Chrysler Museum of Art Spotlights the Impact of Sea-Level Rise and Climate Change in New Exhibitions
NORFOLK, VA. (Jan. 10, 2022) – The Chrysler Museum of Art unites the work of artists and scientists to explore the effects of sea-level rise, tidal flooding and shoreline erosion in FloodZone: Photographs by Anastasia Samoylova and Waters Rising: A View from Our Backyard, both on view through May 29, 2022. From various sites in Hampton Roads and South Florida, these artists and researchers document, visualize and reflect upon the dire realities of our current climate crisis and its impact on communities along the U.S. East Coast, making palpable seemingly distant issues in our immediate environment and underscoring the urgent need for adaptation.
In FloodZone, the Chrysler Museum transports visitors to the vibrant yet vulnerable coastal region of Miami, Florida through Anastasia Samoylova’s striking and stirring photographic account of everyday life in a threatened coastal ecosystem. Her works catalog the physical and psychological effects of sea-level rise and climate change along South Florida’s receding shoreline, blurring the lines between paradise and catastrophe in a probing analysis of a climate in crisis.
Born in the Soviet Union, Samoylova moved to Miami Beach in 2016. After riding out Hurricane Irma in a mandatory evacuation zone—frozen traffic and depleted gas barring her escape—she wandered the deserted city to document the storm’s damages. Describing the harrowing experience, she says, “Miami Beach, usually packed with tourists, was a zombie city. It felt apocalyptic. That’s when I realized I had a project.”
Samoylova uses her lens to explore the dissonant aspects of her sinking environment, where glistening high-rise condominiums tower over flooded streets, and real estate development continues unabated despite rising sea levels, persistent flooding and crumbling infrastructure. The resulting images consciously develop a visual inventory of daily experience at the water’s edge, exposing the signs of unease, trepidation and decay that pepper the flooding landscape. Samoylova’s poignant and vastly emotive photographs reverberate beyond Florida’s shoreline, raising broad questions about our response to the inexorable and accelerating battle against rising seas.
“With an eye for subtlety and a conscientious attention to the everyday, Samoylova abandons the shock of climate disaster photography for a searching investigation into the cognitive dissonance of climate change—how people continue to live, often anxiously, amid rising waters,” says Seth Feman, Ph.D., the Chrysler Museum’s deputy director for art & interpretation and curator of photography.
Waters Rising is a collaborative project organized by both the Chrysler Museum of Art and Old Dominion University’s (ODU) Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience (ICAR). Yielding cutting-edge research on climate change, sea-level rise, green infrastructure and community resilience, ICAR leverages the disciplinary depth of ODU faculty to develop practical solutions to the unprecedented challenges facing coastal communities.
“Over the last decade, ODU experts have focused on issues of sea-level rise and flooding in the laboratory, the classroom and the community to address the challenges facing our region and other coastal regions across the country and the world,” says John Broderick, Ph.D., president emeritus of Old Dominion University. “The University is invested heavily in communicating to the public the myriad emerging challenges surrounding resilience planning. In doing so, we’re proud to continue the educational legacy started by Dr. Larry Atkinson more than a decade ago.”
The research initiatives and creative projects undertaken by ICAR researchers are on view in the Chrysler Museum’s Focus Gallery, submerging viewers in the experts’ unparalleled efforts to reduce vulnerability and plan for the future. The exhibition presents scientific models, video simulations, photographs and artwork that provide insight into the causes and consequences of sea-level rise in coastal communities across Hampton Roads, bringing both immediacy and long-term perspective to the pressing issue.
“Like many institutions in Hampton Roads, the Chrysler Museum directly experiences the effects of sea-level rise on a regular basis,” says Chrysler Museum Director Erik H. Neil, Ph.D. “Resiliency is the top concern as we plan for our future.”
Curator Series: Art and the Environment
Feb. 27, March 27 and July 17
3 p.m.│ Kaufman Theater│ Free for Museum members, $10 for non-members, Registration required*
As the planet faces rapid changes as a result of human activity, many artists issue calls to action. While this is especially relevant today, artists have been grappling with these issues for centuries. Join the Chrysler curatorial team for lectures that examine various approaches artists take to explore themes of the environment.
- Turning Tides: Wetlands in American Art Across the 19th Century with Corey Piper, Ph.D., Brock curator of American art
Feb. 27 │ 3 p.m.
Uncover how artists such as Thomas Eakins, Martin Johnson Heade, John James Audubon and others present wetlands in their work. Early naturalists recognized marshes as preserves for rich biodiversity, while others saw them as wastelands—harbors for disease and degeneracy. The artists reveal how wetlands came to be valued and exploited during the 19th century, patterns of use and abuse that still endure in today’s era of sea-level rise and climate emergency.
- Capturing the Land: The Environment in Photographs from the Chrysler Collection with Seth Feman, Ph.D., deputy director for art & interpretation and curator of photography
March 27 │ 3 p.m.
Seth Feman will present selections from the permanent collection that show the often-surprising relationship between photographs and the environment. See works by contemporary photographers who make ecocritical statements with their works as well as 19th– and 20th-century photographers who show awareness and, sometimes deliberate disavowal, of the human toll on the land.
- Look Around You: How the Environment Has Inspired Contemporary Glass Artists with Carolyn Swan Needell, Ph.D., the Carolyn and Richard Barry curator of glass
July 17 │ 3 p.m.
Learn about objects in the Chrysler collection that were made using various glassworking techniques—blowing, flameworking, kiln forming and hot sculpting—and discover how these artworks demonstrate the unique and intimate connections people form with their environments.
Living with Rising Waters: Symposium on Sea-Level Rise Science, Impacts and Solutions
Feb. 12 from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. and Feb. 13 from 2 p.m.–5 p.m.
Free, Registration required*
The Chrysler Museum of Art presents a two-day symposium examining topics illuminated in FloodZone: Photographs by Anastasia Samoylova and Waters Rising: A View from our Backyard. Together, the exhibitions offer searching analyses of two regions situated on the frontlines of climate change: Hampton Roads, Virginia and Miami, Florida. The first day of the symposium will feature three panels: Science & Solutions, Artistic Interpretation and Flooding Resilience & Social Equity. Hear from artists, curators, professors from Old Dominion University and others. On the second day, artist Anastasia Samoylova will discuss her photographic process during an artist talk at 2 p.m. and exhibition curators will be available in the galleries to engage with participants. The symposium will end with a screening of the short documentary Tidewater. For the complete schedule and to register, visit chrysler.org.
Tickle My Ears
10:30 a.m.│ Free
Every year, Little Turtle goes on a trip through her beautiful ocean to visit her childhood home. Will she be able to complete her journey despite all the plastics that have suddenly blocked the way? Find out in Little Turtle and the Changing Sea. After the story, see Maya Lin’s Caspian Sea, learn how to help the environment for Earth Day and create a sea turtle craft. Recommended for ages 2–5.
Chrysler Book Club: Parable of the Sower
3 p.m.│ Free, Registration required
In a post-apocalyptic world of climate disaster and economic ruin, Lauren Olamina sets out on a quest to create a better future for her family and loved ones. Join the Chrysler Book Club via Zoom as we read this critically acclaimed and eerily relevant sci-fi classic, Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. The Zoom link will be sent on the day of the event.
*Prior to theater entry, please present proof of vaccination or results of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the event. Digital copies are acceptable.
About the Chrysler Museum of Art
The Chrysler Museum of Art is one of America’s most distinguished mid-sized art museums, with a nationally recognized collection of more than 30,000 objects, including one of the great glass collections in America. The core of the Chrysler’s collection comes from Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., an avid art collector who donated thousands of objects from his private collection to the Museum. The Museum has growing collections in many areas and mounts an ambitious schedule of visiting exhibitions and educational programs each season. The Chrysler has also been recognized nationally for its unique commitment to hospitality with its innovative gallery host program.
The Perry Glass Studio is a state-of-the-art facility on the Museum’s campus. The studio offers programming for aspiring and master artists alike in a variety of processes, including glassblowing, fusing, flameworking, coldworking and neon.
In addition, the Chrysler Museum of Art administers the Moses Myers House, a historic house in downtown Norfolk, as well as the Jean Outland Chrysler Library. For more information on the Chrysler Museum of Art, visit chrysler.org.
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