Fault Lines: Art and the Environment

Living and working all over the world—in North Carolina and California, England and Denmark, and beyond—the contemporary artists featured in the NCMA’s recently opened exhibition Fault Lines: Art and the Environment  address urgent environmental issues in their work.


Fault Lines includes installations and artworks by John Akomfrah, Willie Cole, Olafur Eliasson, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Susie Ganch, Allison Janae Hamilton, Hugh Hayden, Hugo McCloud, Richard Mosse, Jean Shin, Jennifer Steinkamp, Kirsten Stolle, Christine Wertheim, and Margaret Wertheim. In their focus on our relationship to nature, these artists examine a broad range of current concerns, including sustainability and restoration, development and habitat loss, changing climates, and environmental justice. Exploring the consequences of inaction as well as possibilities for environmental stewardship and restoration, they present alternative ways to move forward that are sustainable and renewable.

One of the great challenges today is that we often feel untouched by the problems of others and by global issues like climate change, even when we could easily do something to help. This is where art can make a difference. Art does not show people what to do—yet, engaging with a good work of art can connect you to your senses, body, and mind. It can make the world felt. And this felt feeling may spur thinking, engagement, and even action.

—Olafur Eliasson, Artist and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Renewable Energy and Climate Action

Jean Shin, Invasives, 2020, Mountain Dew soda bottles, rivets, and cables, dimensions variable, Photograph: Etienne Frossard, courtesy of Jean Shin

At a time when it is easy to feel inundated by a 24-hour news stream of critical environmental challenges, these artists offer the possibility for new perspectives and shifts in our understanding of how the natural world is changing. They create works of art that are simultaneously beautiful and unsettling, visually alluring and disturbing, curiosity provoking, and hopeful.

They offer the possibility that art can help create change.


Click here for more information on Fault Lines and related events.


Picture of Linda Johnson Dougherty
Linda Johnson Dougherty is chief curator and curator of contemporary art at the NCMA.

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