Portraits of Climate Change
When thinking about the climate crisis, headlines of rising sea
levels, California wildfires, displaced island natives, oceans full of plastic,
and melting glaciers rush through my mind. It is often an intangible, faceless,
and distant threat, looming around the obscure two-degree Celsius
corner. A few holidays ago, I told my family that I was not planning to have
children, not solely because of climate change, but primarily. My father, a climate denier, will not have
grandchildren from me. My nieces and nephews will not have cousins. Telling my
family of this decision was the first tangible effect of climate change that
many of them have experienced personally.
Pro.Creation is a photographic study of whether or not climate change is
affecting my generation’s decision to have children. This is a complex,
layered, emotional, and deeply personal decision, with or without climate
change. The aim of this project is not to condemn or even nudge towards a
“correct” decision; instead, it is to give a visual voice to contemporary
conversations. More precisely, considerations that the human population has
never been faced with before.
For each portrait taken, conversations have been paramount,
sitting with each family, couple, or individual and asking them about their
process and asking subjects to write down something that represents their
thought process. It can be coded, representing something personal that only
they understand, it can be a snippet or summary, or a long-form letter. For example, to correspond with my
self-portrait, I wrote "polar bears" on a concrete floor. When I
first considered not having children and instead focus my time and resources on
being a good aunt, I was reading a book to my niece about… polar bears.
Terry Tempest Williams, an important influence, writes
considerably about how we can choose to procreate in many forms other than
rearing children. We can (pro)create and cultivate community, stewardship, and
movements. We can build conscious families who step bravely into action and
hope. As we enter the Anthropocene, whether we decide to have children or not,
we must consider our impact and legacy. What will we nurture in this world? And
what will we leave behind?