Joan Sullivan

Location: Quebec, Canada
Nationality: Canadian
Biography: Nothing is more urgent than shifting the global climate change conversation from despair to optimism, from apathy to action. Since 2009, I have focused my cameras (and more recently my drones) exclusively on the energy transition, creating... MORE
Public Story
Copyright Joan Sullivan 2024
Updated Mar 2020
Topics Abstract, Climate Change, Environment, Landscape, Photography, Spotlight
Having spent the last decade focused 100% on documenting the energy transition, I had somehow convinced myself that I was immune to feelings of despair and grief about the climate crisis because I was so busy creating positive images of the way forward, of solutions, of job creation. But the apocalyptic images of Australia's blood red skies and burnt kangaroos stuck to barbed wire fences that flooded the Internet earlier this year forced me awake. Halfway around the globe, in the northern hemisphere where I live, we were experiencing a different crisis that didn't lend itself well to dramatic imagery: little to no ice on Québec's Saint Lawrence River. For those who don't know, it is this thick ice that protects the coast - where the majority of Québeckers live - from erosion during our harsh winter storms.

How to photograph the loss of winter ice in a way that would pull at our heartstrings in the same way that the shocking photos coming out of Australia had done? I had no idea. But the grief I felt while walking along the shores of the Saint Lawrence River in early January was so intense, with the heartbreaking images of Australia still fresh in my mind. My hands could not hold my camera steady, which resulted in some intriguing blurred images. In the weeks that followed, I revisited the Saint Lawrence repeatedly, which helped me to explore the profound sense of sadness for what we have already lost, and what we all stand to lose from the climate crisis. All images in this series, which I will expand over the coming years, were created in-camera (i.e., no photoshopping) with minimal post-adjustments (contrast, clarity).

A selection of 10-12 images from this ongoing series will be exhibited at the Centre d'art du Kamouraska in eastern Québec from 04 July to 07 September 2020; here is the link: And next summer 2021, a selection of these images will be exhibited in a lupine field at the beautiful Jardins de Métis in Grand-Métis, Québec. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, three of these images were published on the Artists and Climate Change platform, for my monthly column "Art in the Time of Corona": Bonne lecture.
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