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The Green Life: Earthy Art That's Visible From Space

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November 23, 2010

Earthy Art That's Visible From Space

350 earth flash flood In a place where residents depend on snowmelt for nearly half their drinking water, dwindling snowpack is a serious concern. But sometimes it takes a creative group effort — and more than science — to get the message across.

On Saturday, more than 1,500 people carrying hand-painted recycled cardboard and blue tarps stood in the riverbed of the Santa Fe River, one of its continent's 10 most endangered rivers. Their goal was to illustrate a vision for flowing water.

The "Flash Flood" installation, organized by the Santa Fe Art Institute, is one of 16 nature-themed projects associated with 350 Earth to highlight climate-change challenges and solutions. “The world’s best scientists have tried to wake up politicians to the climate crisis,” said 350.org founder Bill McKibben. “Now we’re counting on artists to help.”

The call for creativity brings together renowned artists and thousands of volunteers in cities around the world for the first art show large enough to be seen from space. Satellites 400 miles above Earth will document and broadcast the exhibit, which ends on Nov. 27 — just in time for the United Nations climate summit in Cancun, Mexico.

Diane Karp, executive director of the SFAI, believes that if people can work from space to create pictures of sustainability, politicians should be able to craft meaningful climate-change legislation: "Artists are phenomenal at figuring out ways of allowing us to see in a different way the nature of the problem at hand,” she said. “Art has the power to reach the hearts and minds of the people who come into contact with it and inspire them into political action.”

--Molly Oleson /photo courtesy of the Santa Fe Art Institute

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