Beyond Despair: An Environmental Call for Art

On Exhibit at the National Humanities Center April 1–June 30, 2019

Presented by the National Humanities Center in partnership with Visual Art Exchange, Raleigh, North Carolina, and with the generous support of RTI International, Burroughs Wellcome Fund and TUCASI.

When faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges, a common human response is to fall into a resigned paralysis. We look for someone smarter, richer, or braver who will solve our problems and save the day, and in doing so we liberate ourselves from a sense of personal responsibility. Moving past this feeling of helplessness is a crucial step for the future of our planet, and it is imperative that we find ways in which we can become more accountable citizens of the global environment. One of the first steps in the transition from frightened bystanders to impassioned advocates is to foster a personal kinship with the world around us.

The artists in this exhibition explore relationships with nature in many ways, from meditations on what we have and stand to lose, to evidence of the impacts we have already made on our environment. Far from depictions of horrific scenes or propaganda, these pieces are quiet invitations that ask the viewer to consider beauty, land, and loss. They are unflinching mirrors and humane elegies that create a space for deliberation and ask us to shake off the dust of inactivity and move beyond despair.

Joshua White, Beyond Despair Curator
Assistant Professor, Department of Art
Appalachian State University

Claire Alexandre, “Resistance”


Claire Alexandre

Laurie Riccadonna, “Throw Away”

Throw Away

Laurie Riccadonna