New Work: Martin Dunn

Artist Martin Dunn received MOFSA’s major grant award in 2020. Since then, he has generously given of his time to serve on the board of MOFSA and continues painting at his Bradenton, Fl. studio. Like many of us, he’s turned his heart and mind to the topic of the environment in crisis. His new painting “Tower Rock”,  takes us to Mississippi in the Summer of 2022 and examines the fair distribution of water.

Tower Rock

Martin Dunn
Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches

Did you know the Mississippi went dry last summer? So did the Rhine and the Yangtzee? This painting was started with the intention of alerting people to an overlooked climate change related natural catastrophe, but it evolved into something else. The two young people have a panoramic view as the disaster unfolds. They are unemotional, detached, watching it play out. They know this car is out of control and the brakes have failed. Yikes. Read more from Marty’s website.

A Word on Eco-Anxiety from a Contemplative Artist

Have you heard the term “eco-anxiety”? You can probably intuit the meaning even if you haven’t. To me, it’s a creeping feeling accompanying “environmental awareness”. YES, I am aware of the benefits of recycling so I push the bin to the corner AND I worry, “what else should I do..? is this enough?” 

As a kid I watched classmates leave their homes as underground coal mine fires spread through the neighboring town of Centralia, PA. Fear of ground collapse is a very real threat (in fact it happened) and no amount of meditation or prayer changes the fact. Decades of political strife dragged on about whose responsibility it was to pay for the fire to be extinguished while it raged and undermined the town. Poisonous gasses infiltrated homes from below and families lost sleep— if they were lucky enough to have carbon monoxide alarms.  Now Centralia is abandoned and sensationalized as a ghost town. 

Serious cases of eco-anxiety may cause obsessive focus on dystopian scenarios draining our physical energy leading to depression. This state of “dis-ease” is becoming more common as we hear stories from around the world about dangerous changes that threaten all living things. Scientific American recently reported that even medical professionals are at a loss :

“The American Psychiatric Association (APA) recognizes climate change as a growing threat to mental health, but many mental health professionals feel unequipped to handle the growing number of people anxious and grieving over the state of the planet.” 

Scientific American, April 19, 2021
Therapists Are Reckoning with Eco-anxiety

Although the social media algorithms and the 24 hour news cycle attempts to hold us hostage to bad news, there are reasons for hope. Icon and primatologist-turned- environmental-activist, Dr. Jane Goodall says:

“I do have reasons for hope: our clever brains, the resilience of nature, the indomitable human spirit, and above all, the commitment of young people when they’re empowered to take action.”

Jane Goodall, The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times

Visit the “Good For All News” page at to learn about real change makers, or if you prefer a podcast tune in to her HOPECAST. My favorite podcast is “Climate of Change” hosted by Danny Kennedy and the actress Cate Blanchett.  It’s entertaining and substantially informative. Best of all it’s a reminding you that we can–and are–solving problems.  People of every generation are participating and finding new ways to adapt. It’s what all living things do and will keep doing.

You may be an artist whose work inspires awe or raises awareness, you may be a clinician that provides physical relief; you may be a retiree, gardener, writer, or have a job that allows you access to the public—whatever your gift and station in life, emerge from your shadowy thoughts and assist as the spirit moves you. Though we are human- with the power to reason and myriad fralities- we are also divine. Something energetic is at work in and around us guiding us towards connectedness and peace. You have felt it. If it has a “voice” it’s inaudible to me but I can usually recognize it by a subtle sensation of warmth in my heart, hands, and eyes. It’s a softening– a sensation that reminds me that young people are watching every generation that came before them to figure out how to move forward. You may not know exactly what to say about smoke turning our skies orange but you do know how to put on an N95 mask. If modeling persistence, loving-kindness and humility is your gift, this is enough. It is the best gift to share because it nourishes other acts of generosity that naturally live inside others. What I learned from watching the devastation in Centralia is: the better the primordial health of a community before a crisis, the better it can cope.

In July I’ll be visiting Pennsylvania and will make a trip to Centralia to take more reference images for a new body of artwork about Centraila. I want to meet the man who returns every week to mow the grass on the site of his old home. I also have plans to connect with old friends who’ve remained in the region, and learn about the newly discovered heat loving microbes that are helping researchers better understand resilience. Imagine that, new insight about resilience straight from the disaster zone!

To see new art visit the visual essay, “Environmental Crisis Through the Lens of Centralia, Pennsylvania”. This body of work was selected by The Environmental Peacebuilding Association and the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform-led Community of Practice on Environment, Climate, Conflict, and Peace (ECCP).  It will be exhibited in Dubai in 2024 as part of a global grassroots project showcasing the impact of environmental and climate change on communities and conflict around the world. 

COVID-19 Information and Reflections

I am writing this for my friends and for the several communities I belong to. When I first decided to do the research and contemplation for this paper, my concern was chiefly to raise awareness and heighten a sense of urgency. And indeed as of March 23, 2020 the coronavirus is widespread, with 332,935 confirmed cases, and the rate of infection is accelerating. (And the acceleration continues; as of March 30 there are over 735,000 confirmed cases):

  • 67 days to reach 100,000 cases
  • 11 days to reach 200,000 cases
  • 4  days to reach 300,000 cases

The world can change the trajectory, but it requires solidarity. It is the need for this solidarity and social cohesion that I would like to most emphasize.

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