Visual Arts

In a startling variety of ways, contemporary artists are exploring the relationship that our species has to its planet. We have aggregated some of this very intriguing work below. If you have suggestions for works to add to the gallery, please contact us.

Works can also be viewed in portfolio view.

2014-15 Curator: Julia Olson

They say you can’t control the weather—but for Berndnaut Smilde, that’s exactly his life’s work. The Dutch artist is known for his “Nimbus” series, in which he creates perfect, fluffy clouds in unique indoor spaces: churches, castles, dungeons, and most recently, in honor of Frieze New York, NeueHouse on 25th Street. The only lasting memory of his series is singular photograph—the perfect picture of the cloud in that space—which Smilde and his team work endlessly to capture.

He loved the duality of bringing something outdoor, indoor, as well as the duality of clouds themselves. “They can, for example, stand for the divine but also for something threatening or misfortunate,” he said. “Clouds are something really universal. Something that people give meaning to.” (source).



Husband and wife team Paul Roden and Valerie Lueth are the artistic minds behind Tugboat Printshop. Established in 2006, the two employ the traditional process of printmaking to create high quality and affordable contemporary pieces. Through their work, the talented pair strive to keep the art of printmaking alive, fostering public appreciation and interest in the traditional process. After three years of meticulous drawing, carving, and printing, their original colour woodblock print Outlook has finally been unveiled.

Outlook is a dizzyingly detailed 46″ x 30″ landscape carving depicting rolling hills, sweeping fields, pine-dotted mountain ranges, and lush forests.  Through the use of traditional art production processes, Tugboat Printshop can reveal how mass communication once distributed a simple message through complex mechanisms. (source).



Desginer John Edmark’s 3D-printed Fibonacci zoetrope sculptures come alive as they spin beneath a strobe. Every time they turn 137.5º–a number known as the golden angle– a synced flash of light creates the apparent motion of an infinitely spiraling structure.

“If change is the only constant in nature, it is written in the language of geometry,” Edmark writes in his artist’s statement. Inspired by the same mathematics found in nature, such as the shapes of pinecones and sunflowers, Edmark created these works. (source).



On a quiet island in Norway, a cavernous structure protruding out of permafrost holds over 770,000 seeds of plants from all over  the globe in case of a sudden “doomsday” scenario or plant-pocalypse. This is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the spark for artist Kaitlyn Schwalje’s macrophotography project, Seeds Under Microscope.

“I work on the premise that a single captivating image can be enough to make an otherwise inaccessible and dense topic exciting. It’s a form of packaging,” explains Schwalje, whose background is in physics and designs. “Behind the image of  a seed is a rich and timeless story about agricultural futures and climate change; a story spanning continents and centuries. Any level of investigation uncovers new knowledge.” (source).



Mineral crystals grown on thin threads form the shape of a chair in this installation by Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka. He created the Spider’s Thread sculpture of a chair by suspending just seven filaments within a frame that was set in a pool of mineral solution. The solution was drawn up the threads and gradually formed into crystals around them, fleshing out into the shape of a piece of furniture. “Spider’s Thread applies the structure of natural crystals in an advanced way aiming to produce a form even closer to the natural form,” said Yoshioka. The designer says this iteration references a traditional story by Japanese writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa. “The Buddha takes a thread of a spider in Heaven and lowers it down to Hell so that the criminal can climb up from Hell to Paradise,” explains Yoshioka. “In the story, the thread of a spider is a symbol of slight hope and fragility.” (source).