Photography and Original Illustration Contest
Sabine Wolpert (15) – California, U.S.
As a little kid, I thought that life was like a flat line with bumps and dips rarely occurring. The news of floods, earthquakes, and fires might flash across the news but they were never close enough to really touch my life. Now that I’m older, these natural disasters are closer to where I live. The rainy season seemed shorter than I remembered and signs started to appear in restaurants and hotels saying “save water” or “minimize your water use.”
When fires got really close, little pieces of ash, like black rain, would fall from the sky. Soon I learned that these events were not random, and I realized how responsible we were, how responsible we are. I began to learn how connected we are to our environment. I began to realize that it mattered whether I kept the water running for that extra minute or left the hose on for too long. When the fires got so close to our house that evacuation was a threat, I had to pack a bag and look at the forest outside wondering whether it wouldn’t be there in a month or a week or tomorrow.
I have been lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I get to see the ocean, the redwood forests, and thousands of blossoms hanging over daffodils in the spring. It’s dark enough at night to see a thousand stars and quiet enough in the morning to hear birds and bees. I have grown up in nature, and I am so saddened to see our earth deteriorating at our hands. I think that people can become so used to our luxuries that we forget how fragile and impermanent they can be. I hope my artwork can help people remember how connected to the environment we are. I think we all need to remember that we live in the environment and it lives in us. We breathe the same air as butterflies and our hair gets blown by the wind that sways tree branches. We must come together to save our land because it will not last if we continue to treat it as disposable. It is our responsibility as people to save the earth that provides us life.
Marguerite Baxter (18) – Minnesota, U.S.
I was walking down my alley, a place that I visit everyday. It was spring and the snow was melting into puddles. When I looked into the puddle, I could see a perfectly clear image of myself and my surroundings. In this moment, I understood how I was a part of the environment and Earth. The reflection of my small hand as I recognized this symbolizes my connection to the environment. Living in a city, natural and man-made beauty is intermixed. Both exist together, but not always in harmony. I believe that all of these things can be beautiful together, but they must respect one another.
This work is a love story to the planet, as I appreciate that in the tiniest puddle a whole environment can be reflected. What a beautiful and miraculous thing. I was taking a moment to see myself as a part of that environment, not separate but a part. Reaching out and placing myself in it. I loved that puddle and I loved the asphalt that looked like a million little stars. I want this work to communicate the tiny details that people so often walk by and ignore. There are truly millions of miracles around us all of the time: the perfect circles that raindrops make in puddles, the way that our bodies can heal themselves, how still water can perfectly reflect like a mirror. This earth is amazing and resilient. This recognition is the first step to understanding how to solve our problems. It starts with love. We must love our environment and recognize all of the beauty in it to become passionate protectors of it. We are not more powerful than nature. We are nature.
Ellie Knight (16) – North Carolina, U.S.
The world creeps up on you in the most unexpected ways sometimes. In the beginning, you may not even notice any changes, but it makes itself known pretty quickly. The excerpt written by Robert Hass inspired this photograph as a reminder that the world wasn’t always like this. My photo reflects our environment from two different times, one where climate change seemed as though it wasn’t an issue and one where its stark existence is hitting so close to home.
I like to show my passion for photography through seemingly basic pictures that take on a double meaning. The side with trees looks way more lively than the reflection it shows in the water.
Climate change directly influences the way autumn appears—the warmer air stunts the development of coloring within the leaves. The noticeable delay in autumn color has caused the season to become a three-day homage. Most people know about climate change, but it goes without a word, just like autumn leaves. I noticed the significance of the color yellow, which can represent a joyful, energetic mood. The problem with our society right now is that no one has that spark of energy to save our planet; we’ve lost our yellow. To quote Hass, it is in our best interest to “recover an elder imagination of the earth.” If my photograph could be used to communicate to my peers, I would want it to say that the world around us is the only planet we get. It’s our only chance at life, and we need to get back to a time when these global forces weren’t so life-threatening and find the yellow within ourselves to do what we can now. If you look closely at the reflection, you can see some raindrops. Those droplets, however, make the reflection a bit blurry. This documents my feelings by expressing that environmental issues, like climate change, are still a little blurry to me. Everyone starts somewhere, and there is always room to learn. The environment is in you, and you just have to make an effort to bring it out and show the world what it really means to you.
Romina Arredondo (18) – Naucalpan, Mexico
The Face of Progress
A leaf rotten from its center.
A dark stain that at its fervor steps burns.
A leaf without precedents nor relations.
I am the only witness of its existence.
And even though I don’t watch, it lives and dies.
Observant, I find the stain taking shape in its expansion.
Clouds of steam push towards the edges of the leaf
Unpainting every green brush stroke with indifference.
Agonizing, the leaf talks to me through its pattern
and its drawing has the face of progress.
Two sentences inspired the creation of my project. Linda Hogan wrote, “What a strange alchemy we have worked, turning earth around to destroy itself, using earth’s own elements to wound it.” And, Wendell Berry wrote, “The environment is in you, it’s passing through you, you’re breathing it in and out, you and every other creature.” Both statements address the arrogance and impudence of human beings who feel that they are the owner of everything and then become destroyers. The process that I carried out to embody the idea was to put an acetate with a photo of a factory on a leaf of a plant called Pothos, so that it would be printed under the sunlight.
We find so many resources in the nature environment, and instead of taking care of and thank that source of wealth, man is coldly exploiting it. Hand in hand with the above, we have built a hierarchy in which we, as humans, are above everything and that is now part of our molding, so we ignore the fact that as living beings that make up the same world, we are equal. As individuals we exclude ourselves from what we consider to be resources, and we turn them into products that unbalance the environmental order.