Climate change has presented humanity with the most profound and urgent challenge ever faced. Reflecting upon my understanding of rising environmental concerns, I use my practice to combine art with research to address how we interact and perceive the natural world.
Using SketchUp and Photoshop, I collage together texturally contrasting imagery to create surreal environmental spaces that I translate into medium-scale acrylic paintings. I construct scenes from photographs collected from various library digital archives, specifically using images from the 1950s to comment on the lasting effects of the second and third Industrial Revolutions. The introduction of automated mass-production occurred during the Industrial Revolution and combined with the economic growth of the 50s, significantly contributed to how our global society has embraced exploitative human activities, both socially and systemically. These human activities have dominated and disposed of the natural environment through capitalistic values. I view this imagery from a time of ignorance and naivety regarding human-induced climate change and consider it through present socio-political and economic contexts. The intertwining of factual information with bombardments of fake news, has made addressing climate change a complicated battle.
These pieces feature a digitally rendered dollhouse that plays upon its function to be manipulated and deconstructed, connecting to the intensifying natural disasters that have devastated houses and lives. The dollhouse, symbolizing the home, hovers above a distorted and abstracted water texture with saturated and inorganic colours, visualizing the toxicity of what we put into our environment.
In my art, I work to find a balance between visualizing chaos and tranquility; by depicting the naivety of those who are withdrawn by their busy consumerist lifestyles. Absorbed by material goods or media, society is left idly unaware as our world progressively deteriorates.
Jill Letten is an artist based in Hamilton, Ontario, and is currently seeking a BFA in the Studio Arts program at McMaster University. Growing up around a lower-middle class area prominent with industrialized factories and toxic waters, the visible effects of a gradually degrading environment became normalized. Jill explores climate change through experiences and scientific research to understand and address challenging subject matter that is often disregarded or denied in society. Her work manifests itself into acrylic paintings, visualizing environments with realistic and surrealistic elements.