This Artist is Raising Environmental Awareness All Across New York

Colleen Curry, Galerie Magazine, September 10, 2018

If you’re in the mood for a scavenger hunt, then you’re in luck. Interdisciplinary artist Justin Brice Guariglia has teamed up with New York’s Climate Museum and the Mayor’s Office Climate Policy and Programs team to stage 10 installations across New York that resemble ordinary highway signals, but bear poignant—if strangely humorous—ecologically-minded messages.


Titled “Climate Signals” and scattered throughout the five boroughs, the series of solar-powered signs, which display warnings such as “CLIMATE DENIAL KILLS” and other similar sentiments, can be found in public parks. The installations reach as far north as Harlem and Hunts Point, west to Snug Harbor, and southeast to Rockaway Park, with plenty scattered in-between. Everywhere, Guariglia, whose recent work has focused largely on global warming, hopes that these new public installations will spark discussion about climate change.


(Recommended: Justin Brice Guariglia’s Powerful Photos of Melting Glaciers)


Guariglia’s career has seen many collaborations with scientists, philosophers, and journalists to tackle the tough ecological topics of the day. A former photojournalist whose work has been featured in the New York Times and National Geographic, Guariglia has recently traveled with NASA to document rapidly melting polar icecaps. He also helped to design a smartphone selfie app that displays how high sea levels are projected to rise in relation to where the selfie-taker is standing. The data is based on the most recent predictions by NASA scientists.


His research into rising sea levels has made Guariglia especially concerned for New York City, which boasts 578 miles of shoreline. Many of his “Climate Signals” billboards are located in neighborhoods near the water and also flash translations in locally prominent languages, like Spanish or Chinese.


In this sense, the signs manifest more than just a sense of foreboding surrounding the implications of the changing environment; they also embed themselves in the richly diverse culture of New York, and all that stands to be lost if icecaps continue to melt.


For those hoping to see the signs, the Climate Museum has added a layer of adventure to the citywide exhibition. By snapping selfies at all ten locations—which the museum has kindly marked on a map—and tagging @climatemuseum on Instagram, you can win Climate Museum and ‘Climate Signals’ merchandise.