There is a simmering discontent in me, living in a stratified world that is systematically unjust for the many, and superfluously accommodating for the few. The crisis of climatic change exemplifies this system in action, creating suffering for the masses while enriching the minority. Painting is my method of articulating my primary response to that reality: anger.
Two Degrees Warmer takes aim at those who do harm to the world, channels the ire into meaning via beauty, and hoists those who have been repressed. The leaders of the world, official or de facto, are driving the planet beyond the precipice of irreversible damage: a global average temperature increase beyond two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.
Environmentalism was my gateway to activism, and feminism my stepping stone to recognizing innumerable other injustices. This series fuses the two, placing focus on a lone female figure who bears the marks of climate change, personified as physical injury or disability. Thus, the figure anthropomorphizes the earth itself. In one painting, the woman’s limbs transform into a patchwork of scaly, splitting skin, analogous to the cracks that form in parched earth from drought. This imagery comes directly from my near-decade as an ICU nurse.
Women may bring to mind gendered stereotypes of motherhood, or spiritual connections to Mother Earth, but another parallel exists – like the planet, women have little authority over global decisions. Two Degrees Warmer conveys how male-dominated power structures exploit women, but centers femmes as the sole narrators of this tale.
Brooke Bartholomew is a figurative oil painter in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her work infuses a Classically-inspired approach to the figure with contemporary sociopolitical commentary. She studied figure drawing under Mark Greenwalt before earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Texas Medical Branch in 2015. A pediatric ICU nurse with nearly a decade of experience, she is now nearing completion of a Master of Fine Art in Painting/Drawing from the Academy of Art University. Her current series, Two Degrees Warmer, explores the convergence of two distinct themes, feminism and environmentalism. Some of her work is currently showcased in the American Women Artists’ 2022 Spring Online Juried Show.