Resilience in the Age of Climate Change

Visionary artists and architects explore the specter of a warming planet

Floating A Boulder (2012) by Mary MattinglyArt Works for Change

Will humanity have the tools to adapt, survive and thrive in the age of climate change?

In this exhibit by Art Works for Change, thirteen visionary artists and architects consider the consequences of climate change, including excess heat, drought, flooding, extreme weather events, food insecurity, displacement, and the loss of biodiversity. Through their work, we can visualize the challenges of a warming planet, and discover opportunities to overcome them through innovation and resilience.

Highway #1, Los Angeles, California, USA (2003) by Edward BurtynskyArt Works for Change

In his aerial photographs, Ed Burtynsky captures the sprawling footprint of the oil industry and the transformative impact of automobiles on our environment. Human activity such as driving is a key factor in climate change.

Carbon Sink (2011) by Chris DruryArt Works for Change

In "Carbon Sink," Chris Drury draws a connection between the coal industry and the devastation of pine forests throughout the Northwest by pine beetles. Pine beetle populations have exploded due to rising temperatures.

Night in Qaanaaq (Greenland) (2010) by Sebastian CopelandArt Works for Change

Sebastian Copeland captures the fleeting beauty of polar ice. His work urges us to protect a frozen world that is slipping away, as glaciers recede, sea levels rise, and summer lengthens in the polar regions.

Arctic #20 (2012) by Daniel BeltráArt Works for Change

Daniel Beltrá portrays a polar bear, which relies on sea ice to hunt seals, rest and breed. As Arctic sea ice recedes, polar bears must travel greater distances to hunt and must endure longer summers with limited access to food.

Growing Pains (2010) by Laura BallArt Works for Change

In her watercolor paintings, Laura Ball depicts a colorful tangle of endangered and extinct species that embody biodiversity. Climate change is contributing to mass extinctions as critical habitats change or disappear.

How many of the creatures depicted in Ball's painting will be lost due to climate change?

Beauty Shop (2007) by Lori NixArt Works for Change

Lori Nix creates post-disaster scenes by crafting intricate dioramas and memorializing them in photographs. Climate change contributes to severe weather events, the aftermath of which can be devastating.

Is your community at risk to extreme weather events?

Dry Season (2007) by Mary MattinglyArt Works for Change

Mary Mattingly transports us to a drought-stricken landscape. Global warming reduces snow accumulation, produces earlier snow melt, and increases evaporation and transpiration — all of which conditions contribute to drought.

Manifest Destiny (2004) by Alexis RockmanArt Works for Change

Alexis Rockman depicts the Brooklyn waterfront several hundred years in the future in this cinematic oil painting. Surging seas are a foreseeable outcome of a warming planet and pose a dire threat to many coastal communities.

How would your community be affected by rising sea levels?

Untitled (2015) by Juliette DumasArt Works for Change

To create this work, Juliette Dumas burned materials and then tried to sew the charred remnants back together. She equates this effort to the challenge of managing climate change, suggesting that our ability to rectify mistakes after-the-fact is far from certain.

Lilypad: A Floating Ecopolis for Climate Refugees (2008) by Vincent CallebautArt Works for Change

Opportunities for resilience

Our ability to adapt to the challenges of climate change will require imagination, wisdom, and innovative design. 

Sustainable Cinema No. 5: Dual Windmill (2011) by Scott HesselsArt Works for Change

Scott Hessels creates cinematic machines that combine the earliest animation technologies with clean sources of power. The works refer to a hopeful future in which clean energy is harnessed to support emerging technologies.

HygroSkin, A Meteorsensitive Pavilion (2013) by Achim MengesArt Works for Change

In his Hygroskin project, architect Achim Menges uses the natural properties of wood to release heat build-up naturally. This climate-responsive, biomimetic design is based on the behavior of spruce cones.

Cricket Shelter: Modular Edible Insect Farm (2016) by Mitchell Joachim and Terreform ONEArt Works for Change

The impact of climate change creates an urgent need for both food and shelter solutions. Terreform ONE's Cricket Shelter is a dual-purpose home and modular insect farm bounded into one structure that creates access to a cheap and reliable source of protein.

Heading West (2011) by Mary MattinglyArt Works for Change

Climate change is transforming our planet and presenting daunting challenges to humanity and our fellow creatures. To thrive in the age of climate change, we must be informed, resourceful and resilient. We must educate our communities on climate change and empower them with the tools to adapt to its aftermath. Learn more by visiting our exhibitions entitled "Footing the Bill: Art and Our Ecological Footprint" and "Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience".

Credits: Story

This exhibit is a selection of works from "Footing the Bill: Art and Our Ecological Footprint", an online exhibition created in partnership with Earth Day Network, Global Footprint Network, Oceana, NRDC, and other leading environmental organizations. The architectural concepts of Vincent Callebaut, Achim Menges, and Terreform ONE are featured in "Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience", a traveling museum exhibition that explores adaptable and sustainable housing in the age of climate change. For more information, please contact us at or visit us at

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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