This small exhibit off the Field’s main lobby is easy to walk past. “Melting Ice” occupies a sparse two-room alcove, darkly lit with the muted, cool tones of the arctic tundra. It’s a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” set-up, which is unfortunate, given the project’s big, world-changing aspirations. Organized as part of the “Art of the Environment” initiative by the Natural World Museum and the United Nations Environment Program, the exhibit consists of twenty-three pieces from an international cast of artists. Using modern sculpture, video installation, choreography and frank point-and-click photography, the exhibit documents the effects of climate change. Subject matter focuses on the arctic: endangered penguins in Antarctica, Alaskan villages cobbled away by a rising sea, fresh water depletion and collapsing icebergs. Here and there are odd men out, such as Free Range Studios contribution: an idealistic, fictional documentary from fifty years in the future in which massive protests, bio-fuel and a laughable “Obama-McCain” ticket change the course of human history. Saturating the vibe of the entire exhibit is a driving urgency to fire up visitor’s attitudes about global warming. This is art-meets-environmental activism, and one can’t help but leave feeling invigorated with a renewed desire for change. (Laura Hawbaker)
Melting Ice runs at the Field Museum, 1400 South Lake Shore, through September 1.