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Art that points toward a sustainable future in the middle of a climate crisis

"Pink Sky and the Flying Fish," 2021, by Fatima Franks on view in "The Anthropocene Epiphany" exhibit.
“Pink Sky and the Flying Fish,” 2021, by Fatima Franks on view in “The Anthropocene Epiphany” exhibit.
(Courtesy of OCCCA)

As a record-breaking heatwave hits the West Coast that’s been attributed to climate change, a group of artists explore the topic in a Santa Ana art gallery.

The Orange County Center for Contemporary Art put an international call out for “The Anthropocene Epiphany: Art and Climate Change” exhibit. The show is centered on Anthropocene, a time period in which humans have a significant impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems. Artists responded with work across all mediums — painting, drawing, collage, photography, sculpture, video, installations and fashion pieces.

Some depict the effects of pollution like artist Fatima Franks, who works with digital mixed media collages. In “Pink Sky and the Flying Fish,” the Cal State Fullerton graduate illustrates the idea of how capitalism and consumerism thrives while the planet suffers.

Two headless men in corporate suits and ties sit on Victorian-style chairs in the forefront of the collage. While factories in the background pump away waste and industrial smog. Franks describes the flying fish as a symbol of resolve, hope and the discovery of better outcomes.

"Summer in Hades," 2020, by Catherine Bennaton on view at “The Anthropocene Epiphany" exhibit.
“Summer in Hades,” 2020, by Catherine Bennaton on view at “The Anthropocene Epiphany” exhibit.
(Courtesy of OCCCA)

Los Angeles-based artist Catherine Bennaton also considers the apocalyptic aesthetic of landscape in “Summer in Hades,” in which she paints an image of a California fire.

Beverly Jacobs started out as a scientist. The now Irvine-based artist creates ceramic sculptures. “Topsy Turvy” is a sculpture composed of stacked ceramic pieces in a totem structure. It’s topped with a ceramic piece that appears to be a house. In the sculpture’s description, Jacobs wrote, “Humans have devastated our environment, resulting in grave climate changes...What hit these houses? A hurricane? Cyclone? Failure of rain soaked, oversaturated soil?”

"Topsy Turvy," by Beverly Jacobs on view at “The Anthropocene Epiphany" exhibit.
“Topsy Turvy,” by Beverly Jacobs on view at “The Anthropocene Epiphany” exhibit.
(Courtesy of OCCCA)

Artist Pallavi Sharma, located in San Ramon, explores geo-political issues in her work often focusing on Asian American women’s cultural production and activism. “Beyond Rituals” is an installation of five rolls of toilet paper suspended above five lotas (brass pots) used by villagers to carry water for early morning rituals in India.

In the description, Sharma wrote, “As the paper scrolls down into the lotas, it resembles flowing water; intends to start a discourse on interrelationship of cultural practices and its impact on ecology and consciously think about our lifestyle choices and habits.”

Other artists capture ideas on mundane human experiences, nostalgia for nature or environmentally sustainable art practices like the use of recycled materials.

"Beyond Rituals," 2010, by Pallavi Sharma on view through the “The Anthropocene Epiphany" exhibit.
“Beyond Rituals,” 2010, by Pallavi Sharma on view through the “The Anthropocene Epiphany” exhibit.
(Courtesy of OCCCA)

If you go
What: “The Anthropocene Epiphany: Art and Climate Change”
When: July 3 to Aug. 21; Monday through Wednesday by appointment or Friday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Where: OCCCA, 117 N. Sycamore, Santa Ana
Cost: Free
Info: www.occca.org

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