Category Archives: Press Release

Climate Week NYC Convened Policymakers, Celebrities and Activists

Author: Arthur Zaczkiewicz
Publication: MSN
Published: September 27, 2019
Article Link: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/climate-week-nyc-convened-policymakers-celebrities-and-activists/ar-AAHWE6Z


This past week’s Climate Week New York City convened citizens, activists and politicians — and also served as a moment for brands and businesses to tout sustainability initiatives. Even Hello Kitty had something to say about the need to address climate change. And while President Trump’s pending political woes and related headlines followed him from Washington to New York, Climate Week NYC aimed to oxygenate environmental issues via more than 100 city-wide programs and events. At the U.N., where Trump spoke earlier this week, policymakers and experts gathered for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, which served as a more “official” base for the week’s activities.

But events were spread out across the city and focused on a variety of topics and themes such as transportation alternatives, the benefits of wind farms, installing green roofs and indoor farming. The week’s business sponsors included heavyweights such as Bank of America, Salesforce, Unilever, Ikea and the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., among others. At the New York Public Library, HSBC held a “Financing a Sustainable Future” conference, where trending topics such as blockchain, scaling up green finance and sustainable development came into focus. Its “Blockchain as a sustainability solution” discussion examined how the technology is revolutionizing industries worldwide through unadulterated transparency and traceability for each party involved in a single transaction.

Zoe Knight, managing director, group head at HSBC Centre of Sustainable Finance, said she sought out speaker Sofie Blaksted, lead researcher at the Sustainable Digital Finance Alliance, to help unlock the mysteries of blockchain. “We wanted to find out how blockchain could help facilitate the acceleration of investment across the globe, particularly in emerging markets,” she noted in her introduction of Blaksted. “Corporations and consumers both recognize the need to finance green,” Blaksted said. “But to get from where we are today is an exponential change, and to go from incremental to exponential requires a revolutionary approach. Luckily, the tools are now available.”

She then dove into the basics of blockchain, explaining that the technology “has many policies we can use to transform the green market,” due to its reliable and transparent nature. When describing the technology, Blaksted said, “Copies of transactions are copied to ledgers on every node in a network” — which means that digital ledgers record transactions in a series of “blocks” that multiply and spread to many computers within a network.

“[Blockchain] is really useful for recording transactions,” she added, as blockchain absorbs new transactions and simultaneously stores past data in the chain, resulting in a lengthy list of every transaction that took place for a single commodity. “Everyone is a witness to the transaction. And that means that every copy has a true and valid record of that transaction happening. And what’s more, in a blockchain, each block transaction is cryptographically signed and linked to a previous block, so you can’t historically transform it.”

Blaksted also emphasized that issuing green bonds — which fund projects related to environmental or climate initiatives — and using them in tandem with blockchain can help enable full traceability, as well as present investment and distribution opportunities to swiftly increase development in the green sector. At the U.N., the Sustainable Development Goals program hosted a “media zone” with boldface names and climate activists such as 16-year-old Greta Thunberg.

One thing quickly emerged during the week: the youth activism movement is unprecedented, especially toward sustainability and climate change. At the media zone program, Aidan Gallagher, singer, actor and the youngest-ever U.N. Environment goodwill ambassador, discussed his motivation to help with climate change.

A California native, Gallagher noticed an impact on the oceans where he surfed regularly at a young age and started using his platform on social media to educate his generation on the environmental crisis. Social media, he said, is the largest and easiest way to share information today. His advice to his followers wanting to contribute is to start by committing to one impactful action to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Gallagher suggests trying “meatless Mondays,” saying a meatless diet is one of the most effective ways you can fight climate change. Gallagher says he started with a meatless day once a week and has now become vegan.

“One of the first things that I tried doing in terms of taking action on a personal level was trying this campaign called ‘meatless Mondays’ so one day a week I would try to adopt a plant-based diet,” said Gallagher. During a separate presentation, Sanrio Co. Ltd. launched a collaboration with the U.N. to promote the Sustainable Development Goals through a global video series on Hello Kitty’s YouTube channel.

“Hello Kitty is bringing her enormous fan base to our global efforts to educate young people, in every part of our world, about the Sustainable Development Goals, and why they should be involved in achieving them,” said Melissa Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for global communications, United Nations. The monthly series, #HelloGlobalGoals, was presented by Hello Kitty herself who said, “we need compassion to achieve the 17 goals.”

The YouTube series has already seen popularity in Japan, and through this partnership for global expansion, the series will share stories of what is happening as people implement the Sustainable Development Goals in every country. The series is set to release one video a month for the next year. Climate Action NYC runs through Sunday, and closes with an art installation on Governors Island. “Cartographies of the Mind” is described by organizers as “a participatory installation which visualizes the brain waves of viewers as they contemplate climate change, pollution and their relationship to planet Earth.”

“As the viewer’s brain waves reflect thought patterns over a changing aesthetic spectrum, they become the agent for the creation of the art experience, revealing the multilayered internal compositions of the landscape of the mind,” the organizers said of the installation, which is created by artist Judith Modrak (with research support from Julia Buntaine Hoel).

Art Review: Neuroscience takes shape in the latest New Arts Program Exhibition, March 2019

Author: Ron Schira
Publication:
 Reading Eagle
Published: March 24, 2019
Article Link Here

“In the Garden of the Mind,” an exhibition of freestanding sculpture by Manhattan artist Judith Modrak, views through March 3 at New Arts Program, Kutztown. Modeling the cellular structure of the human brain, the artist represents the neurons, dendrites and other such cranial content into curvelinear statuary that oddly become creatures in themselves.

Familial Memory and Family of Memories

Measuring anywhere from a few inches to several feet tall, the cellforms occupy the floor of the gallery in a mock-surreal setting of work that looks to be made by aliens from another planet. They are made in casts of resin colored with acrylics or plaster painted with oils to offer a smooth, almost skinlike surface texture.

The shapes and forms are taken from the biological statistics provided by studies from doctors and scientists, placed in curious figurations that resemble human or animal interactions, as if having a conversation or posing in self-awareness. Arranging the work in series according to their biological categories, they seem to tell a story.

“Passion,” for instance, from the dendrites series, features a pair of plaster cells about 5 feet tall engaged in a discourse, just as “Fading Memory,” from the vital memories series, depicts a 4-foot supine organism, tendrils reaching up and inward as if struggling with something (in this case, the struggle is the dilatory effects of Alzheimer’s disease).

Passion

From Modrak’s statement: “The forms and concepts in my work bridge art and science by exploring scientific advances that increase our understanding of psychological and neurological landscapes, including the nature of memory, brain physiology, the biochemistry of neurons and neurotransmitters and the mechanics of sensory experiences. I translate these esoteric and often intangible concepts into three-dimensional anthropomorphic forms. These humanlike structures embody psychological and emotional states, often mirroring their beholders with a pronounced expression of bodily gesture.”

Another piece from the dendrites series titled “Family of Memories” portrays a sloth or anteaterlike form that is seemingly self-absorbed or contemplating something. Other pieces sit atop poles and express themselves through various gestures. Included also in the show is a life-size standing human figure titled “Ancestors and Axons.”

“In the Garden of the Mind,” Modrak continues, “unveiling as part of the New Arts Program, uses the garden as a metaphor to examine the lifecycle of experiences and memories. This site-reflective installation includes new work and sculptures from Dendrites, Vital Memories and Thought Storm — all of which use neurons and dendrites as a springboard to investigate how our brains react and respond to processing information and emotions. The current belief is that certain memories and life events create distinct patterns in our brains.”

Fading Memory

As artworks on their own, these peculiar objects are well-made and do not need scientific justification to be art. And regardless that these works lean toward abstraction and surrealism, they are to a degree representational and portray real things in the real world. They adapt natural medical conditions and appearances into a language that is, albeit analogous and metaphorical, something relatable.

In the Garden of the Mind, NAP Preview

Publication: New Arts Program
Opening Reception: January 18th, 2019, 6-9 p.m. with artist talk at 7:30 p.m.
Exhibition Dates: Jan 18th – March 3rd, with gallery hours Weds-Sun, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
See full article here

The work of New York-based sculptor Judith Modrak has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States including Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, the Trenton Art Museum, Point Park University, the Palm Beach Art Armory, the Woodstock Museum, Monmouth Museum, and the Hartnett Gallery. In New York City, Our Memories, a public artwork of seven sculptures, has been installed on Governors Island, in Central Park, and is now on view in Thomas Paine Park through May 2019. The documentary Memories Recorded, Memories Stored, about Modrak’s project Our Memories won Best Science and Education Documentary at the Madrid International Film Festival in 2017.

Modrak’s sculpted biomorphic and anthropomorphic figures, address universal issues of empathy, cognition, aging and mental illness. Her work has been featured in various art, science and news publications, including the Science Channel, the Tribeca Trib, Scientific American, the Seaside Times, the Rochester Review, SciArt, Sculpture Magazine, Sino Vision, and the Pittsburgh Tribune. Modrak earned a BA in Studio Art, Cum Laude, from the University of Rochester. By 2013 she had achieved artistic recognition in New York City and has received a Chashama/ National Endowment for the Arts grant and two gold medals in sculpture from the National Association of Women Artists, among other awards. As part of her New Arts Program residency, Modrak is unveiling, In the Garden of the Mind—a site reflective installation of totem-like, human-sized sculptures delving into the lifecycle of ideas and sensations. To see more of Modrak’s work, visit: www.judithmodrak.com and connect @judithmodrak on Instagram and FB.

To schedule a one-to-one talk with the artist on Friday, Jan 18 or Saturday, January 19 please call 610-683-6440.