Conceptual artist Hannah Rothstein isn’t particularly pessimistic, but when it comes to the future of our planet she’s worried. That’s what prompted her to recreate iconic National Park Service posters as the parks could look in 2050.
“I’m worried about where we might be headed if we don’t take responsiblity for our actions and enact positive change,” she said in a phone call Thursday from Berkeley, California, where she’s based.
Rothstein, 31, finished the digital remakes of the WPA-era posters in March in time for Earth Day and the March for Science last week. She even gave a portion of online sales to orgniazations like the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Once again her posters are here just in time for the People’s Climate March on Saturday. You can download one of the prints that assures “Climate Change is Real” to carry at the march and pay whatever you want for it.
To create a vision of what 2050 would look like at famous American outdoor spaces like Yellowstone, Crater Lake and Mount McKinley, Rothstein hit the books. She researched how each location would be impacted by global warming. Instead of a list of each park’s wonders and sights as seen on the original posters, Rothstein detailed the stark realities of “starving grizzlies” and “snowless peaks.”
For a place like Yellowstone she quickly discovered that reduced snow melt would keep geysers, like Old Faithful, from erupting, which she depicts in the barren Yellowstone scene. Other impacts, like a parched Colorado River, would directly affect people who depend on the river as a water and food source. (Check out all her posters on her website.)
“Climate changes feels very far off,” Rothstein said. “It’s easy to brush it off.”
That’s why she researched a date, 2050, in the not-too-distant future.
“I love the parks,” she said. She’s heading to Glacier National Park this summer and has spent a lot of time in Yosemite and the Redwoods.
Next up for Rothstein are hand-painted versions of the prints, as part of an ongoing effort to keep the series fresh and spread the word about climate change.
“One of the problems with climate change is it’s just numbers and graphs,” she said.
With these posters and paintings she’s looking for an emotional impact and a way to show that environmental destruction doesn’t care if a park is in a red state or blue state.
“This is not a partisan issue,” she said. “It’s going to affect us all.”