Extinction: Thinking local, acting global

By |2018-08-31T16:27:45+00:00October 26th, 2016|Art, Extinction, Species|0 Comments

Synchronicity Earth friend and fellow species-lover, Louis Masai, is currently painting his way across the USA drawing attention to the extinction crisis with his Art of Beeing tour. He also dropped into the Bioneers conference in San Rafael, California, spoke at a session entitled ‘Visual art and social action,’ presented two short films – made in conjunction with Synchronicity Earth – and ran a hands-on workshop creating ‘bee hotels’ and wild seed balls!

In common with Synchronicity Earth, whether it’s a coral reef or a Cottontail rabbit, at the heart of Louis’ work is a desire to protect and restore nature’s diversity where it is threatened or has been lost.

Extinction is often seen as something happening somewhere else, in tropical rainforests or coral reefs, rather than on our own doorstep.

Louis wants to bring the extinction crisis into sharper focus. The world is losing unique species and habitats at a rate unprecedented in human history. Diversity is being replaced by uniformity. The variety of animals, plants and fungi – and the connections between them that make up the earth’s ecosystems – is facing a multitude of threats. Earth’s diversity, and the species interactions that support ecosystem functions, is fading, due to local and global pressures – ranging from deforestation through to climate change.

Raising awareness of the ‘not just global, but local’ nature of the extinction crisis, Louis’ tour will take in 12 cities; he will paint around 20 murals, each one depicting a species under threat in the US. Much of the biodiversity in OECD countries has already been lost. In fact, the UK and US both rank very low in terms of their ability to maintain their own biodiversity intact, according to the 2016 State of Nature Report:

Louis’ work is intended to remind us that we are all connected to and nurtured by the earth’s biodiversity and we can all play a part in protecting it. His latest paintings depict some of the most vulnerable US species as toys, because “if we don’t act now to stop extinction, only toys will remain.”

From top left, clockwise: Gray WolfBog TurtleNew England Cottontail Rabbit and Bees, for their critical role as pollinators across ecosystems. Art of Beeing.

The Art of Beeing isn’t the first time Louis has painted endangered species. Back in 2014, he painted a series of murals depicting endangered UK species on walls across the capital. A film capturing our joint This is Now projectshows how people reacted to his paintings: the appearance of a beautiful species in an unexpected place at an unexpected time can stop people in their tracks, giving them pause for thought.

This is Now: 56% of UK species have declined since 1970 (State of Nature Report, 2016).

Then, in 2015, the focus shifted to coral reefs. The giant mural below began to appear on a building in east London. Not a locally-endangered species this time. In fact, the protagonist of this piece couldn’t be further from the nature on our doorsteps.

Louis’ giant coral reef mural begged the question: Why should we, living in an urban metropolis, care about the fate of a distant coral reef on the other side of the world? What are corals anyway? Plants? Rock? Who cares?

A coral reef comes to life in the heart of London.