Cupcakes
(Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Jensen Photography)

In December, a new window display popped up in a Chicago storefront. At first glance, it looks like a new bakery. But when people look closer, they read signs promising cakes made with cricket flour. And each cupcake has a cicada on top.

“People have an actual visual cue of, ‘Oh! That’s something that’s kind of weird!’ And then they are drawn into it and read more about what is actually going on there,” says artist Katelyn Patton.

The bakery is one of three fake storefronts that Patton and Beth Reinke, an ecologist at Northeastern Illinois University, designed to get people thinking about climate change.

Rather than focus on doom and gloom, the team decided to provoke people’s curiosity with their art installations.

Global warming threatens to disrupt food production, so Patton and Reinke imagined a future when alternate ingredients such as insect-based protein and flours are mainstream. These products already exist, so it’s not a far-fetched idea.

“That was really important to both of us, that all of these things had to be more realistic than fantastical,” Reinke says.

So although the imaginary storefronts are whimsical, they’re designed to encourage more people to engage with the serious consequences of global warming.

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Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Arts & Culture, Policy & Politics