Sophie Brussaux Speaks on the Revolutionary Power of Art on Climate Change

“People often forget that all art is a statement about the world we live in. Artists are incredibly aware of climate change, and many want to use their audiences to incite action,”

In New York City, the Metronome Manhattan clock has begun counting down the time before climate change is irreversible. In light of new developments, world governments and humanitarian organizations are inciting new advocacy and action, contributing scientific work and political advocacy. The art world has also begun investing in saving the planet, and individual artists are capturing the everyday catastrophes of the warming world. Organizations like Arts Help are focusing their energies on elevating activist voices and utilize their platform to highlight pathways towards global cooperation.

Managing Editor and journalist Hannah Chew sat down with renowned artist and Co-Founder of Arts Help Sophie Brussaux to discuss the increasing world of climate change art.

“People often forget that all art is a statement about the world we live in. Artists are incredibly aware of climate change, and many want to use their audiences to incite action,” said Brussaux.

Indeed, there is an urgency that must be understood if significant change is to be taken. Brussaux points out the shifting focus of artists well; many are aware that art is derived from the world around them, and climate change is not a occurrence easily ignored. Efforts like Project Climate Change, home of Canada's first Climate Solutions Park located on York University's Keele campus, prove that artistic design is vital in large-scale climate change projects. The park, created in partnership with Arts Help, works to combine functionality, aesthetics, environmentalism, urban planning, and community building.

However, art also carries ideological power in the fight against climate change. The climate crisis and its effects have been staggering, and activist groups are mobilizing as fast as possible. Everyone needs to be involved in fighting climate change, and Brussaux believes large-scale ideological change is possible. 

“Art has a shock factor; it is meant to show big ideas in dramatic ways. In terms of climate change, art can help actualize the abstract feelings of fear we have. It can be quite emotional for both the viewer and the artist, but it is precisely what we need to push people into action.” noted Brussaux.

She points to the reason public art has taken on a new value. The NYC Climate Clock, a 62-foot-wide 15-digit electronic clock in one of the busiest parts of the city, certainly brings the drama. The issue confronts everyday passersby, and the project turns nebulous ideas into a striking visual. Works like this public art are part of the ideological battle climate change fights and are vital to pushing forward scientific and large-scale change. 

Digital platforms have taken on similar responsibilities, such as Arts Help. By elevating the artistic voice through highly engaged multi-pronged digital and social media platforms, it lends its voice and becomes an ally and advocate for the fight against climate change. It is by activating its large community that works of art will awaken otherwise socially asleep individuals. 

Brussaux concluded the interview with a simple reminder, “In fighting climate change, art is an underutilized tool. We need to convince people to act with urgency, and the best way to do so is to create visualizations they cannot ignore. I am hopeful in the fight against climate change, and I believe our world has the potential to work together.”