Claire Sianna Seaman

An Attempt at Images for a World in Crisis

72EEC170-BBAC-4FC3-9576-1AD4348628AF.JPG (Cloud over Leavenworth, WA). Oil on wood panel, 16 x 21 in. 2020

The arts have more do to for climate than shocking people into action with literal representations of disaster. In The Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord wrote that grandiose displays of dissent are not necessarily at odds with a “smug acceptance of what exists… for the simple reason that dissatisfaction itself becomes a commodity.”

Last September, I set out to try to respond to writer Amitav Ghosh’s call for artists to make work that acknowledged the climate crisis. His 2016 book, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable is a critical analysis of the cultural functions which have given rise to the environmental destruction we are facing now. 

“When future generations look back upon the Great Derangement they will certainly blame the leaders and politicians…for their failure to address…climate…but they may well hold artists and writers to be equally culpable – for the imagining of possibilities is not after all, the job of politicians and bureaucrats.”

Gateway to Cyborg. Acrylic on wood panel, 8.5 x 10 in. 2020.

I started imaging a different, better version of the world by illustrating the relationship between humans and our environment in a way that acknowledged coexistence. The coexistence of plants and animals (including humans), of ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ the pretty and the ugly. We are told what to notice and taught to block out other things. Street signs and clouds, buildings, bright orange tape on the side of the road, wet pavement and synthetic roofing. It all exists, and is just as much landscape as the forested hills in the distance, in fact, they are all one-in-the-same, not separate, but continuous, tainting one another.

This series of paintings strives to ‘re-see’ that which we have learned to block out. 

They are an attempt to acknowledge that which is not acknowledged within the framework of capitalism, to depict the negative space around the common narrative, in an effort to make space for thought incongruent with the systems that have precipitated climate change.

Self Portrait (At Cole’s Corner) and 72EEC170-BBAC-4FC3-9576-1AD4348628AF.JPG (Cloud over Leavenworth, WA) are the most evident examples of this. Gateway to Cyborg is a direct response to Donna Haraway’s essay, A Cyborg Manifesto. The essay challenges rigid boundaries, especially those dividing the genders, and separating the “human” from other lifeforms and technology. Gateway to Cyborg is an acknowledgement of my own (what will be) life-long dependence; fusing with technology.

Self Portrait (At Cole’s Corner). Oil on wood panel, 16 x 24 in. 2020