Categorized | Bloom_Dan, The World We Share

Art in the cause of raising climate change awareness

By Dan Bloom
Danny Bloom

Danny Bloom

heatstrokeCHIAYI CITY, Taiwan — Emma Podietz​, an avid bicyclist who once made a grueling cross-country road trip from Colorado to Pennsylvania, graduated from New York University in 2012 with degrees ​in environmental studies and Latin American studies, with a minor in art.

Now based in Philadelphia, the 25-year-old artist and ​environmentalist is working as a freelance illustrator and ​on the outreach and education team of Philly’s new bike share system, Indego.

Last year, when Vanderbilt ​University ​law professor Edward ​L. ​Rubin was getting ready to publish his first novel — The Heatstroke Line — he was looking for an artist to do the cover for ​the book, and knowing Podietz from family connections and an earlier academic book she illustrated for him, he asked her if she had time to ​do a new cover illustration for him.
She did, and the novel will be published soon by a small press in Pennsylvania and her artwork adorns the cover.
As someone who loves the great outdoors and did a solo bicycle trip across America, Emma says that her interest in art and nature comes from her Jewish family upbringing.
“I think my family has instilled in me the value of making things with my hands and also an appreciation for the great outdoors,” she said. “My grandfather, who is now 96-years-old and in near perfect health, has always loved camping and hiking and passed this on to my father, so our family went camping a lot while I was growing up.
 

Podietz, who grew up in Philadelphia in the 1990s and entered NYU in 2008​,​said that even as a kid she did a lot of drawings and paintings on her own.

​Even at home, both her parents were into  painting and drawing and her family valued the artistic side of things, she said.
“I did a few side illustration jobs throughout middle and high school, and I continued to make art whenever I could as an extracurricular activity,” she said. “After graduating from college, where I started out as a studio art major but ended up studying environmental studies and Latin American studies, I didn’t really plan on having a career as an artist or illustrator. Actually, my goal was and still is to find a career that combines my artistic ability with my passion for environmental and social issues.”
Working on Rubin’s climate-themed novel set in a dystopian near future, Podietz found a good way to marry her art skills with her worries about global warming.

“Given what the novel is about, you can imagine that I was thrilled to be working on the cover art,” she told San Diego Jewish World. “The concept of my illustration came mainly from my several conversations I had with Professor Rubin.
I did​n​’t want to create a cover image that was too melodramatic, but at the same time I felt it was important to create an image of a world that no human would ever want to inhabit. I think that in this illustration, the colors do that work for the viewer, particularly the yellow sky and red sun.”
The last scene in Rubin’s novel occurs when the main character has to walk a little more than a mile in Birmingham, Alabama (below the so-called ”Heatstroke Line”). The temperature on that day is about 140 degrees, and the man suffers heatstroke and almost dies. But a 12- year-old girl who is with him does get heatstroke. This is the scene depicted in the cover illustration that Emma did.
As an artist and environmentalist, Podietz is a woman with high hopes, telling this reporter: “Although I’m still exploring and figuring out a career path, I believe that the biggest challenge facing humanity is to figure out how to raise standards of living around the world while simultaneously monitoring and reducing the negative environmental and public health impacts that result from most forms of ‘development’.”

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Bloom, based in Taiwan, is an inveterate web surfer with a major interest in climate change.  He may be contacted via [email protected]
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