Climate crisis focus of cross-venue exhibit curated by Abington art instructor

Artwork by Byron Wolfe

Byron Wolfe, "Vanished Volcano Visualization Kit" (detail), 2023. Resin-infused native California black oak, Eastern white oak, clear resin, digital pigment prints on linen-mounted bamboo inkjet paper.

Credit: Byron Wolfe

ABINGTON, Pa. — Penn State Abington art instructor Julia Clift’s first venture into curation, "Seeing the Anthropocene" (StA), opens Oct. 28 in Philadelphia as a cross-venue exhibition that thoughtfully explores the climate crisis and urgent environmental issues through works by a diverse roster of international collaborators.  

“Many works in the show point to the concept that we humans are part of nature rather than beyond or above it,” Clift said. “I think it's important for that perspective to spread, culturally, to seed meaningful change. The show is about envisioning a more sustainable future. I want the audience to walk away feeling energized rather than simply despairing.” 

Pieces by 13 sound and visual artists and scientists as well as an ensemble shed light on the policies, conventions and attitudes that led to the climate crisis and sustain it today. 

There are several unexpected and remarkable elements to the exhibition, including:  

  • Artist Austen Camille’s large-scale augmented reality (AR) animation over the Delaware River will feature live music by the ENAensemble during an opening reception at Philadelphia’s Cherry Street Pier on Nov. 4. 

  • At the Tiger Strikes Asteroid venue, about 2 miles from the Cherry Street Pier, visitors will experience the first prototype of "The Immersion Project," a collaboration between artists and oceanographers that incorporates large-scale coral-inspired sculptures, AR animation, and sound into a multisensory installation to educate the public about deep sea ecosystems.   

  • Camille’s AR animation within "The Immersion Project" at Tiger Strikes Asteroid and an evocative collaboration there between a visual and a sound artist tie the two sites together. 

For Clift, curating StA evolved organically from her distress about the current state of the planet. 

“I felt compelled to say something,” she said. “It made the most sense to articulate that 'something' as a conversation between insightful, poignant artworks. The climate crisis influences my own artistic practice, and I see my paintings as related to all of the works in this show.”

When it came to selecting artists for StA, Clift chose those whose work she admires and who influence her.  

“I think the artists who I've had the privilege to work with over the past several years for StA have inspired me to be more fearless and ambitious. I can't wait to get back to the studio and see what emerges after this whole, powerful experience,” she said. 

Craft’s personal art practice and passion for specific artists and types of artwork trickles into her drawing and art appreciation students at Penn State Abington, but she exposes them to a broad array of creators. 

“It's very important that my students are exposed to a wide range of historical and contemporary artists with diverse artistic objectives. For the more advanced students, it's my job to support their own research and help them develop and fulfill their own creative goals,” she said. 

If You Go 

Seeing the Anthropocene 

When: Oct. 28 to Dec. 2 

Where: Simultaneously at Tiger Strikes Asteroid, located at 1400 N. American St., and the Cherry Street Pier, both in Philadelphia 

Opening Receptions  

  • Cherry Street Pier: Saturday, Nov. 4, from 6-8 p.m. with a live performance at 6 p.m.  

  • Tiger Strikes Asteroid: Thursday, Nov. 9, from 6-9 p.m. 

About Penn State Abington 

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,100 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 25 majors, accelerated master's degrees, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics and more.