The Portland Museum of Art on Friday announced six winners of the new Tidal Shift Award, created to recognize teens and young adults exploring climate change through their art.
About 70 artists from all over New England submitted works, including sculpture, illustration, fashion design, metalsmithing and music, the museum said. Four of the six winners are from Maine. Besides being recognized by the museum for their work, the winners in the 19-22 age group each get a $5,000 cash prize, while the winners in the 14-18 age division get $2,500.
The awards were created as a collaboration between the museum and The Climate Initiative, a Kennebunkport-based organization focused on educating and empowering youth as they work toward climate change solutions. In describing the award on the PMA’s website, the two organizations said they “believe art’s ability to inspire social change can be harnessed to fight climate change.”
Winners in the younger age category included Ellie Bouman of Freeport, Benjamin Pochurek of Freeport and Hannah Slone of Kennebunkport. Bouman’s work, “The Colorless Sea,” is a watercolor and pencil depiction of an underwater scene without colorful coral reefs. The only color to be found on the ocean floor in the work is from a book that has been lost at sea.
“The message of this piece is that if drastic action is not taken quickly, most coral reefs will die off and healthy, colorful corals will only be found in books and photographs,” Bouman wrote in the artist’s statement. “The book also represents education, because people are most likely to take action against climate change if they are educated on the subject.”
Pochurek’s work, “Flora Lung,” is a sculpture of a loan figure sitting in some future wasteland wearing elaborate gear designed to help people survive in a world with no trees and no fresh air. Materials include oak, cedar, pine, metal, washers, bolts, wire, plastic tubing, air plants and rocks.
“My sculpture is inspired by early diving gear, ‘Aqua Lung.’ Just as humans developed technology to survive underwater, this futurist figure has been forced to invent new technology, Flora Lung to survive on land,” Pochurek wrote about the work.
Slone’s work, “A Dress Made from Waste,” is a dress made from plastic shipping and storage materials over one month at the store where Slone worked. The skirt of the dress is made of plastic held together with grommets and sashes. By pulling the sash, the packing materials fall from the dress, “littering the floor with plastic,” Slone wrote.
The winners in the older division were Katherine Concannon of Middlebury, Vermont, for a sculpture called “What We Left Behind”; Carolina Bragg of Brookline, Massachusetts, for a recorded piece of music called “If Bees Are Few”; and Nicky Howard Rogers of Yarmouth for a living display of ecosystems called “Microcosms.”
All of the art work submitted for the awards can be seen online at tidalshiftaward.com.