In July 2018, the artist David Benjamin Sherry went to Alaska to photograph landscapes at risk of disappearing, including the LeConte Glacier, a looming, 21-mile-wide slab of turquoise ice that is rapidly retreating due to climate change. “Neither words nor pictures can really convey the experience of standing in front of LeConte Glacier,” Sherry says. “We must take action immediately, all of us—today, we have no time left.”
A little over a year later, one of Sherry’s striking photographs of the glacier appeared on a billboard on Lafayette Street in New York City, paired with the words “Warming Ahead.” While the pun suggests a certain lightheartedness, the image itself is a gut punch. A similar billboard, with the words “Warming Signal” prominently displayed, just went up in Omaha, Nebraska. Others will continue to pop up in various locations as we get closer to the 2020 election.
The billboards were financed by Bridge Initiative, an environmental nonprofit with roots in the fashion industry. It was founded by fashion designer Katherine Fleming, and Proenza Schouler co-founder Lazaro Hernandez is on its board of advisors. Fleming utilizes art’s unique ability to get people to pay attention as a way to spur people into action: “I believe art has the power to make people fall in love with nature again, and when people love something they will protect it,” she says. The billboards, produced in partnership with the Alaska Whale Foundation, engage the public in the fight to come up with solutions, while hopefully taking a moment to examine their own impact.
Here, a selection from Sherry’s Alaskan portfolio showcases these gorgeous, fragile landscapes: