Artists explore climate change in Sun Gallery’s new exhibit

Climate activist and artist Jennifer Koney explains how the looming threat of sea level rise influenced her art at the Hayward Sun Gallery's RE-Imagining Climate Change exhibit reception on Saturday, Feb. 4. (Sonia Waraich — East Bay Echo)

HAYWARD, Calif. — When Jennifer Koney was working for the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District, she worked on research with several other agencies on the impacts of sea level rise to the Hayward shoreline. When the reports detailing that research began rolling out, the projects turned out to be more catastrophic than Koney expected.

“I actually started crying,” Koney said, “and I’ve never heard of a bureaucrat crying over a report unless it was a budget cut, but that’s when I knew I had to act.”

Koney, who has a Master of Fine Arts, got back into the art studio and started painting images of glaciers and icebergs on doors, each with a 55-inch horizon line, so a viewer, without initially realizing it, will be face-to-face with how high water levels will be in the future. Three of those pieces — “Ice Flow,” “Soot Holes” and “Carbon Footprint” — are on display as part of the RE-Imagining Climate Change exhibit at the Sun Gallery in Hayward through March 18.

“It’s a backdoor approach to sharing difficult information on local climate impacts,” Koney said at the exhibit reception on Saturday. “So you unpeel it when and if you’re ready. You could just look at it at as a pretty painting, but then you can also start asking, ‘Why is there always this line there? What is the 55 inches about?'”

All of the works on display at the Sun Gallery for the next month and half feature themes related to the climate crisis and the environment more broadly, including ceramic gasoline canisters, paintings illustrating modernity encroaching on nature, found-object sculptures and more.

The gallery is located at 1015 E Street in Hayward and is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

  • A ceramic gasoline container by artist Axziry greets visitors when they walk into the Sun Gallery in Hayward. (Sonia Waraich — East Bay Echo)
  • Hayward Poet Laureate Bruce Roberts reads his poem "King Tide." (Sonia Waraich — East Bay Echo)
  • The Daughters of Cairo perform an earth-based Middle Eastern dance. (Sonia Waraich — East Bay Echo)
  • A visitor observes sculptures by artists Marjorie Lynne Wagner and Dewey Elquist at the RE-Imagining Climate Change exhibit reception at the Sun Gallery on Saturday, Feb. 4. (Sonia Waraich — East Bay Echo)
  • (Sonia Waraich — East Bay Echo)

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