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Ten Artists Taking On #FridaysForFuture
Some arty inspo for you to make some waves in the movement yourself
Art Stuff 21 Oct 2019

In August 2018, a plucky Swedish schoolgirl named Greta Thunberg launched #FridaysforFuture, a global activism movement. The story began with one simple choice: to skip school one Friday. But unlike your typical fifteen-year-old, Thunberg wasn’t dreaming of a Ferris Bueller-style heist, or even angling to extend her weekend. No, Thunberg is a truant with a mission, and a noble one at that — fighting climate change!
In the year since Thunberg first began camping out in front of the Swedish Parliament, the Fridays for Future movement has snowballed. After going viral on social media, it spread to cities around the globe. Meanwhile, Thunberg has become an activist celebrity, much like Emma Gonzalez became the poster child for the gun violence movement. In September, Thunberg addressed world leaders at the U.N. climate talks in New York, denouncing them for stealing her dreams and childhood with their “empty words.”


“The modern knight. Huge portrait of one of the biggest heroes of our time in Dortmund.”

As schoolchildren and activists around the world channel Thunberg and turn up the heat on political leaders, artists have been quick to throw their own shade. Climate-themed art is no new concept, but #Fridaysforfuture lends the trend a new urgency and a heightened need for real-life application. While some artists continue to explore climate catastrophe from a purely theoretical stance, others create artworks that double as protest signs or memes, activist arguments encoded as a visual shorthand. These images convey powerful ideas in bite-sized doses that even a goldfish scrolling though IG could grasp.
From budding artists to those in full bloom, we rounded up ten creative activists putting their own stamp on Fridays for Future. We hope these pictures will inspire you to make some waves in the movement yourself—especially if skipping work on a Friday is involved!
1) David Stenbeck

This self-proclaimed “spiritual misleader” recently spoke out in solidarity of his Swedish compatriot, Greta Thunberg. The caption of this surreal new photograph reads, “This one is for Greta and #fridaysforfuture.”
The liquid cotton candy cloud dangles dangerously close to the pristine surface of the water, capturing the eerie quiet of everyday life in our times. Our civilization is hanging by a thread, yet very little in of quotidian routines actually reflect that precarity. Stenbeck’s color scheme brings to mind the smog-filled skie of Los Angeles, a mystical dreamland colored by dangerous photochemical exhaust. It’s no accident that the city provides the backdrop for many post-climate apocalypse dystopias, like the original Blade Runner.
2) Quinn Curnow

Meanwhile, in Portland, Oregon, “art witch” and “nonconformist” Quinn Curnow has a more figurative take on Fridays for Future. Using glitter, rhinestone and glow-in-the-dark paint, Curnow made this very meta selfie painting, a meditation on modern life on this planet.
In the background, a river of plastic bottles streams into the cosmic abyss. Meanwhile, the subject stares vacantly into space, her dull gaze fixed somewhere between her third eye and her phone screen. In case the message wasn’t clear enough, the caption tells all: “I love the feeling of hurtling towards the violent extinction of all life on Earth–as long as I look hot.” While the more-is-more aesthetic captures your attention, the uncomfortable meaning is sure to hold it.
3) Pauline Hoyer

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#fridaysforfuture ????????

A post shared by Pauline Hoyer ૐ (@paulinehoyer) on

Speaking of climate anxiety—or screaming about it into the void, more likely—Pauline Hoyer offers up a modern take on a classic that doesn’t need much explaining. If Munch thought the world was a scary place in 1893, he should take a peek into our reality. But he’d probably need a hazmat mask.
4) Jennifer Murck

If life on Planet Earth is a dance of dualities—light and dark, day and night, hot and cold, and ultimately, life and death—climate change pushes each binary to its extreme. In this spirit, Jennifer Murck’s abstract landscapes certainly capture the chaotic beauty of it all. Her latest, “As The Thunderstorm Drifts Off to Sea,” juxtaposes the “fear of natural disasters and destruction as our planet warms in contrast with the beauty and grace of the Earth.”
From ancient times, activists emphasize the beauty and majesty of the Earth as a core argument for its protection. In the same spirit, Murck follows in the Romantic tradition of depicting beauty and danger commingling to create the Sublime.
5) Tony Futura

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world wide waste #tonyfutura

A post shared by Tony Futura (@tonyfutura) on

On the other hand, Tony Futura isn’t afraid to cut the complexity to get to the core of the message—pun intended. But, unlike the ’60s Pop artists whose work he draws on, his designs often have a moral message packaged in with the bright, saturated colors. In this case, the picture might be simple, but the concept contains many layers. An apple to symbolize Earth as the pristine, untouched Garden of Eden, devoured by greed in a tragedy of the commons; a red background signalling alarm, bloodshed and danger. All that in a deceptively cute picture.
6) Elobina

Sustainable textile designer Elobina urges us to take part in the climate strike in any way we can with this Arctic-themed design. The pattern is pretty; no doubt about that, but its subject rings alarm bells. But like Futura’s piece, it captures the uncertainty, fear and isolation our societies are experiencing.
At risk of reading a little too deep into a pillow pattern, we could even take this Swedish artist’s work as an allegory for the world political situation. Like these helpless polar bears, our leaders float on their own respective islands, literally and figuratively, unable to bridge the physical and psychic gaps to find a unified solution. On the other hand, we have more tools for connection than ever before. Let’s hope that, unlike these polar bears, we’ll be able to find global solutions to global problems.
7) Valentina Figueroa

Art, design and activism all meet in a groovy, three-way tango in this “Sixties idealist Caribbean child’s” work. While all of Figueroa’s posted work contains some pretty obvious eco-feminist overtones, this posted is her most explicit example of artivism (art + activism). In aesthetically pleasing pink and green tones, Figueroa reminds us that honoring Mother Earth means fighting for systemic change, not just frolicking through fields of wildflowers. Although that’s encouraged, too.
8) Harley Weir

An exhibition called “A Time for New Dreams” seems oddly timed in a world that often feels nightmarish, at least if you watch the news. And yet, Serpentine Gallery reminds us that a nightmare is just a dream by another name. If the two lie on opposite ends of our pendulum of reality, we often forget that the shortest way between the two extremes involves a flip—a brief loss of gravity, a willingness to suspend the weight of our normal perspectives. And Harley Weir’s photography is certainly known for doing just that.
9) Mary Wood

Responding to climate change with washed-out watercolor landscapes, British artist Mary Wood dives deep into abstraction to render the fragility of nature. Her pictures speak softly but clearly about the need to protect our lovely, ethereal world. One breath, one misstep, is enough to send us over the edge, they seem to whisper.
10) Erin Summer

Another fellow color lover, art director and content creator Erin Summer has the perfect name for her aesthetic. Her feed feels like a permanent vacation into an Easter egg colony where time stopped in late April. Though she doesn’t explicitly shout out Fridays for Future, her entire account sings an ode to Mother Nature. With a playful spirit and a pinch of surrealism, each post reminds us of the world’s magic. If sPUGhetti for two doesn’t convince you to save the planet, we might be fighting a losing battle.
Text by Katya Lopatko
Image via @sid_new_kid.

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