Collapse Online Exhibition

This is the 8th What’s Next for Earth online exhibition based on Think Resilience,
a free online course by the Post Carbon Institute.

“Historians have long noted that civilizations appear to pass through cycles of expansion and decline. Underlying the factors that appear to contribute to the collapse of civilizations, there may be a deeper dynamic: the relationship between the ability of a society to solve problems
and the amount of energy it has available to do work.
Unfortunately, most energy production activities are subject to the law of diminishing returns.
At what stage in the cycle of expansion and decline might our own civilization find itself today?”
– Richard Heinberg, an excerpt of the Think Resilience free Online Course, lesson 9: “Collapse”.


Claude Benzrihem, Susan Bercu, Marianne Bickett, Christina Conklin, Kristine Diekman, Yvonne C. Espinoza, Sofia Greaves, Michele Guieu, Colton Hash, Eric Hongisto, Emilie Houssart, Pascal Ken, Marianela De La Hoz, Petra Jelinek, Ka, Deborah Kennedy, Nancy D Lane, Liz Miller Kovacs, PNW, Sydney Swisher, Patti Trimble, Marcela Villaseñor



Columbian X-change

clay and industrially farmed potatoes.

An edition of monumental busts based on Antonio Canova's ubiquitous image of Columbus found in plaster reproductions across the United States. This work is designed to exist outdoors in clay, with industrially farmed potatoes embedded in the head. Over time the potatoes will sprout and take over the form. ​

The colonial history of the potato is intricately tied to modern industrial farming and today's pesticide industry. A postcolumbian import from the Andes, potatoes are one of the US's top commercially farmed products, commonly used for processed and fast foods. Their introduction in Europe nourished the Industrial Revolution's workforce, whose exponential growth correlates with that of the potato plant. European nobility wore potato blossoms to public events to encourage the working class to embrace the new food, which was cheap and easy to grow. Susceptible to pests and blight, this tuber cannot be farmed monoculturally without varied and frequent chemical interventions, at the expense of the land, waterways, and countless species (including our own). This unsustainable practice is leading to a land fertility crisis and is a major contributor to climate change. ​

Wild potatoes in their native habitat are toxic to humans but can be consumed if eaten with clay, which adsorbs to the toxins and removes them from the body. ​

A plaster edition of this work exists to meet the sterility and longevity requirements of historical collections and museums.
  • Emilie Houssart

Performance Intervention at Geamana Lake in Romania

This mountain village was flooded in the ’90s by the nearby copper mine. It’s an underwater ghost town; the water is contaminated with cyanide.…

In collaboration with Stefanie Loveday, costume: Victoria Claire Hammond.
  • Liz Miller Kovacs

Urban Wildland Interface [Work towards a new interactive art installation]


Buildings will arise in a virtual landscape correlating to the movements of viewers in a gallery space. Like the trees in the simulated ecosystem, buildings will grow, live and decay as they collapse back into the earth. Disturbance events, such as disease outbreaks, will impact the ecosystem, in addition to the footprint of the inorganic strucutres. I am interested in creating a dynamic installation where viewers can consider impending collapse in ecosystems and industrial society, while also fostering space for the potential of regrowth and balance between our cities and forests.
  • Colton Hash

Behold the Tulapia

Video and Still image

Behold the Tilapia, 2019. Animated film and specimens. They reflect the history, mythology, importance, and decline of the Salton Sea and the fish that live in it.
  • Kristine Diekman

Harvest Moon, Nicasio Reservoir

Digital Photograph

As we end this year's hydrological cycle, you can see the results of a multi-year megadrought. What we can't quite see: an unrolling biological collapse, loss of migration ponds for animals, reduced habitat, and death, etc.
  • Eric Hongisto

Lest Water Cease to Flow

67x90cm found object assemblage wall sculpture created from water-stained, rusted and corroded materials found on the streets of Melbourne.

This work suggests the desertion and collapse of a once mighty city, due to human overuse and misuse of water resources that can no longer support the population.
  • Nancy D Lane


Egg tempera and mixed media
12 x 20.5 in

  • Marianela de la Hoz

The Earth’s Worth

Analog Collage
32 cm x 36 cm, October 2021

  • PNW Collage

Future Thoughts

8x8”, oil painting on board.

This painting is an examination of childhood innocence placed against a natural world that is degrading. The familiar comforts we participate in and are also at the expense of the future of children and the natural world.
  • KA

From the Collapse Collage series

Analog collage

In my continuing Collapse Collage series, this one turned into a prayer for awakening. Knowing the dangers we face makes my hope even more active and fervent. Made from an issue of National Geographic (May 1992).
  • Christina Conklin

What will happen if our food systems collapse?

Photograph after the harvest, 2021.

Heavy rains, saturated soil.
  • Petra Jelinek

Untitled for now

16"x20", oil on canvas

An idea I did as a break from everything else going on.
  • Sydney Swisher

Witness – Arènes de Lutèce, Paris, France

digital photography

Fall of Roman Empire in Lutetia (1st century AD to 5th century AD) Roman arena in Paris.
  • Marcela Villaseñor

“As a global civilization, as a species, we are sleepwalking toward collapse” Peter Kalmus, NASA Climate Scientist, October 2021.

Ruins in Prat-De-Mollo-La-Preste,
Eastern French Pyrenees, October 2021
4 Photographs

“Many authors who study collapse speculate that our civilization may be vulnerable to the same factors that resulted in the decline of earlier ones— including the buildup of debt, declining energy profitability (in our case due to fossil fuel depletion), and climate change. However, ours is the first truly global civilization, and the first to have serious global environmental impacts, including a mass extinction of species. Therefore, unless we’re able to make a rapid switch to non-fossil fuel energy sources, the result may be a far more severe collapse than that addressed in any of the theories we’ve just surveyed. This is certainly a fearful prospect, but it need not be a paralyzing one. If the chances of both ecological collapse and global civilizational collapse this century are significantly above zero, then we should explore what strategies could both reduce the likelihood and severity of collapse, and permit the best possible outcomes for all.”

Excerpt of “Collapse”, from the Think Resilience online course by the Post Carbon Institute.
  • Michele Guieu



This drawing of a hurricane and poem are from my book "Nature Speaks: Art and Poetry for the Earth".
  • Deborah Kennedy

Feeding the Monster, Expansion

Map, Color pencils, Sharpie

Looking at the proposed development plan for our community, it oddly and suitably enough took on the image of an all-consuming Monster. This plan is to create "light" industry, multi-family, and individual homes where currently there are working farms, small ranches, and, most importantly, sensitive designated "Title 13" riparian and upland conservation habitats (colored in dark green areas in the Monster). There are many empty commercial buildings in current town boundaries that should be utilized before such an ambitious plan becomes a reality. I wrote an article for the local newspaper "City Must Value Environment and Live in Unity with Wildlife" this summer where I question their justifications for this development because much of it is "vacant land". I wonder if they bothered to consider the wildlife in this definition, not to mention the biodiversity and sensitive habitat areas. When questioning the city council, basically the replies are that urban growth is good for the economy and brings in new taxes. That's the bottom line. Greed and grow, grow, grow!! It feels like cancer to me, a monster eating up all "vacant" land. Mindless Expansion = Collapse because it destroys the land that feeds us and that many animals call home. There are other creative solutions but the Monster must eat!
  • Marianne Bickett

Woman Crawling Under Clove

36”x47” oil on linen 2021

  • Patti Trimble

Planetary Boundaries

watercolor on paper, 25 x 25cm

This is an overlay of natural textures and landscapes which explores the complexity of interconnectivity: nature's mode for resilience and resistance against disintegration, and the underlying, systemic forces which promote economic growth at the expense of the biosphere. I work for the PROSPERA project, funded by the European Research Council, which considers the problem of Degrowth in the context of Science Technology, and Innovation. How can we reconceptualize 'innovation' to create a post-growth society?
  • Sofia Greaves

Humanity & Creativity

digital collage photography and calligraphy 25x25cm each

Even if all the lights display the red warning, I can't resign myself to “collapsology”. I want to believe in our ability to reconnect with our humanity, our creativity, collective intelligence!
  • Pascal Ken

Too Late (Even for Superheroes)

Recycled materials: Canvas map (wood back), toys, phone wire, bullet cases, fake flora, tulle.
Paper mâché heads, objects are tied, nailed to background.
30 in. H x 48 in. W x 4 in. D.)

“Too Late (Even for Superheroes)" Halloween, a true story: assemblage wall triptych describes the devastation of our planet. Superheroes represent magical thinking that ignores the evidence of global warming and imperils our ability to alter over-consumption and reliance on fossil fuels. My surreal images illustrate the real toll of science denial. Fire and ash are depicted in paint on maps, doll limbs, flora. Paper mâché heads, toy animals are riddled with nails and bullets. We are in this perfect storm of partisan division, corporate greed, and a world pandemic where our outmoded, perilous policies are established by the powerful rich. The Post Carbon Institute posits that we need a new superstructure to guide us where we serve nature rather than mastering it.
  • Susan Bercu

Meditations: Emergence

A series of six 6" x 6” pieces Hand-rolled paper beads,seed pods, wood, stone, shells on gessoed, cradled board.

What happens when our ordinary expectations collapse? This series is about resilience. It is about the place at the edge, an ecotone, the area that may fail or evolve to survive when met with new variables.
In my exploration, I am considering botanical formations and the “evolutionary” trajectory they take when encountering unexpected interactions.
In this case, they are meeting with social unrest, a global viral spread, and the Spring season. What emerges?
  • Yvonne C. Espinoza

The Collapse exhibition is based on Think Resilience, the Post Carbon Institute’s free online course. To respond to the art call, we asked the artists to signup and to watch the course, one lesson/video at a time. Each video is approximately 12 minutes long.

[Lesson 1: Introduction to the course]

CHAPTER 1: Our Converging Crises

CHAPTER 2: The Roots and Results of Our Crises

CHAPTER 3: Making Change

CHAPTER 4: Resilience Thinking

  • Lesson 13 – What is Resilience?
  • Lesson 14 – Community Resilience in the 21st Century
  • Lesson 15 – Six Foundations for Building Community Resilience

CHAPTER 5: Economy and Society

  • Lesson 16- How Globalization Undermines Resilience
  • Lesson 17- Economic Relocalization
  • Lesson 18- Social Justice
  • Lesson 19- Education

CHAPTER 6: Basic Needs and Functions

  • Lesson 20- Meeting Essential Community Needs
  • Lesson 21- Resilience in Major Sectors
  • Lesson 22- Review, Assessment & Action

Think Resilience is hosted by Richard Heinberg, one of the world’s leading experts on the urgency and challenges of moving society away from fossil fuels.

We live in a time of tremendous political, environmental, and economic upheaval. What should we do? Think Resilience is an online course offered by Post Carbon Institute to help you get started on doing something. It features twenty-two video lectures—about four hours total—by Richard Heinberg, one of the world’s foremost experts on the urgency and challenges of transitioning society away from fossil fuels. Think Resilience is rooted in Post Carbon Institute’s years of work in energy literacy and community resilience. It packs a lot of information into four hours, and by the end of the course you’ll have a good start on two important skills:

1. How to make sense of the complex challenges society now faces. What are the underlying, systemic forces at play? What brought us to this place? Acting without this understanding is like putting a bandage on a life-threatening injury.

2. How to build community resilience. While we must also act in our individual lives and as national and global citizens, building the resilience of our communities is an essential response to the 21st century’s multiple sustainability crises.

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