Zaria Forman's drawings look so striking that they are frequently confused as photographs rather than detailed, blended drawings that take weeks to complete.
As an artist who spends laborious time on her work, she graciously accepts the compliment, with a slight hesitation.
"I do hope that the work offers something other than what a photograph might; otherwise, there is really no point in me slaving away for hours in the studio," Forman said.
Her hands are the real workhorses of the vivid art she creates. Using her fingers, Forman draws majestic landscapes of ice caps in Greenland, the Maldives and other places she believes climate change is impacting.
Zaria Forman - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
Attracted to landscapes for much of her career, Forman said she is drawn to powerful forces of nature. In 2006, she ventured to Greenland for the first time where she was deeply impacted by the rising sea levels. Here, she saw an opportunity to educate others using her artistic talents.
"Perhaps if people can experience these sublime landscapes, they will be inspired to protect and preserve them," Forman said.
Her late mother Rena Bass, also an artist, had dreams of similar travels but the voyage never came to fruition. Forman led an Arctic Expedition in 2012 to Greenland called "Chasing the Light," dedicated to her mother. Inspired by a previous trip in 1869, the mission of the trip was to create art inspired by the dramatic geography of northern island, Forman said.
The trip prompted a series of drawings that documented climate change. However, it also served a deeply personal purpose too. Upon her mother's death, Forman incorporated her grief into the artwork inspired by her travels, and thus her mother became an integral part of the mission itself.
"The work addresses the concept of saying goodbye on scales both global and personal," Forman said.
In addition to Greenland, Forman has explored the Maldives, an island nation in the southern Pacific Ocean.
"I spent September 2013 in the Maldives, the lowest and flattest country in the world, collecting material and inspiration to create a body of work celebrating and representing a nation that could be entirely underwater within this century," she said.
A 2014 study by Ben Marzeion from University of Innsbruck and Anders Levermann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research found that several historical monuments and other populated regions could be affected by rising sea levels.
“Island states in the Pacific and the Caribbean as well as the Maldives and the Seychelles are particularly threatened, but not only these,” said Anders Levermann in a press release.
A percentage of sales from her pieces out of the Greenland and Maldives collections go towards 350.org, a "global climate movement" that works towards developing "people-centric solutions to the climate crisis," according to the website.
Calling art "therapeutic," Forman suggests that her compositions reflect the magnitude of the Earth's potential.
"Art can facilitate a deeper understanding of any crisis, helping us find meaning and optimism in shifting landscapes," she said.
Recently, her work has caught the eyes of many in Hollywood. Ten of her drawings were featured in the set design for House of Cards, a popular Netflix TV series.
She continues to travel across the world exhibiting her art and using her pieces to increase awareness in climate change and share a general appreciation for the natural world.
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