To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and embody this time we’re in, I created this paper collage titled “Breathe in the Roses, Blow Out the Candles”. The title is inspired by Danny Burstein’s quote about his respiratory therapist’s advice to him for his lung strengthening exercises. Just as COVID-19 makes it difficult for us to breathe, the pollution we’ve caused on the planet in many different ways makes it difficult for the Earth’s proverbial lungs to breathe.
I create these paper collages by cutting up magazine pages and piecing them back together with meaning and intention. It’s a reminder to me that from the pieces we can build back better. My hope is that we will see this opportunity not to just reopen and go back to our old ways, but to embrace the fact that the health of the planet is intricately linked to the health of all beings who call it home, including us.
Happy Earth Day. Let’s make sure that the next 50 years are far better for our beautiful planet than the first 50 have been. We have the capability to make that so. What we need is the will and commitment to be better global citizens.
To celebrate Earth Day, I highly recommend a trip to NYC’s first museum, the New-York Historical Society, to see Hudson Rising, their gorgeous exhibit about the Hudson River. Inside you’ll meet a family friend of mine, folk singer Pete Seeger. We were introduced to him by another family friend, Faith Emerson Ward, my father’s childhood neighor. His boat, the Clearwater (a model of it is in the museum’s exhibit and is pictured here), was a common and prominent fixture in the Hudson Valley when I was a kid. At our annual Clearwater Festival, I ate stone soup, boarded the boat, and learned about environmental conservation. There, I first learned that not everyone loved and cared for the planet as we did so we had to show people why it mattered so much. I remember Pete as a kind, gentle, and unrelenting soul. This Earth Day, I’m thinking of him and his message. I’m sure he’d be proud to know how many of us are carrying on his legacy and working hard to help all people live in a way that supports life.