Life exhausts; it runs out and eventually expires.
But as stewards of the earth, there are many ways that we as humans can go about trying to preserve and regenerate as much of life as possible, for as long as possible-- through recycling and conservation efforts, choosing clean fuel energy, reducing waste and protecting our ecosystems.
As logical as it may all sound, however, these practices are not second nature for us: They require an extra dose of discipline, time, work and awareness.
The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (BSRC), the Pratt Center for Community Development and Pratt’s Initiative for Arts, Community, and Social Change (IACSC) recognized the need for this awareness in communities like Central Brooklyn, and they felt, what better way to raise awareness and inspire action than through art?
So, through financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation, this coalition of Bed-Stuy organizations brought together the works of artists from across the country and also abroad for an exhibition on environmental sustainability and preservation.
The exhibit, entitled “Amplify Action: Sustainability Through the Arts," opened April 21, at the Skylight Gallery and will run until July 27. The exhibit takes a broad-based artistic approach to showing how arts, culture and media can be powerful catalysts for sustainability and social change.
"And sustainability is not just about the environment, or recycling or retrofitting," said Rasu Jilani, the exhibit's curator and project manager. "It's also about social sustainability. What do we do to promote the long-term life and advancement of our communities? This can mean anything, from speaking to our neighbors, to cleaning up, to investing back in our own local businesses.
"It starts with the individual, then the community and then extends outward."
Through paintings, murals, sculptures and live art, the exhibit gives the community a chance to engage with artistic themes of ecology, equity, resource conservation and efficiency, agriculture, architecture, environmental health and even eco-justice.
Each piece is awe-inspiring and as unique as its creator. And unlike so many abstract art pieces that arrive nuanced with messages often only fully understood by its author, the ones in this exhibit read unified, clean and clear: protect and preserve.
"Bed-Stuy has a lot of different organizations that are invested in seeing sustainability come to fruition," said Jilani. "But we have to take action. We have to hold ourselves accountable by investing in these types of ideas.
"So come out to the exhibit, look at some of the artists' ideas, and hopefully it will inspire you to invest in sustainable living in your own community."