Artist Michael Marshall’s eclectic take on the existential threat of climate change, is gracing a contemporary design art exhibit on Oʻahu. Marshall, an art professor at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, created a 12-panel painting that shows a chronological sequence of the most important events in the history of climate science.
“The unfortunate reality of our advancing technologies is that a return to a pristine natural environment is highly unlikely,” Marshall said in a statement on the piece. “Degradation of the planet has been the price of unsustainable progress. The collective exploitation and damage to habitat, which also impacts our social fabric, is now code red.”
A commentary on climate change
Marshall’s piece on display through April 9 at the design concept store, Fishcake in Kakaʻako, is called “No Return to Bennecourt (in the time of climate change).” The painting stems from his reflection of Claude Monet’s “Impression Sunrise” (1872), a postscript for the Industrial Age, and “On the Bank of the Seine River at Bennecourt” (1868).
The piece also draws on singer Marvin Gaye’s music from his 1971 “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” described as an anthem of sorrow about the state of the environment with the lyrics “…things ain’t what they used to be, no no…”
Marshall’s fiberglass screen collage combines upcycled papers, plastics, acrylic paint and vinyl letters to create an extended concrete poem. Plastic circles spread out through the piece highlight the climate science chronological sequence. The work’s format also echoes Monet’s late waterlily triptychs (art work divided into three sections) and embeds an irreverent haiku in 12 parts that responds to data reported by the American Institute of Physics, which is committed to fighting the challenges of climate change.
Marshall joins other local artists with works on display at Fishcake’s showroom. The current exhibit’s theme is, Visual Poetry, featuring pieces that embody a movement that emerged with the advent of abstract art and avant-garde movements in the early 20th century. The exhibit is available for viewing in-person during store hours. A digital gallery of the works can be seen on Fishcake’s Instagram.
For more information go to UH Hilo Stories.
—by Susan Enright