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Artists and Community Organizations Work Together to Communicate Climate Risks in New Jersey

originally published: 02/21/2024

Artists and Community Organizations Work Together to Communicate Climate Risks in New Jersey

Four New Jersey community-based organizations (CBOs) recently received funding to work with regional artists to develop community-engaged art projects that communicate climate risks to the public. These projects were made possible through funding awarded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Coastal Management Program (CMP).

Since 2019, the CMP has partnered with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (Arts Council) to develop and implement a Community-Based Art Grant Program, which - as part of a larger risk communications campaign - addresses the need to involve and inform the public about coastal hazard impacts and what actions they can take to reduce their risk.

“The Arts Council has been a partner with the CMP since the inception of the program,” said Allison Tratner, Executive Director of the State Arts Council. “We applaud both NOAA and the DEP for taking the opportunity to capitalize on the unique ability of artists and art to connect communities around issues of climate resilience and risk.”

The CBOs and artists work together to address the theme of climate resilience and coastal flooding through original, site-specific artwork and community engagement events. The purpose is to engage communities in new ways, increasing awareness and understanding of flooding risks in the coastal zone, and introduce the other risk communication tools being produced by the CMP through this project.

"Since the launch of the Community-Based Art Grant Program in 2019, it has been incredibly exciting to see a variety of local artists, community organizations, climate scientists, and municipalities come together to learn about their local coasts and the risks they are facing,” said Nick Angarone, NJ Chief Resilience Officer. "This program enables these groups to bring that shared knowledge to the public through innovative, immersive art projects. I am looking forward to seeing what unique installations this next cohort of artists and organizations create for their communities."

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“I’m honored to work closely with the State Arts Council in their mission to serve and support artists, organizations, and communities throughout the state,” said Lieutenant Governor Tahesha Way, who oversees the Council in her capacity as Secretary of State. “I look forward to seeing these installations created over the coming months and watching as communities come together to spark important conversations around environmental protection and the preservation of our coastal communities.”

Planned projects will be opened for public exhibition and/or participation beginning this Spring, and include:

Artworks Trenton and artist Harun Zankel: The artist will create a series of hand-lettered collaged signs with actionable messaging that will be mounted or temporarily installed in public spaces in Trenton. Messages may include direct quotes from local residents, calls for action, and QR codes for the reader to find more information on climate resilience and flood preparation.

Monmouth Arts and artist Allison Hunter: Allison Hunter will create “Monmouth Beach Rising”, a multimedia event inspired by the rising sea level threatening the coastal community of Monmouth Beach. The video content will feature actual footage of bay area water and sound that the artist will capture over the course of the next six-months. The event will feature a community discussion including the artist and community leaders in flood water issues in the Monmouth Beach area.

Perkins Center for the Arts and artist Jin Jung: Through a Crankie Box and light projections, artist Jin Jung will detail the story of flooding and coastal erosion occurring along the Delaware and Rancocas Rivers in Burlington County. In this performance, Jung will tell the story of community resilience in the face of climate change, highlight the dangers of the ever-increasing threat of flooding within the area, and promote the ways residents can work towards solutions. Jin will also collaborate with students at the Perkins Center Summer Camp to introduce them to Crankie boxes and how to create the materials needed for the performance.

WheatonArts and artist Kristen Neville Taylor: The artist will create an art exhibition titled Moon, Weather, Emotions that explores sea level rise in Southern New Jersey. The project takes “sunny day flooding, also known as nuisance or tidal flooding, as a point of departure and introduces new associations with once familiar weather patterns. Following this, video interviews, archival materials, and custom glass sculptures made at Wheaton will come together in the form of a living diary for viewers to learn about the ecological impacts, to witness the emotional significance and to understand conservation and remediation efforts for local ecosystems. The exhibit will be installed for approximately 6 months and accessible to up to 40,000 visitors of all ages.

The New Jersey State Council on Arts, created in 1966, is a division of the NJ Department of State and a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. The Council was established to encourage and foster public interest in the arts; enlarge public and private resources devoted to the arts; promote freedom of expression in the arts; and facilitate the inclusion of art in every public building in New Jersey. The Council believes the arts are central to every element we value most in a modern society, including: human understanding; cultural and civic pride; strong communities; excellent schools; lifelong learning; creative expression; and economic opportunity.

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New Jersey’s Coastal Management Program works with and provides resources to communities across New Jersey’s coastal zone. Through collaborative partnerships with municipalities, federal agencies, and NGOs, the program works to address New Jersey’s most pressing coastal issues, including resilient coastal community planning, climate change, ocean planning, public access, wetlands, and coastal restoration.



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