Southern Oregon Artists Address Climate Change Through Photography

Emigrant_Lake_Bed_26626.jpgBy Vickie Aldous. Daily Tidings Posted Oct. 30, 2015 at 12:01 AM 

Local photographer David Lorenz Winston was hiking the shoreline of Emigrant Lake when he saw a trickle of water reaching the depleted lake.

"Emigrant Lake was almost depressingly low," he recalled. "I took a wide angle lens and used it to emphasize that thin rivulet."

The resulting photograph, "Emigrant Lake II," glows with the golden hues of dried grass and the shimmer of an overcast sky reflected in what remains of the lake's waters.

The photo will be on display from Wednesday, Nov. 4, through Nov. 24 as Hanson Howard Gallery hosts the exhibit "Beauty in the Time of Climate Change." The exhibit — which features several of Southern Oregon's most accomplished photographers — is meant to spur community dialogue about climate change impacts.

The gallery at 89 Oak St. in downtown Ashland will stay open from 5 to 8 p.m. for the First Friday Art Walk on Friday, Nov. 6.

Rogue Climate, a grassroots group promoting clean energy, energy efficiency and action to address climate change, asked the gallery to host the climate-themed exhibit. Group members are also bringing together the community to create a giant snowflake to celebrate Ashland and creative solutions to climate change. The snowflake will be displayed during the First Friday Art Walk and will remain on display through the weekend.

Scientists predict as the globe warms, Southern Oregon will have less snowpack — a vital resource that provides gradually melting snow in the spring and summer to feed the area's irrigation and drinking water reservoirs.

Reservoirs like Emigrant Lake have been hard-hit by back-to-back years of extremely low snow levels in surrounding mountains.

Photographer Darcie Sternenberg also drew inspiration from Emigrant Lake and will display photographs of the reservoir. Her black-and-white images depict the dry, cracked lake bed as mist rises from the ground. The cracks form abstract patterns, while the mist creates a sense of mystery.

Jim Chamberlain's photo "Fire at the Rogue" shows shafts of sunlight illuminating smoke as it drifts through conifers lining the Rogue River. He took the photo as wildfires burned in Southern Oregon this summer.

"I was going up along the upper Rogue by Crater Lake. Smoke was coming through the trees. It was a pretty nice shot, so I took it," Chamberlain said.

Another predicted impact of a changing climate is larger, more intense and more frequent wildfires as temperatures warm, less snow falls and Southern Oregon forests dry out.

It's not clear yet whether recent drought years and smoke-filled summers can be directly linked to climate change, but the conditions replicate what could become the new normal in coming decades, according to scientists.

In the photo "Gambling With Our Landscape," Chamberlain superimposed an image of vivid red dice from Las Vegas over a photo of a bleak, deserted landscape with blue, gray and white hues.

Other photographers exhibiting work in the show include Doug Smith and Vincent Leandro.

Although exhibits with a social or political message can sometimes fall flat aesthetically, the photographs are intriguing and beautiful on their own.

Winston said he supports the concept of having an art exhibit about climate change, but the art itself must be alive and dramatic.

"The exhibit serves a dual purpose to entertain and awaken," he said.

For more information about the exhibit and Hanson Howard Gallery, call 541-488-2562 or

For more information about upcoming events related to climate change, including Ashland Climate Week Nov. 6 through Nov. 15, visit or

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or Follow her at

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