When Liz Forelle was studying environmental science at Skidmore College she found it hard to explain her capstone project on soil science to her non-science- major friends.
“I told them it’s really not that hard, it’s just soil — really just a bunch of dirt,” Forelle said. “But a lot of times when people hear the word ‘science’ they get freaked out.”
Forelle shared her frustrations with one of her art professors. She wanted to figure out a way to explain her science through art, but she wanted to bridge the disciplines in a more meaningful way than simply painting a beautiful landscape.
“I want to move people in a way where they start to care about the environment,” she said.
Forelle’s art teacher turned her on to an art movement that uses scientific data as inspiration. Her debut show, “Fragility in a Changing Climate,” which opens this week at the Center for the Arts, follows that tradition.
For her show Forelle drew upon snowpack, glacier, temperature, wildlife collisions and park visitor data from the Greater Yellowstone Region and combined it with topographic maps, sketches and photography to create a wide range of mixed-media pieces.
“I’m hoping to connect people to scientific data in a more approachable way,” Forelle said. “I hope it sparks conversation around what’s happening in Jackson.”
The Center for the Arts is hosting an opening reception for Forelle, who will be traveling from Bend, Oregon, for the show, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Before she moved to Bend, Forelle worked as field educator at Teton Science Schools.
“I found it was really useful to use art and art projects as a way to educate people about their surroundings,” she said.
An event put on by Off Square Theatre Company this week is also harnessing the power of art — in this instance theater — to speak on the topic of conservation.
On Thursday Off Square will host a performance of the Climate Change Theatre Action Project. The international project enlisted playwrights from all over the world to write short climate change plays that have been performed at theaters in over 50 countries.
Off Square picked six plays to be read for Thursday’s performance. Natalia Macker, Off Square’s artistic director, said she hopes the plays spark conversations about how we consume and what changes we can make in our daily lives to better the environment.
“How can we, as a theater, demonstrate ideas that spark dialogue and drive meaningful action?” Macker said.
A cast of community members will read the plays, including Macker, Emily Cohen, Pete Muldoon, Kim Springer, Adrian Croke, Bob Berky and Mari Allan Hanna.
Macker’s favorite play is the last.
“I really like it because it presents our relationship to using Amazon and direct delivery services,” she said. “It demonstrates how good humans are at being conflicted — but in a fun way. When I read it, I thought, ‘I’ve been through this whole series of emotions.’ It explores our need for instant gratification, paired with the harder work that we have to change how we consume.”
The play readings will begin at 6 p.m. Attendees will have the chance afterward to see a sneak peek of Forelle’s exhibit.
“These shows are examples of the role that arts and culture can play in presenting perspectives that may be needed to really address these issues for future generations,” Macker said. ￼