Yeah, it’s been hot. Really hot. And before that it was dry. Really dry. It’s enough to make a person nervous about what will happen next. What’s the climate going to be like in the future? How will we cope?

James Leonard tent

Perhaps you would like to talk about it. Sustainable Tompkins is hosting Brooklyn-based artist James Leonard on the Ithaca Commons this Thursday, August 18, from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. James will be in The Tent of Casually Observed Phenologies offering free, private “readings” on climate change. Everyone is invited. Readings last approximately 15 minutes each and are given on a first-come, first-served basis.

Divination has been used by cultures throughout the world to help people navigate difficult futures. James has adapted Tarot cards to help others process what he calls “overwhelming climate anxiety.” This summer he’s traveling the country, making one-day stops to give climate change divinatory readings inside a special, hand-sewn tent. (Read more here or watch the video.)

From the outside, the tent looks like a cross between a post-apocalyptic wigwam and a children’s blanket fort. The rainbow interior is made out of brightly colored recycled clothing. It required over 500 hours of hand sewing to complete. Detailed tea-colored ink paintings of different plant and animal species—each reportedly affected by climate change are pinned to the outside.

J_Leonard_portrait01 (1)Leonard explains, “A lot of thought has gone into The Tent of Casually Observed Phenologies. I wanted to create a space for contemplation, where participants can slow down, articulate questions and find clarity. Climate change is a universal concern. Art is the perfect place for expressing and evaluating concern.”

Sustainable Tompkins has been hosting conversations on the climate since 2004, and their 2014 salon series on ‘The Climate, the Market, and the Commons’ featured an exploration of both climate denial and climate grief as barriers to taking action to protect our shared future. To help folks get engaged, they will be tabling nearby, along with The Sustainability Center, to promote their Finger Lakes Climate Fund. They are running a fall ‘Seal the Cracks’ campaign to raise funds through carbon-offset donations to help additional lower-income residents make energy efficiency improvements in their homes. So far they have helped 18 households with over $33,000 in grants to eliminate about 1700 tons of carbon dioxide.

James Leonard is an internationally exhibited artist. He recently finished a 2016 artist residency at MASS MoCA. In 2015, he was artist-in-residence at the Boston Center for the Arts. When not on the road, he lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Contact Information For the Artist:

Molly Gallentine, Tent Tour Coordinator