Signs, Wonders Blunders opens Oct. 27

Dear Climate, Signs, Wonders, Blunders, preparatory image for public installation, 2019

Dear Climate, Signs, Wonders, Blunders, preparatory image for public installation, 2019

The Climate Stories Collaborative at Appalachian State is pleased to announce Signs, Wonders, Blunders, a campus wide public art project that takes the form of a trail sign system, exploring conditions of climate change. It will open on October 27 and be up on campus through May 2020. 

The site specific project was designed by the art collective Dear Climate, and extends the artists’ focus on the entanglements of our species with not only animals, but also plants, minerals, organic matter and the bio-geo-physical systems (including climate) that govern the Earth. Based in strategies of language based conceptual art, agitprop, and grassroots cultural activism, Signs, Wonders, Blunders makes use of language gleaned from climate texts from many different fields to draw attention to cross-disciplinary exchanges that are central to cultivating a more affectionate relationship to the more-than-human world, in advance of and alongside climate change. 

Climate Stories is also working with the artists to create a programming cycle that will deepen learning across campus around the project’s core concepts. Along with workshops and public talks by the artists, they are creating an assignment challenge for classes that invites students and faculty to adopt a trail sign and to produce creative research that responds to the language found on their sign. This research will be featured during Climate Stories annual showcase in April 2020. 

“We are thrilled to be working with Dear Climate over the next year,’ said Jennie Carlisle, a member of the Climate Stories collaborative and the facilitator for the project. “As individuals and as a collective, these artists and their projects offer us a fresh perspective on one of the most urgent social and political issues of our time, and their interdisciplinary way of working can be an excellent model for own collaborations on campus and beyond.” 

Signs, Wonders, and Blunders will kick off October 27-October 30, when Dear Climate members Una Chaudhuri and Marina Zurkow are on campus as visiting artists. All programs are free and open to the public.

Project Launch Events include

Dear Climate: Opening Conversations

Sunday, October 27, 2:00-4:30 pm  

Meet at the green courtyard between Rankin and Edwin Duncan Hall. Rain or Shine.

For extreme weather: the event will be moved to PSU Calloway Peak (room 137A)

A  guided tour and opening celebration for the public art project, featuring talks, performances, and creative responses to the project by members of Dear Climate and faculty and students at the university. 

Artist Talk with members of Dear Climate

Monday, October 28, 6:00pm, Belk Library Rm 114 

Marina Zurkow and Una Chaudhuri will discuss their processes of art making, conceptual frameworks, and history of production. This talk will offer a strong foundation for appreciating and engaging the public art project they have created for our campus. 

Climate Lens Workshop with Una Chaudhuri

Wednesday, October 30, 11:00 am–12:00 pm, Student Union Rm  417, Beacon Heights

A brown bag lunch workshop based in the work of Climate Lens, an international network of theater makers and creatives who pursue an imaginatively expansive approach to the phenomena of climate chaos, seeking new perspectives that include but also move beyond questions of politics and policy–and beyond expressions of fear, anger, and despair. Come learn about their approach and methods for uncovering and displacing the habits of mind and feeling underlying the current climate crisis and its history.  

Project Support

This project is co-organized with the Smith Gallery, the Art Department’s Teaching Gallery located in the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts, through the generous support of The Office of Cultural Affairs, University Facilities Management and Physical Plant and the Chancellor’s Office. Wood for the trail marker signs was harvested by students in the Sustainable Forestry program at Appalachian, and donated by that program. Artist Phil Fuentes is the fabricator for the project. 

Funding for public art installation and comes from a 2019 Chancellor’s Innovation Scholars Award and the Smith Gallery. 

About Dear Climate 

DEAR CLIMATE is an ongoing creative-research project that was founded in 2012 by Una Chaudhuri, Fritz Ertl, Oliver Kellhammer and Marina Zurkow. The collective hacks the aesthetics of instructional signage and the techniques of meditation to lead viewers and listeners towards a better informed, more realistic, and more affectionate relationship to the more-than-human world, including geo-physical forces, and others species. Their work takes many forms: installations and public art interventions, as well as guided meditations, workshops and poster campaigns. 

Marina Zurkow builds animations and participatory environments that focus on humans’ relationships with animals, plants and the weather. Recent exhibitions include bitforms gallery; the Montclair Art Museum; Smithsonian American Art Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; National Museum for Women in the Arts; Borusan Collection, Istanbul; and the Sundance Film Festival. Zurkow is a 2011 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow, and has been granted awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Creative Capital. She is on faculty at NYU’s Interactive Technology Program (ITP), and is represented by bitforms gallery.

Una Chaudhuri is Professor of English, Drama, and Environmental Studies at New York University. Her publications include No Man’s Stage: A Semiotic Study of Jean Genet’s Drama, Staging Place: The Geography of Modern Drama, Rachel’s Brain and Other Storms: The Performance Scripts of Rachel Rosenthal, and Land/Scape/Theater (co-edited Elinor Fuchs). Chaudhuri is a pioneer in the field of “eco-theatre”— plays and performances that engage with the subjects of ecology and environment. She was also among the first scholars of drama and theatre to engage with another rapidly expanding new inter-disciplinary field, Animal Studies, and guested-edited a special issue of TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies, on “Animals and Performance.” In 2014, she published books in both these fields: an Animal Studies book entitled Animal Acts: Performing Species Today (co-edited with Holly Hughes) and an ecocriticism book entitled The Ecocide Project: Research Theatre and Climate Change (co-authored with Shonni Enelow) In addition to her participation in Dear Climate, she is a founding member of CLIMATE LENS. She has chaired the panel of judges for the Callaway Prize for the Best Book on Drama or Theatre, been a judge of the Obie and the Alpert Awards, as well as a voting member of the American Theatre Wing, which awards Broadway’s Tony Awards.=

Oliver Kellhammer is a Canadian land artist, permaculture teacher, activist and writer. His botanical interventions and public art projects demonstrate nature's surprising ability to recover from damage. Lately, his work has focused on cleaning up contaminated soils, reintroducing prehistoric trees onto landscapes damaged by industrial forestry and cataloging the biodiversity of brownfield ecologies. Recent writings include ‘Neo Eocene’ published in Making the Geologic Now, edited by Jamie Kruse and Elisabeth Ellsworth (Punctum 2012) and ‘Violent Reactions’ in Marina Zurkow’s Petroleum Manga (Punctum 2014). He divides his time between rural British Columbia and Alphabet City.

About the Climate Stories Collaborative

The Climate Stories Collaborative at Appalachian State University is our response to the call for a paradigm shift in climate change communication. Our mission is to grow the capacity of our faculty and students to be more creative and compelling climate storytellers. In less than two years since its inception, the Climate Stories Collaborative has grown from just an idea and a small group to a university-wide learning community. 

Thus far, we have engaged more than 70 faculty from 23 departments across campus in Collaborative activities. We have reached a large, diverse student audience as well, including: more than 500 students attending the guest lectures that Collaborative Co-facilitators have given in classes across the university; more than 110 students contributing to works to our first Climate Stories Showcase in December 2017; more than 1000 participants in our April 2018 Climate Justice Month event series; and more than 400 participants in our November 2018 events with visiting climate stories author, Earl Swift. For our second Climate Stories Showcase in April 2019, we engaged an audience of 1100, through an exhibition and performance series, workshops for children and adults, and a keynote talk by artist Mel Chin.