Cool Globes: Hot Public Art for a Cooler Planet


From left: "Sustainable Farming" by Kari Kaplan, "Green Schools" by Lawrence Hall Youth Services, and "Wind Power" by Karen Ami

If you happened to have been out and about Chicago between June and September, you might have noticed these massive sculpted globes, around five feet in diameter, lined up along the city's lakefront from the Field Museum to Navy Pier. Well it was probably hard not to, and that was the entire idea.

"[The] globes are so big—as the problem of climate change is so big—that you can’t avoid it. You have to confront it," said Wendy Abrams during the energy and climate change working session on the first day of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting. "But at the same time, each globe was decorated by the different artist to showcase a solution to climate change. The sense is that there are so many things we can do about this."The idea for the massive art installation was first seeded at last year's CGI, with Abrams wanting to draw public attention to the issues surrounding climate change. "The general public seems to tune out the idea of climate change because they feel helpless and hopeless and overwhelmed with the idea," she said. "Even if they believe that it’s happening, they feel, 'I can’t do anything about it anyway.' So how do we get to these people who don’t read the books and don’t even go to the museums? The idea was to put something right in front of them, use public art as the medium with which to capture their attention."

The 125 giant globes—designed by artists from around the world, including Jim Dine, Yair Engel, Tom Van Sant, and Jaume Plensa—were complemented by around 200 11-inch-wide mini-globes, with contributions from personalities such as Magic Johnson, astronaut Jim Lovell, filmmaker Ken Burns, R.E.M., and the Blue Man Group. And in four days time, the whole kit and kaboodle will be up for auction, with proceeds benefiting environmental education, in conjunction with the Chicago Conservation Clubs and the Field Museum.

Aptly, Cool Globes is a carbon-neutral endeavor, but we wouldn't have expected anything less. ::Cool Globes

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