Art and Climate Change

gtt_mobileunitThe international artist collective Ghana ThinkTank is working with students this year to identify problems related to climate change and implement the solutions on campus.

Invited by the Williams College Museum of Art as part of the campus-wide initiative Confronting Climate Change, the collective upends what its organizers call a “simplistic dichotomy: first world/ third world; powerful/powerless” by creating think tanks in developing countries to solve issues in the developed world.

Says Sonnet Coggins, the museum’s associate director for academic and public engagement, “This innovative approach to public art reveals blind spots between otherwise disconnected cultures. It challenges assumptions about who is ‘needy’ and turns the idea of expertise on its head.”

Williams community members are visiting the collective’s mobile unit throughout the fall to answer the question, “How does climate change relate to YOU?” Responses will be sent to think tanks in Morocco and Indonesia, which will develop solutions that could be implemented on campus in the spring.

Meanwhile, a Winter Study class will work with the collective to create an installation about climate change in the museum’s Rotunda. And students on a spring break trip to Detroit will help develop a courtyard shared by commercial and residential buildings as part of Ghana ThinkTank’s solution to the problem of neighborhood cohesiveness in the face of gentrification.

Says professor of art Michael Glier ’75, whose Drawing 101 class is collaborating with the collective, “Ghana ThinkTank provides an extraordinary reversal of assumptions about power and creativity. I appreciate their optimism about the future and that they see art as a way to have agency in a complex, confusing world.”

—Julia Munemo