsible for most of the species on the vulnerable and endangered lists. The sum daily impact of global human activity and the havoc we wreak on the environment is impossible to observe at close range, yet the cumulative effects are becoming alarmingly more apparent, especially in terms of our daily lives. Some of the catastrophic environmental impacts of this change can be seen in the ever more devastating annual tropical storms and hurricanes, as well as the dramatic changes via satellite imagery of the melting ice caps. More insidiously, plastics are re-creating the landscape (and seascape) of our world. In a report by the UN to mark World Environment Day (this past Tuesday, June 5th), the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that “microplastics in the seas now outnumber stars in our galaxy” and that “if present trends continue, by 2050 our oceans will have more plastics than fish.”
Though species such as polar bears would seem to be the most affected by the shifting climate, their vulnerable status coming as no surprise as their arctic habitat decreases more year by year, giraffes, a species primarily found in the sub-Saharan savanna, have recently been moved to Vulnerable status. More recently, several types of giraffe have now become listed as endangered. Tiny brown sparrows are a common sight in NYC, yet their population has actually declined by about 50% since 2012. Daily waste reduction and recycling can have a real impact in slowing down some of these trends. The work of artists such as Gottlieb, bring a much needed focus to these issues which are often overshadowed by current media stories, and viral internet memes that populate our newsfeed.
It is all too easy to feel powerless in the face of overwhelming odds yet taking back agency through personal responsibility can be an empowering act of global consciousness.
The easiest way to personally contribute is by making small daily goals that can help establish environmentally conscious habits over time. You don’t have to become a plogger to do good for the environment. In lieu of this, here is our pocket guide in three easy first steps.
- Recycle! The number one thing that can make the biggest impact. Though the guidelines vary state by state, a great guide to the types of plastics and metals and which ones can be recycled can be found here.
- Avoid buying anything with plastic straws, any products containing plastic microbeads, as well as using plastic bottles and plastic shopping bags at stores.
- Use energy efficiently, and public transport whenever possible.
To see Penelope Gottlieb’s mesmerizing works in person, visit us in NYC before Urban Flora closes at the end of this week! 511 A West 22nd St., New York NY 10011 || www.joanneartmangallery.com