A semester-long series partnership between University of Massachusetts School of Earth & Sustainability (SES) , the Fine Arts Center (FAC), and the Master of Fine Arts for Poets and Writers (MFA) is devoted to illuminating ecological crises and addressing climate injustice. With support from the Chancellor's Sustainability Advisory Committee, the series includes performances, readings, and discussions with prominent scholars, scientists, and artists, along with students and community members about pressing environmental issues, promising solutions, and the power of creative arts to inspire collective action.
Transforming Crisis seeks to precipitate action, transformation, collaboration, even joy. What can we learn from the tumult of the moment? What is the solace of beauty? What are the possibilities of action?
Reading & Discussion, 7:00 – 8:30 pm, Monday, April 5
Amitav Ghosh, author of The Great Derangement, will read and discuss the imaginative possibilities of climate awareness and action. Moderated by writer and activist Emily Raboteau, co-sponsored by the MFA for Poets and Writers, Orion, the Department of Comparative Literature, and the Environmental Humanities Program.
Miwa Matreyek: Infinitely Yours, 7:00 pm, Tuesday, April 6
Further pushing her signature technique of layered projections, Los Angeles-based multimedia artist Miwa Matreyek creates an emotional, dream-like meditation on climate catastrophe and the Anthropocene - the current era where human influence has affected almost all realms of earth’s natural systems. The screening of Matreyek’s 25-minute film will open with the presentation of works created by UMass students earlier in the semester during her Shadow Workshop series. A Q&A with the artist will conclude the event. Free for UMass students, open to the public for a small ticket fee.
Climate Crisis & Response Discussion, 7:00 pm, Wednesday, April 7
Miwa Matreyek along with scientists, thought leaders, and activists discuss pressing environmental issues, promising solutions, and the power of creative arts and communication to inspire collective action. Free and open to the public.
Moderator, MADELEINE CHARNEY, Sustainability Studies Research & Liaison Services Librarian
Charney, is a research services librarian with a transdisciplinary perspective and a practitioner of systems thinking, contemplative pedagogy, and regenerative change-making. Madeleine is a member of the Chancellor's Sustainability Advisory Committee and co-founder of the Sustainability Curriculum Fellowship program. She is also a co-founder of the American Library Association's Sustainability Round Table: Libraries Fostering Resilient Communities.
MIWA MATREYEK, Our series featured artist
Miwa Matreyek is an animator, director, designer, and performer based in Los Angeles. She has been an internationally touring independent artist since 2010. Coming from a background in animation by way of collage, Miwa Matreyek creates live, staged performances where she interacts with her animations as a shadow silhouette, at the cross-section of cinematic and theatrical, fantastical and tangible, illusionistic and physical. Her work exists in a dreamlike visual space that makes invisible worlds visible, often weaving surreal and poetic narratives of conflict between man and nature. Her work exists both in the realm of hand-made and tech. She travels as a one-woman show, often incorporating artist talks and workshops. Miwa performs her interdisciplinary shadow performances all around the world, including animation/film festivals, theater/performance festivals, art museums, science museums, and tech conferences. A few past presenters include TED, MOMA, Lincoln Center, Sundance New Frontier, Future of Storytelling conference, Exploratorium, Adler Planetarium, ISEA conference, Meta.Morph
(Norway), Anima Mundi (Brazil), Houston Cinematic Arts Festival, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and many more. She has also performed at many universities, including Texas A&M, Boston University, USC, UC San Diego, University of Michigan, Western Carolina University, University of Illinois in Champagne-Urbana, University of Hawaii in Hilo, and more.
Miwa received her MFA for Experimental Animation and Integrated Media from CalArts and is also a co-founder and core collaborator of the multi-media theater company, Cloud Eye Control. She is a recipient of the Sherwood Award (2016), Creative Capital Award (2013), Princess Grace Award (2007), and Princess Grace Foundation’s Special Projects award (2009, 2012). Cloud Eye Control is a recipient of several awards and grants including MAP fund (2013), National Theater Project grant by NEFA (2013), NPN Creation Fund (2008). She won Student Grand Prix with her performance, Dreaming Lucid Living at Platform International Animation Festival in 2007. She has made commissioned performance work (Pop-up magazine), as well as worked as a video designer for the Austin-based theater company Rude Mechs, Norway Based dance company Carte Blanche, and the Vancouver-based Dance company 605 Collective.
LAUREN DE LA PARRA, Writer, artist, and climate resilience planner
Lauren focuses her work at the intersection of climate action and creative engagement, working collaboratively across sectors to empower communities to drive infrastructural, environmental, and societal change. With a background in literary publishing focused on sustainability, combined with extensive experience in municipal climate resilience planning, Lauren brings a unique lens to the work of tackling the climate crisis. She holds an MS in Sustainability Science with a concentration in Urban Sustainability, and a Graduate Certificate in Climate Change, Hazards, and Green Infrastructure, both from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Lauren is currently based in Portland, Maine, serving clients across New England and beyond. Through her interdisciplinary work, she aspires to transform systems and mindsets, creating a more equitable and just future for all in the process
ROB DECONTO, climate scientist, IPCC lead author, SES Co-Director
Rob DeConto is a Professor of Geosciences and Co-Director of the School of Earth & Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Previously, he held research positions at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Rob studies polar climate change, the response of ice sheets to a warming climate, and coastal impacts of sea-level rise. Rob serves on international science advisory boards and is a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
EMMALIE DROPKIN, fiction writer, teacher, and activist
Emmalie Dropkin has had a series of careers as a writer, teacher, and activist and currently serves as the Director of Data, Planning, and Evaluation for Head Start & Early Learning Programs in the Pioneer Valley. She has been a coordinator for Extinction Rebellion Western Massachusetts for the past two years. In her broader climate work, Emmalie developed a climate-themed writing course for first-year UMass students, and she writes climate fiction that explores the ways that environmental change may unfold and the kind of collaborative action that will be required to survive. Her writing can be found most recently in The Massachusetts Review. She holds degrees from Amherst College, UMass Amherst, and elsewhere.
MALCOLM SEN, Sustainability author and scholar
Malcolm Sen teaches in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His research focuses on questions of sovereignty, sustainability, migration, and race as they emerge in climate change discourse. His monograph, entitled Unnatural Disasters: Literature, Climate Change, and Sovereignty, will be published by Syracuse University Press in 2021. Sen is co-editor of Postcolonial Studies and the Challenges for the New Millennium (Routledge, 2016), and a co-editor of Race in Irish Literature and Culture (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2022). He is the editor of The History of Irish Literature and the Environment (New York: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2021). Other recent publications include essays on SARS CoV2’s intersectional effects and modernist apocalypses in poetry and prose.
Check out the series page to learn about other events taking place throughout the semester.