Survey of Climate Artists


Dawn Stetzel

pack - 2019 - Dawn Stetzel - link

Dawn Stetzel is a multimedia artist and sculptor that creates pieces in conversation with specific environments. As stated in their artist statement in 2019, they create works which, “might feel somehow desolate to me, vast, or lonely due to environmental neglect.” For Stetzel, exploring these regions is simultaneously a practice of the future, examining new ways of living, and also of introspection, looking at inner tension amongst environmental destruction.

Pack, a project centered around perseverance through environmental doom, also highlights an important pollutant finding its way into the Earth’s oceans. The packing material styrofoam contains multiple chemical agents, including the flame retardant called HBCD, or Hexabromocyclododecanes. Beyond plastics-based pollution causing navigational and physical issues for animals, HBCD’s have been shown to be picked up by animals using styrofoam waste as a habitat (mussels). These pollutants can potentially get carried up the food cycle to larger animals, including even humans.

a life raft constructed from coolers floating in the ocean with a person riding it Liferaft - 2020 - Dawn Stetzel - link (opens new window)

Editor’s note: What strikes me about Stetzel’s work is the deft and nimble movements throughout aesthetics and climate commentary. All of their pieces exhibit, to my eyes, a perfect balance of elements and a fine attention to scale. Although composed of found materials, their work shows an extreme attention to both the “glue” connecting waste items and to maintaining distinct and visceral imagery of pollution.

a backpack that looks like houses smushed together Backpack - 2013 - Dawn Stetzel - link (opens new window)

Made by Annie Tor and Dieter Brehm