NRDC Partners with Art at a Time Like This at EXPO CHICAGO to Highlight the Power of Women & Artists as Climate Advocates

HOW ON EARTH will be accompanied by a series of free, public programming highlighting local Chicago artists grappling with environmental issues in their own practices.

By: Mar. 31, 2023
NRDC Partners with Art at a Time Like This at EXPO CHICAGO to Highlight the Power of Women & Artists as Climate Advocates

For the 10th anniversary of EXPO CHICAGO, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) has partnered with Art at a Time Like This (ATLT) to create HOW ON EARTH, a climate-focused exhibit from acclaimed artists Janet Biggs, Lily Kwong, Helina Metaferia and Jennifer Wen Ma. The exhibit, spanning a variety of mediums, will showcase the power of artists who are inspiring hope and action in their artwork to address the climate crisis, and spotlight the disproportionate burden climate impacts have on women. HOW ON EARTH will be accompanied by a series of free, public programming highlighting local Chicago artists grappling with environmental issues in their own practices.

"As we celebrate 10 years of EXPO CHICAGO and serving as one of its original special exhibition partners, we wanted an opportunity to celebrate the transformational power artists play in the climate movement," said Elizabeth Corr, Associate Director of Arts and Cultural Partnerships at NRDC. "Each of our featured artists has a unique approach to driving social change through their work-mirroring how each of us can support climate justice."

Through this curatorial partnership with ATLT, the exhibit will transform the common dystopian portrayal of the climate crisis-centering women's perspectives and art as a key driver of action and hope.

"If we want to move forward in addressing and solving issues regarding environmental justice, we need great artists who are ahead of the current thinking," said Anne Verhallen, Co-Founder of ATLT. "Collaborating with advocates as well respected as NRDC helps us bring artists to the forefront of the national conversation on climate change."

"We are embattled in an existential fight against climate collapse, and my home state of California is quite literally on fire," said Kwong, whose installation MOTHERFIRE will display 55 Shou Sugi Ban posts, representing devastated forests and sprouting regenerative plants. "My commitment to serve the environment through artistic expression, explore a spiritual connection to nature and share the wisdom of plant life only deepens as our mighty forests fight for their lives."

In addition to the in-booth exhibit, Ma will also create a large-scale, interactive tidal wave installation using traditional Chinese paper cutting techniques. The changing condition of decay of the paper over the course of the fair underscores the dire situation of the environment that hangs in the balance. The installation, located at the entrance to the fair, will serve as the backdrop for EXPO CHICAGO's live events and performances spotlighting local talent.

"Art plays an important role in affecting social change by challenging the viewer to learn about an issue and hopefully inspire them to participate in action," said Tony Karman, President and Director of EXPO CHICAGO. "We are deeply proud of our legacy of collaboration with NRDC as thousands of patrons continue to experience the evolving interconnectedness between art and the climate movement."

To learn more, visit NRDC and ATLT at booth 132 in Navy Pier's Festival Hall from April 13 to 16 and attend our programming the 21c Museum Hotel. Full programming schedule and registration details available here.

Collaborating Artists and Work

  • Janet Biggs (New York City) is a research-based, interdisciplinary artist known for her immersive pieces in video, film and performance. Biggs' work focuses on individuals in extreme landscapes or situations, navigating the territory between art, science and technology. Biggs' harrowing video, Weighing Life Without a Scale, 2018, which emphasizes the importance of acting upon climate change, contrasts migration taking place at a refugee camp in Djibouti with high tech plans for escape to Mars.

  • Lily Kwong (Los Angeles) works at the intersection of horticulture, urban design, contemporary art, fashion and wellness-focusing on reconnecting people to nature through transformative landscape projects and botanical art installations. Kwong's MOTHERFIRE features 55 Shou Sugi Ban posts with saplings inspired by regrowth at the site of the August Complex Fire of 2020, California's largest forest fire.

  • Helina Metaferia (New York City) is an interdisciplinary artist working across collage, assemblage, video, performance and social engagement. Her work integrates archives, somatic studies, and dialogical practices to elevate overlooked narratives from marginalized groups. In Metafaria's Headdress 55 and Headress 56, a pair of crowned heroines represent the power of women to enact change.

  • Jennifer Wen Ma (Beijing, New York City) is a visual artist whose interdisciplinary practice bridges media such as installation, drawing, video, public art, design and performance. Ma's piece, Turn of the Tide, highlights ocean pollution and the threat of sea level rise due to climate change.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Art At A Time Like This (ATLT) is a 501c3 not-for-profit arts organization that serves artists and curators responding to current events and pressing issues of the 21st century. Now, celebrating its third year in operation, ATLT has provided a platform for artists caught in crisis, from Mexico, India, Hong Kong, Afghanistan, Ukraine and the U.S. mass incarceration system, elevating local concerns to a global platform. Our mission is to present artists and curators as thought leaders, envisioning our world in ways surpassing the imagination of politicians.

EXPO CHICAGO, The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art features leading international galleries alongside a leading platform for contemporary art and cultural programming. Hosted within historic Navy Pier's Festival Hall, EXPO CHICAGO presents a diverse and inventive program, including /Dialogues (presented in partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and Exchange by Northern Trust: An Interactive Conversation Around the Art of Collecting, unrivaled programs for both public and VIP audiences; IN/SITU, dynamic on-site installations highlighting large-scale sculpture, film, and site-specific work; and major public art initiatives, including IN/SITU Outside, with works installed throughout Chicago Park District locations, and OVERRIDE | A Billboard Project, a curated selection of International Artists throughout the city's digital billboard network. The EXPO CHICAGO program also features an unprecedented commitment to host curatorial initiatives during the exposition, including the Curatorial Forum in partnership with Independent Curators International (ICI), and the Curatorial Exchange, which partners with foreign agencies and consulates to expand the exposition's global reach.

EXPO CHICAGO is presented by Art Expositions, LLC. Under the leadership of President and Director Tony Karman, EXPO CHICAGO draws upon the city's rich history as a vibrant international cultural destination, while highlighting the region's contemporary arts community and inspiring its collector base. For more information on EXPO CHICAGO visit


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