A Conversation with Mo Ghoneim: Art and Climate Change Solutions
As the climate crisis moves from numerical predictions to real-world wildfires, floods, and storms, leaders look towards every field for solutions. On the surface, the art world does not provide many concrete answers, but it may provide an invaluable platform for dialogue and empathy in solving this crisis. Organizations like Arts Help have geared their programming towards elevating activist voices, encouraging art to stretch beyond its aesthetic purposes and affect ideology and change.
Editorial Coordinator and journalist Hannah Chew sat down with award-winning media professional and Co-Founder of Arts Help Mo Ghoneim to discuss the pivotal role of art and climate activism.
“Art creates a platform for thought and discussion that is often restricted, and allows people to push the boundaries of imagination. We need that imagination to come up with innovative solutions and look towards the future.” said Ghoneim.
Ghoneim raises the point that an aesthetic artistic lens gives a very different picture of the issue, and therefore a very different set of solutions to the climate crisis. His own work reflects this method, and as a founding member of Project Climate Change, home of Canada's first Climate Solutions Park located on York University's Keele campus, Ghoneim proves that artistic considerations help design new avenues of change. The project involves the collaboration between many organizations, and in turn seamlessly combines functionality, environmentalism, urban planning, and artistic design. This model of cooperation is essential in forming global solutions and bridging the differences between various perspectives.
Art also empowers individuals and emboldens communities, giving a clear voice to activism around the globe. Ghoneim noted, “When artists express their emotions or desire for change, millions of people may see it over many platforms, making them consider new perspectives and ideas. People want to take action, and when political, economic, and social leaders see that, they understand that environmental values and calls for change are growing.”
Media platforms have also begun to recognize that in order to promote sustainability and climate action, they must change public consciousness of climate change. By constantly highlighting key voices of the movement, especially through artistic means, arts organizations will help guide society towards greater climate consciousness. Arts Help aims to provide that essential platform for artists to grow and adapt on. As social media dominates the world of public exposure, museums and galleries have been slow to change. However, Arts Help embraces the technological advances, and constantly learns how to better serve the artist-activist community.
Although art, like any other field, is not the sole solution to the climate crisis, it is another piece of the puzzle in solving the societal and ideological crises of the twenty-first century.
Ghoneim closed with powerful words, “We cannot ignore the power of art. It empowers individuals and societies alike to strive towards the greater good. It encourages open and productive dialogue. While we struggle with the coming of climate change, we can look towards art for a new perspective and set of solutions.”