Farting Cows and Furless Polar Bears: Student Winners of Global Environmental Arts Contest Depict the Climate Crisis Through Humor, Satire, and Other Unconventional ApproachesNovember 16, 2022
Featured student artwork: “How Did You End Up Here?”, Sally Choi, 16, Vancouver, Canada
(Boston, MA) – Today, Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs (Bow Seat) announced the winners of the 2022 Ocean Awareness Contest, an international arts competition that engages youth in creatively raising awareness of environmental issues impacting our blue planet. The 2022 Contest theme, “The Funny Thing About Climate Change,” challenged participants to create pieces that subvert expectations for what climate change messaging typically looks like through unorthodox approaches like humor, satire, parody, irony, and positivity. More than 4,000 students from 83 countries responded with paintings, poems, songs, films, podcasts, and stories that included imagery of polar bears sans fur, farting cows, Arctic beach destinations, and other funny-not funny depictions of the climate crisis.
Bow Seat recognized more than 340 middle and high school students from around the world with over $91,500 USD in scholarships for their artistic achievement in the visual and performing arts, creative writing, film, and multimedia. The Gold Award winners of the Senior Division (ages 15-18) are:
- Art – Sally Choi (Canada)
- Creative Writing – Nadia Momtaz (California)
- Film – Vivian Xie, Anushri Dwivedi, and Rachael Kapoor (New Jersey)
- Multimedia – Isabella Crews-Dearing, Rinaldo Pearson, Isabella Ritchey, Olivia Ball, Cametria Dixon, Keith Daniels (New York)
- Performing Arts – Quinn McMath (Michigan)
- Poetry – Dyllan Han (California)
- Spoken Word – Megan Chan (New York)
The Gold Award winners of the Junior Division (ages 11-14) are:
- Art – Arinne Ryu (United Kingdom)
- Creative Writing – Ryan Pi (Georgia)
- Film – Cassidy Tran (California)
- Interactive & Multimedia – Chloe and Claire Weng (Texas)
- Performing Arts – Sabine Cuesta (Canada)
- Poetry – Amber Li (Virginia)
- Spoken Word – ZiQing Li (Germany)
Bow Seat also presented ten $750 We All Rise Prize awards in both the Junior and Senior Divisions—a total of 20 awards and $15,000 USD—to Black, Indigenous, and Latine students in the U.S. whose entries demonstrated notable artistic achievement in their chosen categories. The We All Rise Prize is part of Bow Seat’s long-term effort to increase the diversity of our program participants, and includes educational programming that centers the voices of artists of color, and a representative advisory committee.
“When we launched the 2022 Contest, we recognized that the theme–to use humor and other unconventional approaches in climate change communications–would be challenging,” said Linda Cabot, founder and president of Bow Seat. “We are so impressed by the participants who stepped out of their comfort zone and demonstrated how comedy, satire, and irony can be effective ways to address difficult subjects.
“Although climate change is no laughing matter, the judges were entertained by many of the submissions, which collectively showed us how humor offers a safe way for people to approach, understand, and start conversations about divisive topics,” continued Cabot. “As one student noted, ‘the theme required a lot of research, but it also allowed me to learn and grow as both an artist and individual.’”
As part of our programming, Bow Seat expands the reach of student work by featuring their pieces in our online Gallery, and through exhibitions, film screenings, presentations, publications, and social media. This provides special opportunities to showcase the talents of individual artists, while leveraging the power of students’ collective voices to raise awareness of environmental issues among broader communities.
The 2023 Ocean Awareness Contest, “Climate Heroes in Action,” is open now through June 13, 2023, to students ages 11-18 worldwide.
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About Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs: Bow Seat is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit whose mission is to educate and engage youth in ocean conservation and advocacy through the arts. Bow Seat’s annual Ocean Awareness Contest, now in its 12th year, has engaged nearly 30,000 middle and high schoolers from all 50 U.S. states and more than 130 countries. Bow Seat has awarded over $625,000 USD in scholarships to help advance teens’ creative talents and passion for the environment. Visit bowseat.org for more information about Bow Seat’s programs, educational resources, and collection of student artwork and creative media.