Ecotactical: Earth Day at 50

Ecotactical: Earth Day at 50

Although scheduled to open on April 16, 2020 and postponed due to the corona-virus pandemic, Earth Day and the work of these artists remains more important than ever, and we are happy to be back on track running this exhibition. The exhibition will be on display on September 21, and a virtual reception will follow September 24. 6′ social distancing and masks are required when visiting the gallery, with three visitors permitted in the space at once.

Do we still need Earth Day as it was conceived in 1970? What do we need from it now?

When the first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency did not yet exist, nor did much of what we now know as the tapestry of environmental laws in the United States. Often credited with launching the modern environmental movement, the first Earth Day took place in a political climate thick with protests against the Vietnam War and the major American civil rights movement. According to the Earth Day Network organization, Earth Day is now the largest secular observance in the world and is celebrated by more than a billion people each year. Over the years, commemorations of Earth Day have included political demonstrations along with celebrations of the natural world, tree plantings, and other encouragements of individual actions in support of environmental health. As we look toward the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April 2020, it feels like a very different time. Yet, the turmoil of our own moment and the increasing urgency of the climate crisis give the historical roots of the first Earth Day new relevance. Artists have played an important role in Earth Day from the beginning, regularly contributing graphic posters and iconography to buoy the movement, participating in Earth Day exhibitions, and offering dramatic, performative actions. Recognizing this rich legacy, the Schuylkill Center will host a gallery exhibition of works that respond to the question of what Earth Day means (or should mean) fifty years after it was first celebrated. Site-specific sculpture opportunities along with programming and events are also available.

Support for this exhibition has been provided by the Joseph Robert Foundation.

Kristen Neville Taylor will create an arrangement in the gallery that incorporates elements of the history and imagery of Earth Day, environmental activism in Powelton Village, and her own connections to these movements.

Sophy Tuttle suggests that grief, memory, reverence, and celebration need to be added to Earth Day, and will display Solastalgia, a memorial to the estimated 150-200 species that go extinct every day.

Pili X presents photographic documentation of how the North Philly Peace Park operates at the radical confluence of alternative urban farming methods, active engagement of liberated communities, and holistic biodynamic approaches to health & wellness, environmental justice, and climate change.

Documentation of Tools for Action and Katherine Ball’s inflatable sculptures from the People’s Climate March in 2014 and other recent environmental demonstrations, making a connection between the activist origins of Earth Day in the 1960s and more contemporary expression of artists in activism.

Nicole Donnelly will create sculptures of invasive vines and handmade plant-based paper which incorporate elements of color and imagery related to the Earth Day theme.

Julia Way Rix will install sculptural flags along sections of our trails which draw from signs and slogans from recent climate strikes and environmental demonstrations (a preview of this work will be on view at High School Park for Earth Day 2020).

Philadelphia-based duo Ants on a Log will present documentation of their family-friendly eco-musical, Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline!, a deeply researched, fun, folky performance the follows a young girl’s journey from environmental awareness into community organizing.

Meg Lemieur and Bri Barton will present Water Ways, a series of illustrations and workshops which share the interconnected stories of water, health, and justice.

Watch a virtual tour on our YouTube Channel.