Richmond students share climate fears through 'powerful' artwork

In a powerful series of drawings, Steveston-London Secondary students share their fears and concerns about the state of the planet as the effects of climate change grow.

The project — completed by Steveston-London’s grade nine, 11 and 12 students — was conceived of by art teacher Sid Akselrod as part of a week of global events calling for action on climate change, with a strikes set to take place around the world on Sept. 27, including in Richmond.   

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The students, said Akselrod, are well-aware of climate change and are “quite fearful” for their futures. But he was surprised by the drawings and messages that the students produced.

“What really got to me is how they were so concise. They’re so precise, they’re skillful and sophisticated in their messages. I think those works speak for themselves,” said Akselrod.

What the students produced is a series of moving, impactful and personal images that showcase the effects of climate change on all aspects of life, and their fears for the planet.

Some drawings depict large amounts of waste and garbage, a planet humanity is forced to leave behind, and the dwindling habitats of wild animals.

One drawing is addressed, “To whom it doesn’t concern,” while another reads, “To you, 10 years from now.” Others are addressed to the government; to humanity; to parents; and to businesses and factories.

“I think there’s a lot of discussion and a lot of worry and a lot of tension,” said Akselrod. “And (the students) are just going about their business, and it doesn’t really come out too much. And then when you interact with them and talk about stuff, it comes out in such a powerful way.”

Akselrod provided each student with a template, which contained a blank rectangle in the middle of the page — which the students would fill with their designs — and a salutation (‘dear’) and signature (‘from’) line. The students could choose who was receiving the drawing and who was sending it.

After a class discussion about the projects and climate change, the students began to work.

“You could hear a pin drop during the discussion,” said Akselrod. “And during the class. It was really quite unlike (them). Usually they are boisterous, social, but they got right down to (work).”

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