I was always interested in art and also in social change and politics, and at that point in my twenties, I actually decided to apply the law school and ended up practicing environmental and human rights law, to mainly do art. And then, really the two did not merge in my life until around 2006, living in Paris, and started thinking about, what do I want to stay with my art? What do I want to do with it? And I started thinking about climate change and about literacy, limits to carbon. That is when my art finally became political. So, Storytelling with Saris is one of my first attempts to do that. I think it’s just sort of a way of like— It’s a very tactile way of bringing the experiences of women, of the women in Bangladesh, where her family is from, to the U.S. That’s the big disconnect for a lot of people around climate change, is it seems really far off and really distant and kind of abstract, but the people there in Bangladesh, they’re experiencing the effects of climate change at this very moment. So this sari was actually printed by the women of Katakhali Village, Barabaishdia Island, in Bangladesh. When I was there visiting in 2018, we had a rainstorm— an untimely five days of rain. One woman cried and told me she lost three cows. A good cow fetches $1,000 dollars. So for this woman to lose three cows, she lost $3,000. For them, that’s like years of income. Interviewer: Was this a lot of work? Definitely! Definitely. A lot of climbing… adjusting… talking and interacting with the community, really explaining what we’re doing and why we’re here. But it’s great. We’ve gotten really embraced by a lot of people, make them happy every time. – Did you see your sari? Mine’s over here. – This one?
– No, my name was up here. Right now, let me find it. Whoa, where is it? So hopefully a picture emerges of this community, and hopefully we don’t lose this community. These are actually— All these islands in Asia, in the Philippines, in Japan, in Bangladesh, each have their unique culture. They have their unique folk traditions, whether it’s songs, it’s art, whether it’s music, and their stories as well, and their way of cooking, their way of life. And they’re really— It’s a huge loss of heritage. They really have not harmed the Earth the way we do. I’m part of the problem myself, as an American. We have a much higher carbon footprint. So I think it’s incumbent upon us to feel connected with them, to learn from them, to learn how to make a cultural shift. Community is very important to addressing climate change. If we have a greater sense of community— whether with our neighbor across the street or with someone across the globe, who’s very much on the front lines of climate change— if we feel a connection, that will help us address climate change. “Chant to the storm and sing,” “sing the song of victory.” “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.” you