Art World

Climate change in the Bay Area is focus of two new exhibitions

Linda Gass’s Dogpatch: Impact of Climate Change and Sea Level Rise. Photo: courtesy Museum Craft and Design

 The Museum of Craft and Design has two new compelling exhibitions dealing with the ways in which individuals are addressing climate change.

“Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience” features ambitious work from artists and architects creating adaptations to a world that will be increasingly in need of emergency shelters in a climate-constrained world. The concurrent exhibition “Linda Gass: and then this happened …” draws attention to the natural water infrastructure in the greater Bay Area.


This exhibition is guest curated by Randy Jayne Rosenberg of Art Works for Change. “Climate change represents a vastly different kind of environmental challenge, requiring out-of-the box thinking in how we adapt to and survive the expected onslaught of extreme weather and other disruptions,” said Rosenberg. “Artists are uniquely adept at reenvisioning our world and how we relate to it.”

Sustainable architecture strives to minimize negative impact to the environment through the use of efficient, nondetrimental resources. This exhibition makes climate change concepts accessible to a general audience through four central themes that reflect key characteristics about survival architecture.

Circular — the importance of durable structures that can be used and reused indefinitely;

Portable — the ability to create movable and nomadic dwellings;

Visionary — forward-thinking ideas that can radically transform our assumptions about shelter; and 

Resilient — structures that can adapt to adverse and dynamic circumstances.

Cricket Shelter: A Modular Edible Insect Farm from 2016 by Mitchell Joachim of Terreform One is an exotic, sculptural dwelling that also contains a functioning cricket farm. Cardborigami, 2016 by Tina Hovsepian is a portable dwelling inspired by origami art. Her lightweight and sustainable cardboard shelters are big enough for two people to sleep in, and can actually fold up into a size that is small enough to carry. Mary Mattingly’s Desert Deployment 22011 is a camouflaged covering acting as shelter in high temperatures. Artist Thomas L. Kelly’s photo of destroyed homes in Nepali Earthquake, 2015 drives home the need for the development of human shelter that can survive a full life cycle of durability pre-, during, and postdisaster.


This exhibition presents multimedia artist Linda Gass and her stitched paintings and works in glass, questioning water and land use in California. She brings extensive knowledge of the impact of changing waterways, sea-level rise, fire, and drought to create works that evoke topographical maps and textile art. Using dye, Gass paints directly onto silk, an art-quilt medium, adds a backing and fills it with batting, then stitches directly onto the painted fabric. 

This exhibition also has four themed topics: The artworks illustrate how sea-level rise, constructed waterways, rain/snowpack loss, and wildfire changes impact our environment. Three aerial street views of Dogpatch show how it looks today, how it would change after a three-foot sea-level rise and the devastation after a six-foot sea-level rise.

Another locally themed piece, Severely Burned (2015) depicts the effects of the 2013 Rim Fire on the Tuolumne River Watershed, which provides drinking water for San Francisco and other Bay Area cities. Droughts and Floods: California Average Annual Rainfall (or Snowpack) 2019 is made from bullseye sheet glass and glass frit, showing a graph representing rainfall over time. These works have a jeweled, rich, and pristine appeal to the eye providing a contrast to the dire nature of Gass’s powerful messages.

Gass comments, “Our current water infrastructure was designed during an era when our climate was more stable and the average annual rainfall was higher than it is now. Human development has permanently altered and destroyed much of our natural water infrastructures such as wetlands and watersheds. My textile, glass, and mixed-media artworks address these concerns — how our infrastructure and development policies are failing under climate chaos — and invite the viewer to ponder the question ‘what can we do better?’”

“Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience” and “Linda Gass: and then this happened …”Tue.–Sat. 11 a.m.–6 p.m. and Sunday noon–5 p.m., Dec. 19–May 3, $8, Museum of Craft and Design, 2569 Third St., 415-773-0303,

Sharon Anderson is an artist and writer in Southern California. She can be reached at

Send to a Friend Print