What Can Tarot Cards Teach Us About Climate Change?
Contemporary art piece asks participants to contemplate nature and the future of the planet
cards

Photo credit: Wendy Whitesell

Can the ancient cultural practice of divination help us face an uncertain future under climate change? One artist believes so.

It can be hard to face a future we fear. Divination has been used by cultures throughout the world to help people navigate difficult futures. Artist James Leonard has adapted Tarot cards to help others process what he calls “overwhelming climate anxiety.” This summer he’s traveling the country, making one-day stops to give climate change divinatory readings inside a special, hand-sewn tent.

At each stop, Leonard spends the day inside his tent, offering free, private climate change readings. Everyone is invited. Readings last approximately 15 minutes each and are given on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Leonard

Photo credit: Catherine Nolan

Artist James Leonard is traveling the country this summer, using Tarot readings to inspire intimate conversations about the impacts of climate change.

Leonard calls his artwork The Tent of Casually Observed Phenologies. From the outside, the tent looks like a cross between a post-apocalyptic wigwam and a children’s blanket fort. The rainbow interior is made out of brightly colored recycled clothing. It required over 500 hours of hand sewing to complete. Detailed tea-colored ink paintings of different plant and animal species—each reportedly affected by climate change—are pinned to the outside.

Leonard explains, “A lot of thought has gone into The Tent of Casually Observed Phenologies. I wanted to create a space for contemplation, where participants can slow down, articulate questions and find clarity. Climate change is a universal concern. Art is the perfect place for expressing and evaluating concern.”

James Leonard is an internationally exhibited artist. He recently finished a 2016 artist residency at MASS MoCA. In 2015, he was artist-in-residence at the Boston Center for the Arts. When not on the road, he lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

reading

Photo credit: Melissa Blackall

The Tent of Casually Observed Phenologies creates a space for visitors to contemplate climate change.

"A lot of thought has gone into The Tent of Casually Observed Phenologies.
I wanted to create a space for contemplation, where participants can slow down, articulate questions and find clarity.
Climate change is a universal concern.
Art is the perfect place for expressing and evaluating concern.”

 


 
Want to know more about this project? Asking, “Why divination?” Watch this short documentary created by friends at Harvard University for the PredictionX series with astrophysicist, Dr. Alyssa Goodman.

 

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