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Carolyn Monastra
Brooklyn, NY



ARTIST STATEMENT: The Witness Tree is a photography project about the effects of climate change around the world. From the melting ice of Antarctica to the wild fires of Australia to the encroaching deserts of Inner Mongolia, I am drawn to precious and precarious places that mark the shifting boundaries between nature and the effects of our not-so-natural disasters. I want to show the eerie, discordant landscapes in our stormy, drying world. I want to capture this life before it goes away and because I want it to live. My work is driven by the emerging dialogue between people who are rooted to their lands, but are (sometimes) innocently uprooted from them. Although many of the landscapes I visited were beautiful, the stories were not: I heard tales of loss of life, property, and valuable natural resources. I spoke with a couple in New Orleans after losing their third home to a hurricane. A homeowner in Nantucket expressed his concerns about how rapidly the ocean was creeping up the beach toward the home he’s owned for forty-six years. A woman in the Canadian Arctic showed me a place where permafrost had made a bridge collapse. It has been a bittersweet journey, but many of the people I met have inspired me. I believe it is possible for our collective environmental efforts to have an impact in creating healthier more sustainable communities. Through presentations, exhibitions, and audience engagement events of The Witness Tree, I hope to translate a general awareness about climate change into a concern and an action to reduce its effects on our world.
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