Diane Burko, Arctic Melting, July 2016, 2, 2016, Oil and mixed media on canvas, 60 x 84 inches, Courtesy of the Artist

Tip #6 – A work of art can inspire a calculation, scientific investigation or technological discovery

“Diane’s work connects us to the enormity of what is happening in the natural world and the amazing speed with which these changes are taking place. These paintings also connect us to something else. Even as Diane documents how things are changing, she also reminds us of the stunning beauty of nature and, in turn, the urgency of doing everything in our power to protect it. Words alone can’t come close to doing that.”

-Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Diane Burko has long been fascinated with the landscape and it has served as her primary subject for nearly 50 years. Her self-described “eureka moment” came in 2006 during a gallery talk at the Michener Art Museum about her exhibit, Diane Burko: Flow. Included in the installation was one of her paintings of the French Alps that was created in 1976. She realized during that gallery talk that it had been 30 years since she had created that work and wondered what the landscape looked like now. Was there still snow? How much? At that moment, Burko decided that she wanted to focus her work on climate change.

This interest manifested into Burko’s 2010 project, Politics of Snow, a series of paintings based in historical photographs of geological sites over time that dramatically illustrate changes to each area due to global warming. Though she originally painted solely en plein air, Burko also uses photographs as inspiration for her paintings and creates photographs for exhibition as well. Her work continues to evolve and her current explorations are focused on the loss of the world’s coral reefs.

Burko’s work will be featured in the upcoming exhibit, Rising Tides: Contemporary Art and the Ecology of Water.

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