Sea Change: Photographers Respond to the BP Oil Spill


What was running though Alison Zavos’ head when Jeff Barnett-Winsby, one of the co-directors of this weekend’s Wassaic Summer Festival, asked if she was interested in curating a photography show? “At the time, I was feeling really frustrated and a little helpless with the clean up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico,” she says. “I came up with the idea for ‘Sea Change’ as a way to figure out what good, if any, could come out of this disaster… More specifically how we might look a things differently after the spill, ask questions, and look at our lifestyles with more awareness.”

When it came to selecting artists, Alison emailed some photographers who she already knew through Feature Shoot, her photography blog, and also put out a call for submissions. “I don’t think anyone created works especially for the exhibition, however I did get some submissions of children dripping with oil playing on a beach as well as oil-drenched models — although nothing that overt (and obvious) made it into the show,” she says. “Most of the images I’ve chosen are quiet and contemplative, touching on what is happening in the Gulf, but in a less evangelical way.”

With the green movement having such a huge impact on things like fashion and architecture, does she see that same trend happening in visual arts — specifically, photography? Not necessarily, Alison reports. “But I am seeing more photo essays about ‘intentional communities,’ sustainable farming, beekeeping, urban homesteading, and environmental activism,” she says. ‘While there are many photographers documenting the negative effects humanity has on the environment, it’s been very refreshing to see photographers capturing the positive side as well, which is what ‘Sea Change’ is all about.”

Click through below to preview a selection of work from the show.

Mark Mahaney

Katie Shapiro

Lexi Adams

Charlie Engman

Billie Mandle

Elizabeth Weinberg

Eva Fazzari

Margaret Inga Wiatrowski

Timothy Briner

Rachel Barrett