For those of us who are more than familiar with dire news about climate change impacts like extended and widespread droughts, slowly submerging islands and melting glaciers, it make take some skillful means to get fresh attention on something we think we know all about. But that's what artist and surfer Sean Yoro, a.k.a. Hula, is doing with these detailed painted murals on blocks of melting sea ice, to bring our attention again to the urgency of rapidly changing climates that will affect us all.
Yoro, who was born on Oahu, Hawaii and is now based in New York City, paints these realistic, large-scale portraits of women that seem to be rising out of the water. Yoro typically paddles on a surfboard to get up close to whatever surface he's painting on, and then remains there, balanced and working away for any time from a few hours to a few days to complete an image.
Yoro says that he first got the idea to paint these murals while doing an underwater shoot back in 2014. "I loved being in the water and still working creatively, so the concept grew from there," he says.
These particular images on the sea ice are actually painted on a prepared surface and then attached to the ice. Yoro has titled it "A’o ‘Ana", which means "The Warning" in Hawaiian. The concept is to get the viewer to get past the familiar facts about melting sea ice and to look at the scene anew. Yoro describes the intense, felt experience of this melting up close:
In the short time I was there, I witnessed the extreme melting rate first hand as the sound of ice cracking was an instant background noise while painting. Within a few weeks, these murals will be forever gone, but for those who find them, I hope they ignite a sense of urgency, as they represent the millions of people in need of our help who are already being afflicted from the rising sea levels of climate change.
Art helps to reframe the dialogue on any pressing issue, for better or for worse. The unexpected beauty of these half-submerged portraits compels us to look at the stark, icy landscape from a different perspective, reminding us that there is still much more we can do in our lives and in our communities to alter the course of global climate change. More over at Hula.