It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words – and for artist Chris Jordan’s work, the cliché holds true.

From far away, one of his images looks like an impressionist painting. But the colored dots are not brushstrokes: they’re the pictures of two million plastic bottles — the number thrown away in the U.S. every five minutes, according to the plastic pollution coalition. Close up, you can see each discarded bottle in detail.

Kirn: “And when you see that, it’s just the most amazing thing. It’s kind of like this place where you lose words in a way because it reaches you so deeply and so emotionally. And you can see, oh that’s my plastic water bottle.”

That’s Marda Kirn, Executive Director and founder of EcoArts Connections — an organization that brings together art and science to inspire people to live more sustainably. The group is driven by the concept that people take action when both their minds and hearts are engaged.

Kirn: “The arts are really, really powerful. And I think that when scientists, engineers and other folks can better appreciate what that power is and can collaborate with the arts, I think you’re going to see a much quicker shift.”

Scientists and artists working together can transform our understanding of ourselves, and our relationship to the earth.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Marda Kirn (Source: UCAR)

More Resources
When Logic Isn’t Enough, 2013 speech in Australia by Marda Kirn
When nature calls: 12 artists answering back to climate change — in pictures

Bud Ward

Bud Ward was editor of Yale Climate Connections from 2007-2022. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as assistant director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission...