Environmentalist McKibben discusses art’s impact on climate action

lecture with two men in chairs
Posted on November 2, 2018

By Denise Valenti for the Office of Communications

The original article can be found on the Princeton University Homepage

Art — painting and photography, in particular — has played an important role in building a romantic narrative of United States history. It also has the potential to inspire people to protect the very wilderness that has been destroyed in the making of the nation, said author and environmentalist Bill McKibben at a lecture Thursday evening in Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University.

“The daguerreotypes that began emerging from the Adirondacks in the 1860s and '70s showing the destruction of that forest … those were the first images like that to hit the American eye,” he said. “And it was no accident that the Adirondacks became the first real site of conservation.”

Video of the talk is available on PEI's YouTube channel.

McKibben’s talk, “Art, Activism and the Chance for Change,” was hosted by the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) and the Princeton University Art Museum in conjunction with the exhibition “Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment.” “Nature’s Nation,” which is open to the public through Jan. 6, gathers more than 100 works of art — from the colonial period to the present — to examine how American artists have both reflected and shaped environmental understanding, while contributing to the emergence of a modern ecological consciousness.