Hello Kirsten is an artist who has been creating murals and public art installations for over a decade in cities spanning the globe. Her work plays with patterning as a ubiquitous form of human expression, and is often inspired by environmentalism and climate action.
Her recent work 'Elegy for Lake Ontario' is a mixed media installation that imagines what it would be like if invisible contaminants were instead obvious, and could be easily removed from important watersheds. In this installation, oozing pools of pollution are piped in from the lake in a fantastical depiction of waste that addresses the declining health and rising pollution in Lake Ontario.
Sucked back onto land, the flow of contaminants is reversed. These piles of toxic sludge are more beautiful than actual waste, and more visible than the microplastics that cannot be fully filtered out of our drinking water. They represent what is already there, beneath the surface.
Lake Ontario, the most polluted Great Lake, is a lake in decline. 200 years of mining, development, industry, and population explosion along the lake’s shoreline have resulted in high levels of pollution, a significant loss of biodiversity, and ecological dead zones. Hopeful press releases and meaningless strategy documents push the myth that meaningful action is being taken in a timely manner. It is not.
In reality, we’re in the midst of a mass extinction event, and have a few short years to make meaningful cuts on pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Protecting our key waterways is an important task we cannot afford to lose sight of.