Connected \\ December 23, 2022
PEM's 2023 Climate Conversations Focus on Candor and Possibility
The most important thing any single one of us can do to fight climate change is talk about it.
– Katharine Hayhoe, climate scientist and author
It has been an eventful time at PEM since we launched our Climate + Environment Initiative in the spring of 2021. I am so grateful to be at an institution that is actively seeking out opportunities to raise awareness about our planetary emergency – and what we can all do about it. In addition to hosting an array of climate events and exhibitions, we’ve embarked on an ambitious effort to make our exhibition creation more sustainable and earned an award for our commitment to energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
I am particularly excited about two upcoming virtual programs that highlight the importance of conversation in this arena. Talking about the climate crisis is so vital to our ability to imagine and move towards a more positive climate future.
Our first program, “A Climate Conversation with Elizabeth Kolbert” on January 12, is a rare opportunity to hear directly from one of the nation’s leading climate writers. Kolbert, who has been writing about environmental topics from extinction to carbon emissions for the past two decades, will be joined by the artists featured in Down to the Bone, Edward Koren and Stephen Gorman. Koren credits Kolbert’s award-winning book The Sixth Extinction as the spark that ignited his own Thinking About Extinction series of drawings, four of which appear in Down to the Bone. This virtual event represents the final public program before this memorable show closes on February 5. If you haven’t seen these works in person yet, I urge you to visit!
Edward Koren, Ripples of Foreboding, 2016. Pen and ink on paper. Gift of the artist, 2022. Peabody Essex Museum. © Edwark Koren.
Artist Edward Koren; Jane Winchell, co-curator of Down to the Bone; and photographer Stephen Gorman in the gallery. Photo by Dinah Cardin/PEM.
Then, on February 9, PEM will host “Speaking from the Heart: An Open Dialogue on Climate Action.” Co-hosted with Rare, this special online event inspired by Climate Action: Inspiring Change brings together a panel of youth activists and climate professionals to share their wisdom and motivations as they imagine new possibilities together. You’ll meet Jordan Sanchez, a Harvard University student and spoken word poet; Noela Altvater (Passamaquoddy), a student at Washington County Community College and award-winning community water activist; Natalia Jacobs, a Bates College freshman who was part of the planning team for the 2022 Western Mass Youth Climate Summit; Miranda Massie, founding director of The Climate Museum; and Kevin Green, leader of Rare’s Center for Behavior & Environment, which harnesses behavioral science to help mobilize individual action into large-scale change.
Anjali Mitra, The Seas Are Rising, So Are We, 2020. “Climate Hope: Transforming Crisis” contest entry. Bay State Award, High School. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs Inc.
Online audiences at both events will be encouraged to join in during the Q&A. My hope is that these conversations will ripple outward and lead to other candid exchanges in homes and offices, in classrooms and around dinner tables. Everyone needs to feel they have a voice in this critically important story that is unfolding in our time. There is still time for us to work together to envision a different climate future, but we’ll need courage, fortitude and vision to make it happen.
PEM’s Climate + Environment Initiative continues with more upcoming programming and exhibitions, including a dynamic and inspiring international exhibition coming to PEM in February 2024. Stay tuned!
The New Yorker recently looked back at Ed Koren’s 60-year career with the magazine, including more than a thousand cartoons and thirty-one covers, and counting. It also gives the brief backstory of how Koren and Stephen Gorman teamed up for Down to the Bone. “It’s vague to me how my work transformed into these skeletal figures with their melancholy, and the tragicomic gaze in their eyes,” Koren told the magazine. “The tragedy is climate change and its effects. What’s comical—that might seem like a shocking word—is the link between these woebegone creatures, their fate in the world, and ours. The hopelessness and haplessness of it all. We’re pulling the trigger on them and, we don’t yet seem to understand, upon ourselves.”
TOP IMAGE: Edward Koren, Thinking About Extinction II (detail), 2016. Lithograph. Gift of the artist, 2022. Peabody Essex Museum. © Edward Koren.