Climate Change Across Disciplines focuses on current research exploration by world renowned scientists joined by artists and emerging scholars. Key researchers present on related topics: climate change’s implications for forest ecosystems (Damon Matthews); Indigenous expressions and connection with land (Alain Cuerrier); duo Sonya Stoeva and Dimo Ivanov with the results of their artistic research on motion, nature, and light; Marjorie Beaucage, two-Spirit Métis Auntie, filmmaker, art-ivist and educator, a land protector and a water walker with her experience of walking through the land; and McGill’s 1st Redpath Museum Climate Change resident Milton Riaño presenting his research.
Climate change and forest ecosystems interact in important ways. Climate change could have a profound effect on forest ecosystems, leading to potential changes in ecosystem composition and function. Forests also affect climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide, offering a potential contribution to climate mitigation options. In this talk I will outline the scientific understanding of how climate changes could affect forest ecosystems, as well as the role that forests can play in decreasing the global consequences of our carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.
People have used arts and crafts in their daily lives. Drum, dancing, basket, carving, etc. are still important. They now also turn themselves to poetry, paintings, happenings, and other modern art avenues. These are expressions of who they were, are and will be. Through artistic pathways, Indigenous People are experiencing health through connecting the past with modern time. Braiding basket starts by reaching out to the land and land is a large part of their healing system. It is also a way to reach out to family and ancestors who are teachers and knowledge holders. Indeed, baskets are trees or herbaceous plants and knowledge. They also are teachers: teaching about sharing, about identity, and the path to who we are, about health for the berries that they hold, medicinal plants, and through harvesting. Indigenous people arts and crafts are rich, complex, and open a window to learn about reciprocity with other beings (plants, animals, minerals).
Through their research, Stoeva and Ivanov examine the potential and limits of technology in the process of emotional archiving. Rooted in the determination to preserve and document different natural systems, they are experimenting with animatronic mechanics that offer the possibility of simulating reality. By the use of animatronic models and 3D simulations, they examine movement, light and sound, how they transform human’s perception regarding nature and how this informs us about its state. These studies help to better understand the emotional charge that the natural environment carries on in order to translate it into artistic creations. Based on illusion, Stoeva and Ivanov create kinetic events that evoke nature's fragility underlined by the transience of their installations. It is from the modulation of light and meteorological phenomena that they seek to imagine universes inspired by nature.
Riaño will be presenting the results of his residency as the first Climate Change Artist-in-Residence at the Redpath Museum at McGill University, in which he focused on the use of new media art as a creative catalyst to engage the community and enhance the visibility of climate research at McGill through collaboration with climate researchers and hosting of public workshops. The residency culminated in 2022 with a creative-research project on duckweed, a small free-floating plant with an exceptional ability to understand its surroundings. The project is currently exhibited as an installation at the Redpath Museum and includes a kinetic sculpture, interactive animations and innovative ways to integrate and explore climate data from multiple sources.
In the Summer 2021, Marjorie Beaucage is doing a 1900 km Water Walk to protect the Saskatchewan River, starting at the headwaters (Saskatchewan Crossing) near the Columbia Icefields in the Rocky Mountains to Lake Winnipeg. Her presentation addresses that it is written in the treaties.... yet many of our waters are in danger and many communities do not have drinking water. Walks to protect the water are what women have been doing for many years. In summer 2021, I am walking for the Saskatchewan River and documenting my journey. Water is Life and I want to share her voice. She has been a Grandmother for Walking With Our Sisters; the Elder for OUT Saskatoon; and the Elder-In-Residence for the University of Saskatchewan Student Union. She has also been called on for national research initiatives that focus on Indigenous women living with HIV, Indigenous Harm Reduction, Indigenous youth who experience sexual and gender-based violence, and post-traumatic stress. In all of these, Marjorie returns to story as medicine, to art as medicine. Marjorie says of her work, “creation is a powerful thing; whether you’re making a baby or a loaf of bread or a movie, it comes from the same place. To get people to tap into that energy that creates possibilities, so they don’t get stuck in this craziness that we’re in, is transformative.”
About the speakers
Dr. Damon Matthews is Tier 1 Concordia University Research Chair in Climate Science and Sustainability. His research is aimed at better understanding the many possible interactions between human activities, natural ecosystems and future climate change. Matthews’ research contributes to the development of sound national and international climate change policy. As co-creator of the Climate Clock, Matthews will continue to develop this project in collaboration with the PI and other team members.
Dr. Alain Cuerrier earned his PhD in plant systematics (University of Montreal with one year at Harvard University) before switching to ethnobotany in 2001. He participated in the creation of the First-Nations Garden in Montreal as well as in Laquenexy (France). Since then, he has started ethnobotanical and ethno-ecological projects with the Inuit, Innu, Naskapi, Cree, Squamish people of Canada as well as Palikur (French Guiana) and Cabécar (Costa Rica). As a member of the Canadian Institute Health Research Team in Aboriginal Antidiabetic Medicines, he has been active in traditional medicine since 2003. Alain Cuerrier is a member of the Plant Biology Research Institute and adjunct professor at University of Montreal. He has been vice-president of the Natural Health Product Research Society of Canada from 2010-2013 and was president of the International Society of Ethnobiology (2014-2016). Dr. Alain Cuerrier has published more than 12 books on plant uses by First Nations and Inuit of Canada as well as on the philosophy of biology.
Sonya Stoeva & Dimo Ivanov are graduates of Concordia's MFA program. Their collaborative work took shape in 2010 as the duo Ivanov Stoeva following projects in Canada and Europe. In 2022, they completed a Studio Arts MFA in Intermedia (Video, Performance and Electronic Arts) at Concordia University. Dimo Ivanov received a fellowship in Leadership in Environmental and Digital Innovation for Sustainability (LEADS). Their research has received the support of several scholarships and bursaries: Canada Council, CALQ, Ville de Montréal, FRQSC- Master’s research scholarship (2019-2020) and Hexagram Network research and creation grant. They have exhibited in galleries and art centres in Chicoutimi, Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Paris and Sofia as well as in art festivals, such as the Elektra International Digital Art Festival and the Art Souterrain Contemporary Art Festival.
Milton Riaño is a Colombian new media artist with a background in engineering and geography. His works are an exploration of the role of new media technologies in our perception of time and space. Riaño creates live performances and interactive installations that integrate light, sound, sensors, programming, animation, video and real-time data processing. He has performed and exhibited his work in Colombia and Canada. Riaño holds a bachelor degree in Civil Engineering, a Specialization in Spatial Analysis from the National University of Colombia, and a Specialization in Fine Arts + Creative Technologies from the University of Montreal. Riaño was the first recipient of the Climate Change Artist-in Residence program by the Redpath Museum + Adaptable Earth Observation System + Sustainability Projects Fund at McGill University.
Marjorie Beaucage is a Two-Spirit Métis Auntie, filmmaker, art-ivist and educator, a land protector and a water walker. Born in Vassar, Manitoba, to a large Métis family, Marjorie’s life’s work has been about creating social change, working to give people the tools for creating possibilities and right relations. She is giving back to future art-ivists as they stand up for themselves and community through creating art, music, writing, ceremony. Her poetic memoir, leave some for the birds Movements for Justice will be released in May 2023. Six short harm reduction videos “ Reducing the harms of colonization” have been recently completed to create change and healing for the people with story medicine. Here is a link to her new book Welcome new Kegedonce Press author Marjorie Beaucage - Kegedonce Press.
She has been a Grandmother for Walking With Our Sisters; the Elder for OUT Saskatoon; and the Elder-In-Residence for the University of Saskatchewan Student Union. She has also been called on for national research initiatives that focus on Indigenous women living with HIV, Indigenous Harm Reduction, Indigenous youth who experience sexual and gender-based violence, and post-traumatic stress. In all of these, Marjorie returns to story as medicine, to art as medicine. Marjorie says of her work, “creation is a powerful thing; whether you’re making a baby or a loaf of bread or a movie, it comes from the same place. To get people to tap into that energy that creates possibilities, so they don’t get stuck in this craziness that we’re in, is transformative.”
About the larger project
Thinking Allowed is organizing a series of online + in-person conversation panel talks in Spring and Summer 2023 at Concordia University’s 4th Space, in collaboration with the Canadian Filmmaker Distribution Centre (CFMDC), the Sustainability conference, and the Leadership in Environmental and Digital Innovation for Sustainability (LEADS) program at Concordia University. These panel conversations will have follow up, for a publication, and to continue the discussion, October 19 to the 21, within a variety of activities including the following: workshops at Concordia University’s 4th Space, an IMAX screening at the Montreal Science Center, and artists’ walks and a screening at the Montreal Botanical Ga
This session is part of the Elastic Spaces SSHRC Connection funded project, Thinking Allowed, which brings together a network of artists, curators, scientists, students and community members coming with expertise from different branches of knowledge – artistic, scientific and Indigenous – to address urgent issues around social justice and the environment. Using both new and traditional practices, this group of interdisciplinary and intergenerational researchers work together towards delineating the intersections among the entangled problems of climate change, forest conservation, human displacement, settler-colonialism and racism.