The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Carolina Aragón is Forecasting the Future — In Order to Change It

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Students using ladder to build wall with blue crates.Climate change can feel very conceptual, straining our imaginations to visualize problems and potential solutions. Carolina Aragón, artist and assistant professor of landscape architecture, works with her students to design attention-grabbing art installations that highlight the impacts of climate change.

The installations aren’t just beautiful—and ominous—they’re accurate depictions of our future based on current calculations of climate change progression. For example, the FutureWATERS installation shows how high flood waters could reach in East Boston, allowing the public to physically understand and digest the information. “Our program is a wonderful blend of science and art that gives students unique opportunities to explore how they can directly contribute to improving our shared environment,” Aragón explains.

Joyia Smikle ’22 worked with Aragón on the FutureWATERS project. “It was a really special experience for me,” She says, “Bringing awareness to climate change in a manner that visualized the rising sea levels really put art and its intersection with landscape architecture into perspective. This experience started my love for resilience planning, which I hope will be incorporated into my future career.”

Nigel Cummings ’21MLA, who participated in several projects, says, “I find the challenges unveiled by climate change to be exciting to solve. The necessity for such interventions requires designers to throw out what we think we know and open our minds to possibilities we may have never imagined."

A version of this article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue of UMass Magazine.