The art of climate change

Artist Mary Edna Fraser creates stunning batiks based on nature and the mounting strains on it. They're currently on display at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.

When people think of batiks, many probably think of psychedelic wall hangings made in crafts class or at summer camp. They haven't seen Mary Edna Fraser's work.

Her hand-dyed canvases--some 8 feet tall or larger--depict the solar system, barrier reefs, hurricanes, tsunamis, oil spills, and melting glaciers in vibrant color and stunning narrative patterns.

To make batiks, removable wax is applied to fabric, creating areas that will repel dye while unwaxed areas absorb it. Much of Fraser's recent art represents her personal response to a warming planet .

"Current impacts of global change stir my scientific and artistic interest," she says.

Many of her climate change-themed works are on display through November 6 at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.

They're part of the exhibit "Our Expanding Oceans," which is a kind of artistic companion piece to the book "Global Climate Change: A Primer" by Orrin Pilkey, a Duke University professor emeritus of geology, and his son Keith. Fraser's batiks illustrate the book.

The batiks in the exhibit depict sites around the world that have been (or likely will be, according to scientists) impacted by climate change--Mount Kilamanjaro in Africa; the Mekong river in Vietnam; the Great Barrier Reef in Australia; the Selenga Delta in Russia; and a few sites closer to home, like Alaska and low-lying Boston.

Related stories
• Global climate talks can reach deal, says negotiator
• Climate impact threatens biodiesel future in EU
• SmatPlanet: Map reveals effects of climate change in your neighborhood

Fraser's work has been widely exhibited at venues including the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the National Academy of Sciences, and Duke University Museum of Art. She bases her batiks on extensive research--maps and charts; satellite and space imagery; and her own aerial photographs, which are often snapped with Nikon digital cameras from the open windows of her grandfather's vintage 1946 Ercoupe plane with her father or brother as pilots.

Have a click through the gallery to see batiks--and the climate change discussion--as you've probably never seen them before.

"Earthscaping," which measures 47 inches by 47 inches, is one of a series of Fraser's batiks motivated by global climate change. Mary Edna Fraser

About the author

Leslie Katz, Crave's senior editor, heads up a team that covers the most crushworthy (and wackiest) tech, science, and culture around. As a co-host of the now-retired CNET News Daily Podcast, she was sometimes known to channel Terry Gross and still uses her trained "podcast voice" to bully the speech recognition software on automated customer service lines. E-mail Leslie.


Discuss The art of climate change

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Show Comments Hide Comments
Latest Articles from CNET
The other analog format: Cassette tape decks have never been cheaper to buy