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Washington, D.C. –– In case you missed it, on Friday the U.S. Capitol became the backdrop for New York artist Justin Brice’s public art exhibition entitled: WHY’S AN OCTOPUS ON MY LAWN? Commissioned by the League of Conservation Voters to inspire people to engage on this now or never moment for climate activism, Brice’s installation of five solar-powered highway message boards flashed text calling attention to communities impacted by extreme weather, environmental injustice, species extinction, and cautionary aphorisms about the devastating impacts of the climate crisis.
Installation view of WHY’S AN OCTOPUS ON MY LAWN?, Justin Brice, 2022, Washington, DC National Mall. Photo by Alexis Fedoroff
“Climate change is the greatest existential issue in human history,” said Justin Brice. “The idea for the highway signs was to use a medium that suggested urgency, and a language that is accessible to everyone. My hope is for this artwork to generate conversations that inspire social and political change.”
The work is a call to action for Congress and citizens of the planet to mobilize in the fight for just and transformational climate action. The installation comes just ahead of a vote by Congress on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which would be the strongest federal climate legislation in U.S. history if passed. Congress can not wait another day to deliver climate investments to address and prevent extreme weather events, like the record flooding in Kentucky and the destructive wildfires in Northern California.
On Capitol Hill, only a mile away from Justin’s piece, LCV and partners also hosted a press conference Thursday that brought together over a dozen Democratic senators to speak on the urgency of passing this Inflation Reduction Act. “Justin’s piece visualizes the devastating climate-fueled extreme weather events, biodiversity crisis, and worsening climate catastrophes threatening communities across the country making this transformational legislation more urgent than ever,” said LCV Director of Cultural Strategies Maggie Bruns. “While a compromise that is in no way perfect, this bill is the single-largest investment in climate action in U.S. history. ”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Brice’s previous public art projects have been featured in the New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and the Guardian. Brice is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Howard Foundation Fellow at Brown University, a New York Foundation for the Arts Finalist, and is shortlisted for the COAL Art and Environment Prize (France) awarded to artists working to address ecological issues. He currently holds the title of Senior Fellow and Artist-in-Residence at the climate change think tank Woodwell Climate Research Center (fka Woods Hole Research Center), and is a Distinguished Fellow and Special Envoy to the Ecological Crisis at the Pratt School of Architecture.
Brice frequently collaborates with scientists, poets and philosophers to produce work that enables a greater understanding of climate change and the ecological crisis. Notably, this includes a series of missions he’s flown with NASA scientists beginning in 2015 to document Greenland’s rapidly changing ice, images which he used as source material in his work.
Solo shows include Somerset House (London); the Norton Museum of Art (West Palm Beach); the Fisher Museum (Los Angeles); the Anchorage Museum; and Lincoln Center. Group shows include the 2019 Venice Biennale (official collateral event); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; Storm King Arts Center; Anderson Ranch; and Colby College Museum of Art among others. His 2018 public art project Climate Signals produced by the Climate Museum, in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of NYC, and was seen across all 5 boroughs of New York City.