Best of 2023

Art Tells a Deeper Story

by | Dec 28, 2023

The ways people and communities are preparing for and adapting to a changing planet are often complicated and nuanced, making it difficult to fully convey their stories through words alone. But where our prose may fall short, art speaks volumes. As 2023 draws to a close, KneeDeep daylights five stories from this year in which we commissioned or celebrated original art in a variety of formats, adding another layer of experience for our readers. 

1. The Case for Climate Castles

As climate change throws more extreme events at us, and as we continue clinging to the comforts of oil and gas despite a warming world, isn’t it time to think bigger, bolder, and further ahead? Whether it’s Hogwarts or Winterfell or the Louvre Pyramid or Coit Tower, the idea of castles is inspiring, especially if built to be climate resilient. KneeDeep invited six architecture students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to dream up car-less, energy- and water-efficient, futuristic designs to house both permanent residents and the displaced in a smaller carbon footprint. Art: Ben Hoffman

Segura at bus shelter on Crenshaw Boulevard with graphics from her heat relief campaign. Photo: Marta Segura.

2. Picture Winter on Coyote Creek

As an environmental science student and a nature photographer, I love spending time outdoors with my camera. Last fall, I photographed California’s drought, and I wanted to look further at water in the San Francisco Bay Area. I chose to explore the Coyote Creek Watershed in Santa Clara County for its extensive natural areas and Valley Water’s comprehensive plan for its protection and restoration. Photo: Megan King

The State Lands Commission’s Jennifer Lucchesi (left) with colleague Sheri Pemberton (middle) and former CA State Controller Chair Betty Yee (right) on a federal offshore oil platform in 2022.

3. Humanity on the Fence

A new public art installation, called Fencelines, redefines the only barrier separating Richmond’s residential neighborhoods from the Chevron oil refinery: a wire fence. This April, photographer Lonny Meyer attended Spring Family Day to document how a community coming together for a day of art, positivity, and love can also be an act of resilience against environmental injustice. (The art has since been removed by the refinery.) Photo: Lonny Meyer

Photo: Kate Raphael.

4. The Lost Birds, A Review

In the San Francisco Bay Area, springtime brings thousands of migratory birds and their songs. But this magnificent chorus occurs in the background of rapidly declining biodiversity. The loss of avian diversity inspired The Lost Birds, the latest work by composer Christopher Tin, who is best known for scoring video games and movies. His choral piece Baba Yetu was the first song written for a video game to win a Grammy Award. Tin’s work is often buoyant, grandiose, and even cartoonish. The Lost Birds is a tribute to extinct animals, a conversation with poets from the 19th century, and reflection about the future of the ecosystems we enjoy today.

Album cover; snowy plover courtesy National Park Service.

5. Radio Tale of a Submerged City

On a soft, foggy San Francisco morning, Soraya Broussard wakes up, stretches, and smiles as she looks out from her hilltop near Land’s End over the calm ocean water covering Golden Gate Park. At the Duboce Triangle, which is now a beach, the Tsongas family begins their day as we hear the town gossip about them. These are scenes from a locally-produced radio play that takes place in a world where the sea level has risen 200 feet and turned San Francisco’s hills into an archipelago of islands. Map: SF Archipelago

San Francisco’s hills left as islands after 200 feet of sea level rise, adapted from the San Francisco Archipelago Map (2012).
Beyond the front-lawn with Benicia’s Greyhawk Grove. Photo: Aleta George.

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