Past Event

Current Effects

April 15, 2021
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

This panel will focus on the effects of climate change on existing ecosystems. Artists and scientists discuss how they each train an interpretive lens on the natural world. Reading and learning from humans, animals, and objects in a changing world, artists and scientists help make viewers aware of our larger and more holistic connection to the world. 

Sandra Goldmark will moderate a conversation among Catherine Chalmers, Ruth DeFries, and James Prosek to investigate how we might apply the lessons of both art and science to the many challenges of climate change.

Presented by Mana Contemporary in partnership with the The Earth Institute at Columbia University and the Columbia Climate School.


Engineer and artist Catherine Chalmers confronts the anthropocentric view of the world in her work. Her interdisciplinary works provide heavily researched and nuanced results that are also intimate and emotive. She considers the insects and other small creatures represented in her works to be collaborators; filming, photographing, and following the behaviors of more than a dozen colonies of leafcutter ants on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. Chalmers holds a BS in engineering from Stanford University and an MFA in painting from the Royal College of Art in London. 

Ruth DeFries is a professor of ecology and sustainable development at Columbia University in New York. She uses images from satellites and field surveys to examine how the world’s demands for food and other resources are changing land use throughout the tropics. Her research quantifies how these land use changes affect climate, biodiversity, and other ecosystem services, as well as human development. She has also developed innovative education programs in sustainable development. DeFries was elected as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, one of the country’s highest scientific honors, received a MacArthur “genius” award, and is the recipient of many other honors for her scientific research. In addition to over 100 scientific papers, she is committed to communicating the nuances and complexities of sustainable development to popular audiences through her books “The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis and “What Would Nature Do?: A Guide for Our Uncertain Times”.

Sandra Goldmark is a designer, teacher, and entrepreneur whose work focuses on circular economy solutions to overconsumption and climate change. She is an Associate Professor of Professional Practice in Theatre and Director of Sustainability and Climate Action at Barnard College, and the author of Fixation: How to Have Stuff without Breaking the Planet. 

Artist, writer, and naturalist James Prosek published his first book at age nineteen. His work has been shown at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, with solo exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the New Britain Museum of American Art, among others. Prosek won a Peabody Award for his documentary about traveling through England in the footsteps of Izaak Walton, the seventeenth-century author of The Compleat Angler. 

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