07 Jun America’s National Parks – a glimpse into the future.
The Works Projects Administration which was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s and 1940s, put millions of unemployed Americans to work. Employed via the WPA were a plethora of unemployed artists and photographers who were commissioned to create paintings, murals, sculptures, graphic art, photography, theatre sets, museum scenes, arts and crafts, and two million silkscreened posters which promoted education, the arts, public health, travel, as well as war propaganda.
From 1935 to 1943 around fourteen hundred posters were printed to lure visitors to the US’s national parks. Only a fraction (41) are accounted for today. This is thanks to the tireless work of a former park ranger, nature photographer, and artist named Doug Leen (who goes by Ranger Doug).
Fast forward almost 100 years to the clever recreation of these artworks by 31-year-old painter and illustrator, Hannah Rothstein who has subtly depicted how the treasured landscapes of America’s national parks will look by 2050 if our current environmental disregard and ignorance towards climate change continues.
The sombre recreations are certainly not lazy abstract impressions of the originals but rather educated illustrations based on facts from the National Park Service website as well as numerous climate change articles written about the parks.
Hannah’s motives were not of doom and gloom or depressive post-apocalyptic scenarios, but rather those of acknowledging that these environments are being affected quite profoundly and creating the dialogue to promote action against it.
“After the election, there were many issues I was concerned about, but climate change was at the top of the list. It’s a one way street with no U-turns, and we need to act against it as quickly as possible. Since art is my way of contributing to dialogue, I knew I wanted to make a project to address this issue, I just wasn’t sure what form it would take. It took a month of thinking, but in December, I struck upon the concept that “felt right” and set to work immediately.” – Hannah Rothstein
I know we're capable of positive change in this department, and we can't afford to ignore climate change any longer. I hope that this series helps inspire acknowledgement, discussion, and action. - Rothstein