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As everyone else on campus prepares for Fourth Week, EC385 has scattered. The COP is over, though at the moment there is no formal rulebook (the entire point of the conference). While negotiators from throughout the world continue to work, everyone else observing the conference has left.
While most of my posts have had a negative tone, I would like to formally state that does not mean I had a bad time. Quite the contrary, while some moments were hard- it was an incredible experience to be able to attend such an international conference. We were told before we left that the COP would be an emotional rollercoaster, though it’s difficult to know what that means. A conference? You think, no way could that be emotional. And yet, being confronted with the realities of climate change for 10 hours a day, reckoning with the vast inequalities, trying to determine what is true in all the noise, and experiencing sensory overload is emotional.
My Freshman Year Experience class at CC was called: “It’s Getting Hot in Here: the Science and Politics of Climate Change”. I have been thinking about climate change since my literal first undergraduate class and that has not changed since. I think the first paper I wrote was called “No One Gives a Shit About the Environment: Why the Economy and the Environment are Uncoupled in the American Mind.” Yes I swore, yes that’s who I am as a person. I am now a double major in Economics and Environmental Policy because I do really believe that solving climate change stretches the boundaries of typical areas of academia. That belief was cemented at the COP.
I know that each other student on this course has such an academic and personal reason for wanting to attend as well, though I only know my own story.
It was hard for all of us to know how to move forward from this experience in a meaningful way. I think that all we can do is pressure the institutions of which we are a part to be better.
The Colorado College Student Government Association passed a resolution last week urging the administration to sign the “We Are Still In Pledge.” This is a group of businesses, higher education institutions, states, and cities that are committed to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, even as the United States has pledged to leave it. This is a good first step but we can do better as an institution- more meat-free meals in the dining halls, pledging to not only be carbon neutral but also fossil fuel free.
So what can you do? Plant trees, go vegan 2 days a week, write to your city councillor, ask your family to buy you carbon offset credits for the holidays. What you cannot do is give up hope, because as soon as we stop believing that we can have any effect, positive change stops. Stay hopeful. Stay vigilant. Stay angry.
As I walk throughout the conference venue, I am identifiably from the United States, probably for a couple of reasons. First, I smile at everyone I see, second my water bottle. 5 days into the COP and six people have commented on my beloved teal nalgene coated in climate-related stickers. It’s a great conversation starter and has earned me a few business cards.
Water bottles, at least at CC, are a way to make a quick non-verbal statement regarding your passions. It’s a powerful visual to represent your ‘isms’: environmentalism, anti-racism, veganism, High Mountain Institute-ism, and the list goes on. What the water bottle fails to do is bely any action behind its claims. Mine reads: “keep it in the ground,” regarding coal. But what am I doing to help keep it in the ground? I don’t know.
Being at the COP requires me, as an individual, and especially as an American, to reckon with how my actions contribute or detract from climate change. My wish for you, reader of this blog deep within the CC website, is ask yourself these same questions. How are you taking the messages on your water bottle and enacting them?
Taking art history really opens your eyes to what is right in front of you. This includes everything from the art everywhere on campus to the art in your own home. I was home for a weekend and was able to look at all of the pieces hanging around my home, and I thought it would be interesting to try and analyze a few.
Although I don’t know very much about most of these works, there are three wood blocks prints done by my grandfather. My grandparents have lived in Corrales, New Mexico, and most of the prints made by Grandpa Paul are either images from his life there or inspired by Japan, where he traveled to learn how to do this style of printing.
In this first print, Barranca de Corrales, you can see the Japanese influence in the flatter perspective and more simplified shapes, even though this is a depiction of the hill on which my grandparents live. The majority of the piece is black, white, or tan, with the only color being the sky and the figures going up the hill. The effect is to make the blue and the yellow of the sky seem even more vibrant, and makes the viewer wonder if the sun is just rising or setting to have such a bright, yellow horizon. The red and blue of the group climbing the hill draw your eye to them, but they are so small and indistinct that the focus of the piece is still on the skyline.
In the piece just to the left of this, Hokusai’s World, the Japanese influence is clear. With the iconic wave image from The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai in the foreground, bamboo and a bonsai tree in the mid-ground, and what looks like Mount Fuji in the background, this entire work seems like a dedication to Japanese culture and art. All of these environmental additions frame two figures fighting in the middle of the print with what seems to be bo staffs, a traditional Japanese weapon. The color palette is again very basic and shows off the details of the bonsai tree and wave. The patterns around the edge frame the central images, and are a unique addition to the print, unusual in both my grandfather’s work and in Japanese-style printing in general. This homage to Japan and the printing style is both simple and beautiful (although I may be a little biased).
In the third and final piece of the three of Grandpa Paul’s prints we have hanging on our wall, Tiffany Hill: Dawn, we are back in New Mexico. It is an image inspired by what my grandfather does every morning he can: walk his dogs. Although this does show an aspect of his day, this is not a self-portrait, but instead a depiction of the friends he walks his dogs with. The colors are muted, with most of the piece filled with tan, representing the sandy desert that most of Corrales is. But there is still foliage, which fills up the sides of the print, and a town that is in the distance and seems to be the goal of the dog walkers. The dog walkers themselves are simplified human figures, one having a backpack and the other a Harley Davidson jacket. The dogs are even more simplified, just focusing on the essentials. This simplicity is probably a combination of medium restrictions, personal preference, and aesthetics and is consistent through all of his works.
My grandfather is a simple, usually quiet man (except for the occasional pun) who has lived a rich life and learned a ridiculous amount about a ridiculous number of subjects. He spends his days reading, watching soccer matches, and making prints. I am so glad that we are able to have his art hanging in our home.
On our daily commutes, the visuals around us are often the same day after day. We know what buildings are coming up, where everything is, and often just go through the motions; however, on one of my daily summer driving routes, there was something new. This massive metal sculpture had taken over what used to be a standard rooftop, providing me with a little bit of a shock.
According to Colorado artist Trace O’Connor, ”Iscariot depicts a mermaid gracefully leaving her perch to take flight.” This unique mermaid made from reclaimed metal weighs in at 4,200 pounds and is part of the Downtown areas partnership and their affiliates’ ongoing mission to create unique cultural experiences for Springs residents and visitors to the area.
Springs residents should definitely keep their heads up in the downtown area, not only to observe the eye-catching street art, but just in case a giant metal mermaid attacks you or your car!
McMichael, Jon. “Rise of the Octo-Maid, New Sculptures Hit Colorado Springs’ Rooftops.” KOAA.com. August 30, 2018. Accessed October 17, 2018. https://koaa.com/news/digital-original/2018/06/08/rise-of-the-octo-maid-new-sculptures-hit-colorado-springs-rooftops/.
Photo from: “Colorado Springs, CO – Octo-Maid: Metal Mermaid.” RoadsideAmerica.com. Accessed October 17, 2018. https://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/61875.
When I first came to campus, I identified Shove Chapel to be one of the more architecturally beautiful buildings on campus. If one were to ask me at the start of school why I found this building so beautiful, I couldn’t have said more than the fact that I thought the color and texture of the stone and wood was visually pleasing and the size and cost of materials made it stand out amongst the rest. After reaching the sixth week of Victoria Ehrlich’s Art History FYE course, I look at Shove Chapel with a new set of eyes.
In this course, we thoroughly covered Romanesque-style and Gothic-style architecture. Romanesque architecture, while not uniform across the board, can be characterized by buildings that are smaller than the heights they will reach in the Gothic era, and almost look like large homes. These buildings have thick walls and are held up by buttresses on the outside. There was often little natural light inside Romanesque buildings due to the lack of windows. Curved arches were common in this architectural style in addition to barrel vaults.
Now, as I walk by Shove Chapel, I see the building has many of the characteristics typically found in a Romanesque church. As you stand in front of the chapel and gaze at the front doors, the arches you see are all round, which differs from the pointed arches found in Gothic architecture. If you stand in the nave of the chapel, the middle section where the seating is, and look towards the apse, the curved area at the front of the church, you will notice a large window known as a rose window. This style of window is characteristic of Romanesque architecture, but later became an even more prominent feature in the Gothic style, and is made of stained glass. Many of the other windows in Shove chapel also feature stained glass, as did Gothic churches. Inside the chapel, you will see more rounded arches and a barrel vaulted ceiling towards the front of the church by the altarpiece, again pointing to a Romanesque influence. Not only has this Art History course made me appreciate the value of different forms of architecture more, but it also has allowed me to form a connection with buildings on our campus, around Colorado Springs, and the greater world around us by being able to appreciate and associate various architectural characteristics with a specific style and era of time.
My Chihuly Experience
Who is Chihuly?
Dale Chihuly is known around the world as an incredible glass artist. He was born in the state of Washington in 1941, where he grew up and graduated high school years later. Chihuly did not think that he wanted to pursue further education after high school, but was talked into going to college (where he would study interior design) by his mother. He ended up getting bored and dropping his studies to travel. At this point in his life, he was able to study art in Florence and the Middle East, which was when he figured out what he wanted to do. When he returned home, he went back to school to get his Bachelor of Arts degree in interior design. Throughout his life, Chihuly had been interested in glass. He would incorporate it into most of the artwork that he did, like weaving, and he even learned to blow glass during his first years of college.
Chihuly’s glass art can be seen in public places all around the globe. Because of his interest in glass art, Chihuly was able to build a career in the field. He has always been interested in architecture, too, which is why most of his works have an architectural feel or design. His work is more about making art for people instead of his own experience. One of his most famous quotes is, “I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in some way that they’ve never experienced.”
Glass art is quite unique because it encourages an interactive viewing experience. Like any other sculpture, glass art is 3-dimensional, but it also has an effect from light. When light hits Chihuly’s works, they shine and glimmer as the light is reflected to the walls and floor around it, making viewing the art work an immersive experience. Currently, this artist has exhibitions in France, Czech Republic, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Japan, and multiple locations throughout the United States of America, including one right here in Colorado Springs. The Fine Arts Center, located right next to the Colorado College campus, has a beautiful exhibit up with a few Chihuly pieces. The museum has created a memorable viewing experience for anyone who enters the exhibition by employing light in the display of Chihuly’s objects.
My own experience working with Chihuly’s art was very interesting. Back in high school, my class studied glass art for a brief period of time. We reviewed many of Chihuly’s pieces and got to know his style and creative shapes. This made us want to attempt blowing glass, but because we did not have the resources to actually blow glass like Chihuly, my art teacher was creative and found a way for us to get a true Chihuly experience. Instead of using glass to create giant sculptures like Chihuly, we used tissue paper. My art teacher bought a large amount of colorful tissue paper for us, which we sculpted into strange shapes using glue. The glue would dry and the tissue paper would stay stiff in the designs we wanted. Using chicken wire, my art teacher set a base (in the shape of a sphere) for our sculptures and we attached our tissue paper designs all around the sphere. This experience was amazing. I enjoyed being able to make my own piece and put it together in a creative way like Chihuly would. It was fun to be inspired by his work and create our own “glass art.” –
Source: “Homepage.” Chihuly, 2018, www.chihuly.com/.
We’re moving from two dimensions to three this week, from painting to sculpture! During the Renaissance, sculptures were a way to influence public perceptions and identity- a form of political propaganda. The sculpture that I fell most in love with is the Juno Fountain, by Bartolomeo Ammannati. The fountain was commissioned by Cosimo I of the Medici family in 1556. If you haven’t heard of the Medici, (or have heard of them a million times but don’t actually know what they were famous for), here’s a refresher. The Medici family basically invented money and banking. Before the Medici, bartering was the standard of trade, but the Medici realized that one way to make money really fast is to just make the money. The family’s riches gave them power and many Medici served in Florentine government.
Cosimo I was Duke of Florence at the time, and commissioned the fountain when he was able to connect Florence with a new water source. Though the fountain was intended to be the centerpiece of the Great Council Hall, it was never installed there; Cosimo I came into possession of a Michelangelo statue, and replaced the Juno Fountain with it. Newly homeless, the Juno Fountain was moved temporarily the royal gardens, before it’s component parts were (tragically) scattered around the park. It wasn’t until recently that the pieces of the fountain were reassembled at the Bargello Museum in Florence. To quote Peaches and Herb, “Reunited and it feels so good!”
I love this fountain because it so appropriately addresses the achievement it commemorates. The entire fountain is centered around the idea of the water cycle as it was understood by Aristotle. Aristotle believed that water was created from a combination of the elements: earth, air, water, and fire. Fittingly, the characters depicted in this fountain have allegorical significance, with each representing a natural element.
On top of the fountain, sits Juno, protector of the state, with a tambourine in her hand. The clap of her tambourine signifies thunder and lighting, indicating that the gods could strike down any misbehaving mortals. Juno sits atop a stone rainbow, the path of connection between heaven and earth. Beneath the rainbow, lie two bodies of water, personified as a man and a woman. On the left, is Arno, the river that still provides water to the city of Florence. On the right, is Parnassus, the spring that famously arose from Mt. Helicon, providing poetic inspiration to all who drank from her waters.
Though each of these characters have their charm, the woman in the center of the fountain, Ceres (Roman goddess of Earth and agriculture), is the clear star of the show. Ceres stands with her hands on her breasts, squeezing the fountain water from them. Ironically, fountains that depict a urinating man are very common, yet fountains where women produce water from their breasts are rare. Ceres’ body shape is concave, with her shoulders rounded forward, as she seems to push the water out from within her. Her right cheek is turned to the viewer, an indication of authority and power. With her ocularis and zygomaticus muscles slightly contracted, she appears to be smiling softly, yet knowingly down at us.
Ceres is completely naked, and her body looks more feminine than most Renaissance statues. Because the Catholic Church was still very influential at the time, females were not allowed to pose nude for artists. As a result, early female nudes looked like female heads atop hulking male bodies. Ceres however, is distinctly female, with rounded features and an hourglass shape. Though females nudes existed before the Juno Fountain, women were depicted as sexual objects of the male gaze. In this piece however, Ceres’ comfort with touching her own body, in a totally non-sexual way, implies agency and self-ownership. Her naturalness suggests lack of self-consciousness and a confidence that is striking even in modern day.
Ceres also represents the feminine power to give and sustain life (by giving water in this sculpture, and by giving birth in real life). The idea of female autonomy, much less feminine power, was unheard of in the Renaissance; yet Ceres seems to sidestep cultural norms.This work may seem like a small step for women, but it’s a giant leap for mankind — or should I say womankind. Kudos to you, Ammannati.
Wow wow wow! What a block it has been! I can’t believe it is over, and I know it will take a lot more than the flight home to process everything that has happened. I am writing from the comfort of my hostel bed, which I will say goodbye to in the morning, as one of the last of our cohort to depart. I will take this opportunity to begin the process of reflection.
I’m not entirely sure how to structure this post, and I would like to keep it relatively concise, so I will use a skill that my 2.5 years at CC have engrained in me: reflection via rose, bud and thorn.
Rose: This one is easy: everything. If you just rolled your eyes, that’s fine, but I mean it. The opportunity that we had to be here, as a bunch of under-grad American students from a small liberal arts college, has no comparison. We had the opportunity to meet Jeff Seabright, Chief Sustainability Officer at Unilever, Katherine Neebe (’97), Chief Sustainability officer at Walmart, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, the President of COP-20, among others. We had coffee and conversation with change makers, movers and shakers from all corners of the world. That is pretty neat, if you ask me. To be in the presence of these incredible people, in the place where the magic happens, so to speak, has been an unparalleled opportunity. Just the chance to attend COP-23 is a major rose all by itself.
Bud: As my classmate Kelly said in her most recent post: once you know and understand the causes and impacts of climate change, you can never un-know them. While I feel that I have always been well informed about environmental issues and I was raised in a household adamant about turning off the lights upon leaving rooms, composting and recycling (thanks, family!) this block and the COP has opened my eyes to a world of complexities and nuance that I didn’t know existed in the realm of climate change. I have heard personal narratives from corporate executives, indigenous leaders, mothers, fathers, students and countless others from all over the world. Returning to Colorado and to CC, I am excited to bring with me the passion, the energy, the dedication that formed the foundation for this conference. My bud is fairly simple: the opportunity to take everything we have experienced here back home as a souvenir and to build on this incredible experience as a foundation of knowledge and action.
Thorn: This one is a little bit harder. Clearing my rose-colored (pun kind-of intended), post-COP glasses, the thorn that stands out is the thick bureaucracy and politically-driven cloud that surrounded the conference. Like Katherine said in her most recent post, the negotiations frequently get hung up on single clauses and even individual words. The dissonance between debating relatively inconsequential verb tenses and the very real effects of climate change that are affecting very real human lives is hard to ignore. As students attending an American college, we know that politics is in everything these days. No issue seems to be above partisanship, and this was ever present at COP-23. I found it frustrating to sit in meetings and hear a story about a mom who lost her home to freak flooding in one minute, and the next minute hear that an organization dedicated to helping this mom couldn’t get funding because some political body couldn’t get a bill passed. The thorn on my rose of the COP is the frustratingly slow-moving, albeit potentially inextricable, bureaucratic process of change.
I have many more roses, buds and thorns, but this is a blog and not my memoir, so I will end there. This has been a truly once in a lifetime experience and something I will carry with me forever. Thank you to Mark Smith, Colorado College, our individual sponsors who got us badges, all the people who took time out of their schedules to meet with us, and to everyone who made COP-23 and this block possible.
Signing off, with endless amounts of gratitude,
Anna Brent (’19)
Here are some of my favorite pictures from the last two weeks as a P.S.:
Here is our very own Emily Abbott (’19) meeting Frank Bainimarama, COP-23 President!
Another MAJOR rose: all the free food!!!!
Al Gore Speaking! Woohoo!
Katherine Kerr (’18), Jack Mosley (’18) and I, with the actual globe in our hands (well, in the air, but it was previously in our hands).
Today was our last day at the COP and a good one to finish on. We began the day with an early meeting with Cambridge University engineering professor Hugh Hunt. Dr. Hunt is the engineer behind a geo-engineering project intended to increase the reflectivity of the planet by injecting sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. This would be a temporary but potentially effective patch to a huge problem. Dr. Hugh suggests that this could put a halt on warming and the catastrophes associated with temperature increase above 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius while we work on getting further infrastructure in place. This topic is obviously incredibly controversial, but Dr. Hugh gave us some small assurance that some of the more dynamic and intelligent scientists are putting the idea through its paces.
Because I haven’t written since the very first day of the conference, I wanted to write a little bit about one of the more powerful experiences I had during the COP. During one of the first sessions at the US Climate Action Pavilion, Senator Ricardo Lara spoke about California’s climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. Senator Lara is incredibly well spoken, an impeccable role model, and the work that he is putting forth in California is exciting.
After the panel I had the opportunity to speak with him for a little while about some research I was putting together for my thesis, (Thank you Mark!) and he gave me some really valuable policy insight into the real-world problems inherent in the renewable labor market in California. I kept my composure and tried not to look as star-struck as I was feeling, so meeting the Senator was a highlight for sure!
Sorry for the late post! We’ve had really spotty internet here. Actually, something I learned last week is that the internet in Germany is extremely expensive and therefore the internet in Cafés, houses, hotels, restaurants, etc is usually pretty slow.
On Friday, we tried to get to Bonn on the RB48 (a nicer train that is generally less crowded than the one we have been taking) and due to protests at the Bonn central station on coal we passed the station and ended up past Bonn in a little village. We ended up meeting a lady from Norway and splitting a cab with her to Bonn.
I spent the rest of the day at the US pavilion, which had opened the day before. It was really interesting to listen to people talk and sit around the general area and see the different people attending. There was a really interesting discussion with the head of sustainability of Walmart, and a few other major businesses, discussing their approach to being sustainable businesses. This was really interesting to hear about because generally sustainable methods are seen as more expensive and therefore economically inefficient. However, through this discussion they explained how while it might be more expensive initially the long-term investment ends up being less expensive and it creates more jobs, generating economic stimulation in cities.
At the end of the day there was a reception in the US pavilion where I met an interesting guy. He believed not in <2 degrees Celsius but rather 0 degrees Celsius. While this sounded really ambitious and unrealistic to me it was eye opening to hear his argument and stance on his opinion. Additionally, he told us about a few projects his company is investing in to reduce carbon emissions. One of these projects is man-made lime stone that is actually more pure than naturally found limestone and is a carbon sink that absorbs limestone. The other project he talked to us about is a mechanism for “stirring the depths of the ocean.” Essentially, the nutrients and sediment found at the bottom of the ocean absorbs CO2 and is a natural and abundant carbon sink. However, in the middle of the ocean where the current is not as strong and there are not crashing waves to disrupt the ocean floor the nutrients and sediment does not get pulled to the surface and therefore cannot absorb the C02.
Friday night was a great opportunity not only to network with individuals but also to have more one-on-one conversations with these business men/women and senators.