The intersection of art and environmentalism has become a commonality with today’s contemporary artists, reflected in their works, as anthropogenic impacts have been the main driver of climate change on ecosystems, biodiversity, and natural resources. This sentiment is especially true with philanthropist, environmentalist, and eco-artist Natalia Kapchuk.
An artist dually based in the cities of London and Dubai, as well as a citizen of the Caribbean Nation of Antigua and Barbuda, Natalia Kapchuk is an ambassador at The Parliamentary Society of Arts, Fashion and Sports (UK), an ambassador for the Better World Fund (BWF), and a philanthropist supporting charities and organizations dedicated to protecting the lands and oceans of the world. She gathers inspiration from her many voyages abroad, having experienced the innate beauty within nature firsthand, often met with unsightly and heartbreaking scenes. These observations have a heavy influence on her creative approach and aesthetic.
Using a combination of various mediums, the artist uses natural and industrially resourced materials such as tree bark, sand, natural stones, and fermented moss, with polymers, resi-crete, gilding, metal chips, and reclaimed plastics.
Kapchuk’s environmentally centered mixed-media works from her first solo exhibition, The Lost Planet (2021) series, have captured the attention of the globe—subsequently, leading to an invitation to exhibit select pieces with the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda in their pavilion for Expo 2020 Dubai, amplifying awareness regarding the effects of human influence upon our planet’s lands and oceans.
A pair of islands best known for their culture and inviting people, pink and white-sandy beaches, diamond-like waters, and one of the most relaxing tropical marine climates in the world, Antigua and Barbuda is a destination treasure. With 95 miles of incredible coastline and surrounded by majestic and protective coral reefs, tourism is one of the main staples for Antigua and Barbuda.
As the saying goes, however, All that glitters is not gold. Recent studies have shown that the country of Antigua and Barbuda is exposed economically, environmentally, and socially to projected climate change impacts. Because of these findings, the government of Antigua and Barbuda have implemented various laws, bans, and restrictions on the use and importation of numerous plastic and styrofoam items that have a detrimental effect on the nation’s lands and sea, specifically their coral population.
“The Lost Planet project, dedicated to environmental protection and sustainability, has a lot in common with this small island country, which is vulnerable to climate change, rising sea levels, shore erosion, hurricanes, etc. There is a lot to be done, and my project brings awareness toward climate change and other pressing issues.”
-Artist Natalia Kapchuk
Due to such a hard stance taken by the country of Antigua and Barbuda and Natalia Kapchuk’s mission to spread much-needed awareness regarding the effects of human influence upon our planet’s lands and oceans, the pairing of these two together is a match made in heaven. And what better platform to showcase this than at the World Expo!
Spanning 170 years and one of the oldest and largest international events on the planet, the World Expo is back. And this time in the UAE, for Expo 2020 Dubai, making history as the first World Expo ever hosted in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region. The sheer scale of this year’s expo is massive, serving as an appropriate venue to maximize the joint mission of environmental awareness, protection, and sustainable practices.
Emphasizing the growing issue of plastic pollution, Natalia Kapchuk presented one of the most extensive pieces from The Lost Planet series, GPGP. FragmentNo98203. Partially housed within fish netting lies plastic items such as consumer packaging, various bottles, cups, and cosmetic tubes, unfortunately becoming a common feature of many marine habitats like that of Antigua and Barbuda, thus, prompting their government to implement such firm restrictions and laws.
Another matter of great importance for Kapchuk centers around increasing awareness concerning coral reefs, as reflected in her pieces Coral Maze (2020) and Ocean’s DNA (2020) from The Lost Planet series, currently presented at Expo 2020 Dubai.
Bearing the moniker “the rainforest of the sea,” coral reefs are the most diverse habits on the planet, with Antigua and Barbuda holding the most comprehensive coral reef habitat of any Caribbean island east of Hispaniola because of their unique geological and climatological conditions. However, these precious marine safe havens are severely at risk to threats of over-exploitation and mismanagement of marine resources.
In her piece, Coral Maze (2020), Kapchuk equates the process of withering and degradation to the labyrinth of coral reefs depicted; On one hand, the corals presented still contain their bright pigment, while on the other, separations and break-offs are prominently noticeable.
Concurrently, another artwork featured at the Antigua and Barbuda Pavilion is Kapchuk’s piece Ocean’s DNA (2020). Here, the artist utilizes a unique layering technique combining resins with various natural materials such as fermented moss and sand cultivated from the coastline of the Maldives to underscore the pure majesty and beauty of these underwater coral kingdoms.
The collaborative courage displayed by artist Natalia Kapchuk and the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda on the world stage of Expo 2020 Dubai should be commended and echoed. Although, gathering different minds together is not an uncommon practice for the artist, as she hosted a panel discussion coinciding her exhibition, The Lost Planet, last October 2021.
Kapchuk understands that the topic of the environmental state requires discussion and maximum coverage. Therefore, in London, as a part of The Lost Planet exhibition, an informative public talk titled “Is this Planet Earth’s Dying Century?” was organized with participating experts in ecology, environmental monitoring, organizations specializing in ocean clean-ups, sustainable developments, and fossil fuel reduction.
The invited guest speakers and experts for the panel were former Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Politician Barry Gardiner MP, Director of The Royal Geographical Society Professor Joe Smith, Director of Philanthropy at Earthwatch Europe Dr. Neil Bailey, and Assistant Director of Plastic Oceans Europe Juan Castaño Vilas. The moderator for the panel was TV presenter and BBC journalist, Samantha Simmonds.
Kapchuk asserts that with more awareness, actions, and collaborations, the state of our beloved planet will defy predictions set before it in the absence of change, especially when utilizing the penetrating power of art as a conductor.
The Pavilion of Antigua and Barbuda featuring the artworks of artist Natalia Kapchuk at Expo 2020 Dubai will be on display until 31 March. Following the expo, the works of Kapchuk will travel to South Korea to the Czong Institute for Contemporary Art – CICA Museum in Gyeonggi-do.
Material Provided by the Press Office of Natalia Kapchuk at FprBuro Communications Agency.