CapeWomenOnline - Where Cape Women Shine

Your local venue for the women of Cape Cod to share their ideas, experiences and resources while inspiring each other in their life's journey

Inspire . Encourage . Network . Share

Environment banner
  • Facebook icon
  • Share

Exploring Climate Change through Art at the Cotuit Center for the Arts

eARThchange, a visual interpretation of the environmental, social and political impacts of climate change will be on display at Cotuit Center for the Arts, in the upstairs gallery, April 3 through May 4, 2014.

This exhibit features creative responses to climate change in the environment through works presented by theater and art students from Sturgis Public Charter School's East and West Campus, in partnership with the Cotuit Center for the Arts and Barnstable's Growth Management Department.

Under the guidance of their teacher Anna Botsford, the Sturgis students created their own puppets for the show and have embraced the activist nature of the Bread and Puppet Theatre format, which was founded by Peter Schumann in 1963.

"This interactive art form has given voice to political and environmental protests from parades concerning the Vietnam War to challenging housing conditions in New York," explains Anne Healy, a junior IB Theatre student at Sturgis Charter School's West Campus, who is part of the Bread and Puppet Theatre presentation that explores the impact of pollution on ocean life, from seals to seaweed.

"Applying Bread and Puppets concepts to Cape Cod was not as difficult as it would seem, as the practice is a strong supporter of sustainable, environmentally friendly living that does not harm the Earth."

Anne Healey with a dolphin puppet
Anne Healey with a dolphin puppet

"Creating puppets and writing a piece together makes us unified in our efforts to demonstrate the negative effects that plague the Cape, and to inspire efforts to improve Cape Cod." The exhibit will also include several maps illustrating areas in Barnstable that may be affected by sea level rise, coastal storms, and other impacts of climate change.

"Overfishing in order to supply restaurants will also be a prominent theme in one of the two performances, and the effects on depleting the oceans to supply this industry will be developed in the piece," says Anne.

The show is designed to facilitate thoughtful conversations about this challenging topic from an artistic response, enhancing the community understanding of this complex topic.

"Sturgis' efforts to bring a Bread and Puppet Theatre to eARThchange will benefit the program, as it will raise awareness in the community, as well as demonstrate the involvement of the Cape's youth in becoming more understanding of the environmental changes that we will have to make to ensure the sustainability of Cape Cod."

The Town of Barnstable's Growth Management Department believes the arts are an important communication tool. Understanding that a community absorbs and responds to information in diverse ways, facilitating a response to climate change from the arts community fits with their mission.

"Bread and Puppet Theatre has been an extraordinary project to be involved in, both because of the wondrously abstract nature of the practice, but also because of the awareness that it demands from its audienceā€¦it invites a response for change from its audience, and that is exactly what we aim to do as we share the piece with audiences at eARThchange at the Cotuit Center for the Arts."

Climate change has the potential to impact coastal communities such as Barnstable in a variety of ways, including increased flooding; shoreline erosion; salt-water intrusion into drinking water supplies; and possible damage to infrastructure and property.

While it is not yet feasible to forecast exactly how and where these impacts will occur, coastal communities can make policy changes that will reduce their vulnerability and increase their resilience to climate change, while protecting local environments and the communities that depend on them.

"We want the audience to feel something, to feel the necessity of preserving the land we live on, as well as the plants, animals, and other creatures that accompany it. Maintaining synergy with the environment that we inhabit is crucial, and displaying this to the spectators of our performance is one of our main goals. Moving the audience to positive action for Cape Cod is what we would like to do with our project, or at the very least, raise awareness of what is happening to the ecosystem that we are a part of," says Anne.

"Working amongst our peers to highlight the effects of overfishing, tourism, and pollution on Cape Cod through a medium that resides in the juxtaposition of abstract and precise has made each one of us more aware of our impact on the place we live," Anne concludes.

"We are beginning to become more involved in understanding these issues as we research, and comprehend the effects of industry much more than before starting the project. We have had to thoroughly delve into these topics in order to accurately represent them at eARThchange, and aspire to bring that cognizance to the performance, and kindle the curiosity to learn more about the environmental challenges that the Cape has ahead of it."

Some of the students' puppets will be put on display in the upstairs gallery at Cotuit Center for the Arts through May 4, with a final performance of their Bread and Puppet Theatre on Saturday, May 17.

Changing Waters, by Natalie Miebach
Changing Waters, by Natalie Miebach

In the main gallery, Cotuit Center for the Arts will also feature the provocative and unusual work of Nathalie Miebach, whose work focuses on the intersection of art and science, as she translates science data into sculpture, installation and musical scores.

One of Nathalie Miebach's works featured in this exhibit is a 3D musical score that follows the tragic sinking of the fishing vessel, the "Andrea Gail," during the 1991 Halloween Storm, now known as the "Perfect Storm". This exhibition also features sculpture by local artist Phyllis Hartley.

The Town of Barnstable is one of four New England communities partnering with researchers from the Consensus Building Institute (CBI), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) in a two year project that is testing role play simulations as an innovative tool to help coastal communities understand and prepare for the potential impacts of climate change.

Cotuit Center for the Arts mission is to Educate, Entertain, Illuminate, Inspire. A welcoming hub for Cape Cod's artists, performers, students, and audiences, working together to make the creation and experience of art accessible, nurturing, and thrilling to all, CCFTA is located on Route 28 in Cotuit.

The public is invited to a noon brown bag lunch artists talk/lecture on Friday, April 18.

Admission to the galleries at Cotuit Center for the Arts is free.

For more information on this exhibit email Director of Growth Management, Jo Anne Miller Buntich or David Kuehn, Executive Director of Cotuit Center for the Arts

The HyArts Cultural District nurtures and celebrates the creativity and talent of established and emerging Cape Cod artists.