You are here: American University College of Arts & Sciences American University Museum 2021 Diane Burko: Seeing Climate Change

Diane Burko: Seeing Climate Change Curated by Mary D. Garrard and Norma Broude

Burko, Summer Heat
Summer Heat, 2020. Mixed media on canvas, 84 x 120 in. Courtesy of the artist. (View larger Summer Heat image.)

August 28-December 12, 2021

Read the exhibition catalog online, featuring a the fully illustrated exhibition catalog featuring essays by the curators, distinguished art historians Mary D. Garrard and Norma Broude, and a short essay by the environmental author and activist Bill McKibben. Available for purchase by emailing $40 each plus taxes and shipping, if applicable.

Presented in conjunction with AU Climate Action, a year-long interdisciplinary program focused on climate change across American University.

Painter, photographer, and climate activist Diane Burko has long been a prominent advocate for art’s role in addressing climate change. Continually traveling to some of the most affected areas around the world—the Arctic Circle, Antarctica, the Great Barrier Reef—she has interacted and collaborated with members of the scientific community, while producing a visually compelling oeuvre that powerfully communicates the threats posed by climate change. Having focused on the monumental wonders of the natural world in her earlier landscape paintings, in 2006 Burko redirected her practice to address environmental damage caused by global warming. While continuing to engage the traditions of landscape painting, her increasingly abstract and large-scale images are layered with visual and scientific information about the urgent challenge posed to the planet, manifested in glacial melting, coral reef bleaching, raging forest fires, and the COVID-19 pandemic. This exhibition will present many of Burko’s large-scale paintings and serial groupings, including the 56-foot-long “World Map” series, which addresses glacier and coral reef changes across the globe. Since 2018, Burko has embraced time-based media, with melting and flowing imagery that forcefully underscores her subject of climate degradation over time. The exhibition includes a selection of her “Lenticulars,” fluid animations that reference the motion of water, wind, and ice around the planet; and two videos, one on coral reefs and the other on melting ice, which are simultaneously lyrical and foreboding.

The first annual "Seeing Climate Change" Syposium was held on November 5-7. Learn more and view the recordings.

Diane Burko's "Seeing Climate Change"

An introduction to the exhibition, featuring Diane Burko and curators Mary D. Garrard and Norma Broude.

Sphere 4 Painting

Sphere 4, 2019. Mixed media on canvas, 20 x 20 in. Collection of Ivy Silver, Steven Leshner.


Diane Burko, Arctic Cyclone

Arctic Cyclone, 2012-13. Oil on canvas, 60 x 84 in.


Columbia Glacier Lines of Recession 1980-2005 Painting

Diane Burko, Columbia Glacier, Lines of Recession, 1980-2005, 2011. Oil on canvas, 50 3/16 x 60 in. Collection of Minneapolis Institute of Art, Gift of Pamela and Joseph Yohlin, 2019.144. Photo: Minneapolis Institute of Art.


Coral Fan 3 Painting

Coral Fan 3, 2020. Mixed media on canvas, 20 x 20 in. Collection of the artist.


Reef Map 1 Painting

Reef Map I, Mixed media on canvas, 50 x 88 in. Collection of the artist.


Ariel view of environment

Petermann Heading South (after NASA 2010-2011), (detail) 2012. Oil on canvas, 88 x 50.