Talk: Monday, April 22 at 6pm to 7:30pm
The NoMa BID, as part of its ongoing activation of the lobby space at 1200 First St. NE, has commissioned a new artwork from District artist Andrea Limauro, who by day works as a planner in the DC Office of Planning. A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats will be available for viewing by the public when the lobby is open, weekdays from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., and will be on display through July 2019.
Because the painting’s topic is climate change in Washington DC, the artwork will be introduced at an event on Earth Day, April 22. In tandem with the artist’s discussion about A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats, there will be a conversation with two DC Department of Energy and Environment staff. Maribeth DeLorenzo, Deputy Director of the Urban Sustainability Administration, and Dan Guilbeault, Chief of the Sustainability and Equity Branch, will share what the city is doing to protect current residents and future generations from the worst effects of climate change projected to hit the District: more flooding; longer, hotter summers, and infrastructure failures. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is free to the public.
About the Painting
A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats is a 12-foot-wide quadriptych (four-part) painting commissioned by the NoMa BID. Narrowly understood, it is a dystopic artwork about the increased risk of flooding in Washington, DC, due to climate change. More broadly, however, it is also an allegory about the tragedy of human nature, which often is unwilling to make immediate sacrifices and lifestyle changes in order to guarantee shared gains, progress, and safety for ourselves and for future generations, unless catastrophe strikes.
A 360-degree, flattened panorama of a flooded Potomac riverfront in a not-too-farfetched future, A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats shows historic, cultural, political, military, and strategic infrastructure sites in the DC metro region at risk of flooding. The selected sites have a history of flooding and are projected to be at even higher risk of flooding due to sea level rise and the more frequent and powerful weather events expected to hit our region in the near future. As a reminder of how frequent and rooted in history flood events are, 12 dates are shown below the “Potomac River” inscription: these dates correspond with the largest Potomac River floods recorded as well as the earliest flooding event recorded, in 1748. In fact, per historical accounts, as a young surveyor, George Washington was “blocked by flooding of the Potomac, which had been caused by the sudden runoff of snowmelt high in the Appalachians” (Randall, 1998). The sites highlighted in the painting represent only a few of the significant areas most at risk of flooding and include, east to west, the City of Alexandria, Reagan National Airport, and the City of Arlington in Virginia; the National Mall and the monumental core, historic Fort McNair, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, and the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant (which serves the District of Columbia and several counties in Maryland and Virginia) in the District; and National Harbor in Maryland. For reasons of space and to avoid visual crowding, the artist does not include other at-risk sites such as the Georgetown waterfront, Foggy Bottom, Southwest DC, Buzzard Point, and Poplar Point.
Although the White House is only steps away from the flood plain, it is absent from the painting, to represent the current president’s choice of removing himself and the powers he holds from working toward a climate change solution. Instead, the president is seeing leaving the disaster area in Air Force One, highlighting the chasm between people of power and means and the rest of the populace in surviving and adapting to disasters.
Finally, the artist has transplanted real photos of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea to the Potomac. This is done both to create an imaginary bridge between his current home in the nation’s capital and the events happening in his country of origin, as well as to highlight that poor people across the globe are most at risk of enduring the brunt of the negative impacts of climate change.
The talk is located at 1200 First St NE.