Dr Cliff Cockerham is a retired biomedical research scientist/instructor and a Climate Ambassador with Physicians for Social Responsibility. He was introduced to art classes as a young student at Mexico Academy High School and then to art criticism at Cornell University, where he completed his undergraduate work with a double major in genetics and communication arts. Photography was a natural sideline to science beginning at an early age. However, his genuine interest in painting only developed later in workshops and retreats while completing his doctorate in biology at Georgetown University and beyond. At retirement, these interest emerged to prominence.
Much of his current work involves bringing science into art galleries and promoting art that addresses the existential problem of climate change. Previously he published over 100 photographs in print media, illustrated two books, and was executive producer on a documentary. In Paris at COP21, Cliff organized the screening of an American documentary on fracking and moderated a panel on its health implications. Concurrently, Cliff lived in the “Place to Be” arts and performing arts community in Paris.
Building on that background he now paints, organizes gallery exhibitions, and delivers gallery talks on climate change messaging in arts and performing arts; also using climate change art as a means of focusing meditation during retreats he leads on the writings of Pope Francis and the Global Catholic Climate Movement.
After joining “Artists for the Earth,” a support team within the international Earth Day Network, Cliff became a founding member of the “Artists for the Earth Collective” [A4E] within the Climate Emergency Coalition, making A4E work year-round in the USA. With A4E and through MEERC’s Education Partnership with the international Akumal Arts Festival he collaborates on the promotion of climate change messaging in conjunction with the themes of sustainability and community resilience in the developing world, in solidarity with indigenous peoples. For Cliff, protecting the most vulnerable people on the planet from the “globalization of indifference” is a moral imperative that ultimately drives his dedication to climate mobilization, as well as his messaging through and with art.
As Tennessee State Coordinator for CCL, Cliff helps manage and deploy Congressional Lobby Teams from seven communities throughout Tennessee. In the next five months, Cliff will personally lobby Congress with delegations from the Environmental Defense Fund [Feb 2020]; Eucumenical Advocacy Days [April 2020]; Citizens Climate Lobby [June 2020]. In the same time period in North Florida he has organized climate change art exhibitions for 11 artists and will moderate 13 climate change-focused gallery events, speaking at nine of these as a PSR Climate Ambassador.