2021 Wendy Michener Memorial Lecture explores art and design in climate justice

glass planet in a forest with sunshine

On March 29, the 2021 Wendy Michener Memorial Lecture will feature a dynamic group of artist-scholars from different international sites (Canada, New Zealand and the U.K.) for an engaging discussion that explores the role of art and design in climate justice.

This online event takes place from 2:30 to 4:15 p.m. and is co-presented by York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD), Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts & Technology, Institute for Research on Digital Literacies (IRDL), CITY Institute, and Glendon Communications Program.

During the lecture, titled “Art, Design, and Climate Justice,” presenters Huhana Smith, Rachel Hann and Ian Garrett will reflect on the vital role that artists can play in designing for climate, urban and environmental justice. This will be the first event in the 2021 Design Justice Speaker Series, which explores how design can challenge social inequities, empower marginalized communities, and engage in worldbuilding that supports cultural and ecological survival.

Huhana Smith
Huhana Smith. Photo: Massey University

Smith is an associate professor at New Zealand’s Massey University, visual artist and curator who engages in major environmental, trans-disciplinary, kaupapa Māori, and action-research projects. She is co-principal investigator for research, which includes mātauranga Māori methods with sciences to actively address climate change concerns for coastal Māori lands in Horowhenua-Kāpiti. She is currently undertaking Phase 3 of Deep South National Science Challenge funding from the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment, Wellington, New Zealand with additional funding that began in 2015. Smith and co-collaborators actively encourage the use of art and design’s visual systems, combined in exhibitions, to expand how solutions might integrate complex issues and make solutions more accessible for local communities.

Rachel Hann
Rachel Hann. Photo: Northumbria University

Hann is a cultural scenographer and Senior Lecturer in Performance and Design based at Northumbria University, Newcastle, U.K. Her research is focused on the material cultures of scenography, climate crisis, and trans performance. Hann is author of Beyond Scenography (Routledge, 2019), which was shortlisted for the Prague Quadrennial 2019 Publication Prize. Her next book, provisionally titled Enacting Worlds: Climate Crisis Scenographics, investigates the social, political, and cultural staging of ‘world feelings.’ Rachel also collaborates with the Design Studio for Social Intervention (Boston, U.S.), including a short article on “Justice Scenographics: Civilization change in a time of Anywheres and Somewheres.”

Ian Garrett
Ian Garrett

Garrett is a designer, producer, educator and researcher in the field of sustainability in arts and culture. He is the director of the Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts; associate professor of Ecological Design for Performance at York University, and producer for Toasterlab, a mixed reality performance collective. He maintains a design practice focused on ecology, technology and scenography. With Chantal Bilodeau, he co-directs the Climate Change Theatre Action. His writing includes “Arts, the Environment, and Sustainability for Americans for the Arts,” “The Carbon Footprint of Theatrical Production in Readings in Performance and Ecology,” and “Theatre is No Place for a Plant” for the Ashden Directory.

The Wendy Michener Lecture, named in commemoration of the Canadian arts critic and journalist, was established at York University in 1986 to provide a forum for discussion of vital issues and developments in culture and the arts. Some of the past presenters of the lecture include journalist Anna Maria Tremonti, artist Matthew Ritchie, and creative industries executive Hael Kobayashi.

Register for the lecture here.