“What Man Has Wrought” – A Creative Showcase Archive

“As a guarded optimist, my panels present a hopeful outcome for both our species and for all life forms we share our existence with.” Michael Gresalfi‘s seven-panel installation offers an opportunity for self-reflection, making creative use of styrofoam with melted wax, acrylics and a heat gun to reflect humanity’s darker side and visions of a world we risk if we fail to make restoring our Earth our shared priority.

self-reflection: showing "What Mans Has Wrought" - artist: Michael Gresalfi


My vision in creating this work was to create a story that presents the viewer with an opportunity for self-reflection on “what man has wrought”, with respect to the loss of global biodiversity and the associated damage from man-induced changes to our planet’s multitude of climates.

Michael Gresalfi is an artist who seeks to incorporate art with climate change data, and whose work in encaustic medium, glass paint, oils and acrylics includes ‘Our Changing Planet’.

 

 

Have you seen the 1989 film Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner? When I decided to go ahead and created this, my first large climate change-focused art installation — and to do so without an identified site or sponsor — I thought of that film and the often-repeated saying:

“Build It And They Will Come.”

This portable installation — which is ten foot long, six foot high and two feet deep –consists of seven styrofoam panels, all suspended on a frame. I purposefully selected styrofoam as my canvas, as it is one of the most environmentally persistent and obnoxiously resistant to recycling materials that I could both imagine and work with.

My vision in creating this work was to create a story that presents the viewer with an opportunity for self-reflection on “what man has wrought”, with respect to the loss of global biodiversity and the associated damage from man-induced changes to our planet’s multitude of climates.

I worked primarily with melted wax and acrylics, and I utilized a heat gun to distort those interior panels which reflect humanity’s darker side, while also envisioning the real possibility of an uninhabitable world; that is, if we all don’t begin to make restoring our Earth our shared priority.

My visual story proceeds across these seven panels from left to right. The hand-drawn statements on the top of both panels one and seven are meant to depict protest signs. Together the panels portray a timeline of sorts (past, present, and alternative futures) and a realization that mankind has caused these global threats to our world. Together my goal was for viewers to see themselves as well as all of humanity as responsible for our current climate crises. Further, that we must all accept these crises as caused by human transgressions. With this sense of shared responsibility, let us all strive to avoid the continuing loss of biodiversity and the ongoing climate-induced degradations to our shared blue jewel, planet Earth.

In the first two panels, my vision was to portray the Earth and mankind in its balanced pre-industrial and even much earlier state. A touch of the Garden of Eden vision, before our ‘Fall from Grace’.

In the third panel, we humans reflect upon what we have wrought upon our damaged home world and all species of life, and we face the realization that we are headed towards a human-induced global apocalypse (center panel) unless we begin to act now. In the fifth panel, my vision was to present humanity as fully accepting this ultimate planetary collapse as a nearly inevitable conclusion — unless all peoples and nations strive to make healing our planet a universal priority.

As a guarded optimist, my last two panels present a hopeful outcome for both our species and for all life forms we share our existence with. Frankly, I am portraying a world never again as pure and as balanced as it was in the deep pre-homo sapiens past, but one that finds mankind working to achieve harmony with, and not against, our precious and shared planet Earth.

Please notice that the panels are hung so that the viewer is looking into the mirrored face (panel 3) and mirrored eyes (panel 5) of the two human ‘effigies’. An opportunity for self-reflection and responsibility for our current fall from grace and a potentially dark and dismal future.

An opportunity for self-reflection: showing detail from Michael Gresalfi's installation, "What Man Has Wrought" on humanity's darker side and visions of a world we risk if we fail to make restoring our Earth our shared priority.

Also, I included six golden bells in the first panel (far left) — representing the “six days” that the Christian Bible states it took God to create all things — and the lesser golden six bells on the far right panel represent hope that the tree of life will survive and that we can make it through the environmental maelstrom to come (center panel) ‘but’ never to return to the environmental purity and balance that our planet once enjoyed.


You can see more of Michael’s ClimateCultures contributions in our blog and in our current Creative Showcase via his profile in our Directory, and explore more at his website. Also in our Creative Showcase archive, you can find Our Changing Planet: a video presentation of his artworks with his own narration, offering educators and advocates one example of personally communicating the science of climate change through a creative medium.

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