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  • I consider it my life's mission

  • to convey the urgency of climate change through my work.

  • I've traveled north to the Arctic to capture the unfolding story

  • of polar melt,

  • and south to the Equator to document the subsequent rising seas.

  • Most recently, I visited the icy coast of Greenland

  • and the low-lying islands of the Maldives,

  • connecting two seemingly disparate but equally endangered

  • parts of our planet.

  • My drawings explore moments of transition, turbulence

  • and tranquility in the landscape,

  • allowing viewers to emotionally connect

  • with a place you might never have the chance to visit.

  • I choose to convey the beauty as opposed to the devastation.

  • If you can experience the sublimity of these landscapes,

  • perhaps you'll be inspired to protect and preserve them.

  • Behavioral psychology tells us that we take action

  • and make decisions based on our emotions above all else.

  • And studies have shown that art impacts our emotions

  • more effectively than a scary news report.

  • Experts predict ice-free Arctic summers

  • as early as 2020,

  • And sea levels are likely to rise between two and ten feet

  • by century's end.

  • I have dedicated my career to illuminating these projections

  • with an accessible medium,

  • one that moves us in a way that statistics may not.

  • My process begins with traveling to the places

  • at the forefront of climate change.

  • On-site, I take thousands of photographs,

  • and back in the studio,

  • I work from both my memory of the experience and the photographs

  • to create very large-scale compositions,

  • sometimes over 10 feet wide.

  • I draw with soft pastel, which is dry like charcoal, but colors.

  • I consider my work drawings but others call them painting.

  • I cringe, though, when I'm referred to as a "finger painter."

  • (Laughter)

  • But I don't use any tools

  • and I have always used my fingers and palms

  • to manipulate the pigment on the paper.

  • Drawing is a form of meditation for me.

  • It quiets my mind.

  • I don't perceive what I'm drawing

  • as ice or water.

  • Instead, the image is stripped down

  • to its most basic form of color and shape.

  • Once the piece is complete,

  • I can finally experience the composition as a whole,

  • as an iceberg floating through glassy water,

  • or a wave cresting with foam.

  • On average, a piece this size takes me about,

  • as you can see, 10 seconds.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • Really, more like 200 hours, 250 hours for something that size.

  • But I've been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon, really.

  • My mom was an artist, and growing up,

  • we always had art supplies all over the house.

  • My mother's love of photography

  • propelled her to the most remote regions of the earth,

  • and my family and I were fortunate enough

  • to join and support her on these adventures.

  • We rode camels in Northern Africa

  • and mushed on dog sleds near the North Pole.

  • In August of 2012, I led my first expedition,

  • taking a group of artists and scholars up the northwest coast of Greenland.

  • My mother was originally supposed to lead this trip.

  • She and I were in the early stages of planning,

  • as we had intended to go together,

  • when she fell victim to a brain tumor.

  • The cancer quickly took over her body and mind,

  • and she passed away six months later.

  • During the months of her illness, though,

  • her dedication to the expedition never wavered, and I made a promise

  • to carry out her final journey.

  • My mother's passion for the Arctic

  • echoed through my experience in Greenland,

  • and I felt the power

  • and the fragility of the landscape.

  • The sheer size of the icebergs

  • is humbling.

  • The ice fields are alive with movement and sound

  • in a way that I never expected.

  • I expanded the scale of my compositions

  • to give you that same sense of awe that I experienced.

  • Yet, while the grandeur of the ice is evident,

  • so, too, is its vulnerability.

  • From our boat,

  • I could see the ice sweating under the unseasonably warm sun.

  • We had a chance to visit many of the Inuit communities in Greenland

  • that now face huge challenges.

  • The locals spoke to me of vast areas of sea ice

  • that are no longer freezing over as they once did.

  • And without ice, their hunting and harvesting grounds

  • are severely diminished,

  • threatening their way of life and survival.

  • The melting glaciers in Greenland

  • are one of the largest contributing factors to rising sea levels,

  • which have already begun to drown

  • some of our world's lowest-lying islands.

  • One year after my trip to Greenland, I visited the Maldives,

  • the lowest and flattest country in the entire world.

  • While I was there, I collected images and inspiration

  • for a new body of work:

  • drawings of waves lapping on the coast of a nation

  • that could be entirely underwater within this century.

  • Devastating events happen every day

  • on scales both global and personal.

  • When I was in Greenland,

  • I scattered my mother's ashes amidst the melting ice.

  • Now she remains a part of the landscape she loved so much,

  • even as it, too, passes and takes on new form.

  • Among the many gifts my mother gave me

  • was the ability to focus on the positive,

  • rather than the negative.

  • My drawings celebrate the beauty of what we all stand to lose.

  • I hope they can serve as records of sublime landscapes in flux,

  • documenting the transition and inspiring our global community

  • to take action for the future.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

I consider it my life's mission

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B1 INT TED greenland arctic mother landscape maldives

【TED】Zaria Forman: Drawings that show the beauty and fragility of Earth (Drawings that show the beauty and fragility of Earth | Zaria Forman)

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