I paint about what life will be like when climate change gets worse¦
That’s just what I do. That’s my message to the world.
Those words were written by a young man whose exhibition of paintings is currently showing at a gallery in my home city Hamilton. I was impressed by both the paintings and the brief words which accompanied them and thought them well worth sharing with Hot Topic readers.
Yaniv Janson is only 18 but his painting has already received considerable recognition. Born with Asperger’s syndrome he has certainly found communication through his art. And he makes it very clear that he wants it to serve a social purpose. His website carries the heading Raising Awareness About Climate Change Through Art.
The exhibition presently on view is titled Visualising Climate Change: How long til the water rises? He provides a short statement of what he has attempted in his paintings.
“Scientists write papers and show graphs about climate change but the truth is that most people in the world are not brave enough to face it, or they think the problems are too big for them to deal with and it is easier just to forget about it and enjoy life with no worries.”
He writes of what climate change is doing:
“…making it worse for people to live on Earth, houses are lonely in the wind, oceans will rise and take people’s houses away, some plants will not survive the changes in their environment.
“I think about these things and read about them in books. I paint pictures of what it will look like if we don’t stop climate change.”
One of the paintings is titled People Yelling Out for Help.
Here is what he says about it on his blog:
“… I offer a different contribution: I feel there is already a lot of information out there, but it has failed to result in significant action. I want to create an emotional response with images of the future. What will happen when the sea level rises? Houses and land will disappear under water for ever!… I especially drew a thin line for the earth on this painting – to show how fragile this balance is.”
Another picture is titled One Minute Before The Tsunami.
In his words:
“…shows a very peaceful landscape with calm atmosphere, with dolphins jumping in the water and beautiful gardens with great views. The people don’t know that the tsunami is coming but we know how much destruction could result.
“Water is an important element for life and the problem with changes in the climate is that no one can predict what will happen to this resource, and what even a few degrees change will create. Rising sea levels and possible tide changes can create havoc in our environment.”
Not sophisticated expressions of the science perhaps, but he goes to the heart of the matter.
There will be some who consider that it’s unwise for an artist to commit to a cause in this way and who look askance at the notion of a conscious “message” conveyed by paintings. But Yaniv isn’t deterred. His forthcoming book is titled Changing the World One Painting at a Time and it’s dedicated to raising awareness about climate change. (It will be shortly be available through Amazon, where an earlier book is listed.) It includes a teacher resource appendix compiled by Yaniv’s mother Annick Janson, an educational psychologist and researcher, directed to teachers wanting to teach sustainability/climate change through art.
Incidentally Yaniv isn’t the first member of the Janson family to be mentioned on Hot Topic. His soil scientist father Robin featured in a previous post on carbon farming.
In my visit to the exhibition I was cheered by the awareness of the young artist and his determination to speak of it through his paintings. It was a relief from the daily dismay I feel at the relative ignorance and indifference of many in older generations towards the seriousness of the gathering threat.