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About the Author

Ellyn Weiss + Sondra N. Arkin
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This site-specific, immersive installation, taking over the first floor gallery and sculpture garden of the American University Museum in Washington, DC, February-August 2024, reflects upon the mass migration of human populations caused by climate change. This continuing displacement of millions will have profound consequences in many dimensions that The Human Flood will aim to reflect.

The installation will create a sense — through a variety of sculptural interventions, collaborative prints, photography, audio, and paintings — of diminishing habitable land, nomadic refugee scenarios, the human and societal impacts of this uprooting and the fracturing of family ties, uncertainty, poverty, and helplessness — and convey what it is like to leave behind a life upon migration.

It has been conceived and created by Ellyn Weiss and Sondra N. Arkin, two artists who have collaborated for many years both in making installations and in curating exhibitions. A major part of their work over the past decade speaks directly to the existential threat posed by global climate change. The Human Flood is a glimpse into the lives of those uprooted by diminishing habitable land creating a sense of movement and insecurity, mirroring the displacement of refugees. Weiss and Arkin hope to challenge the audience to imagine the societal transformation necessary in the richer global North, which bears most responsibility for the activity creating climate change, to accommodate the challenges of migrations of this magnitude.

The Human Flood isn't just about raising awareness – it's about forging compassion and empathy. By confronting viewers with the raw realities of forced migration, Ellyn and Sondra present a challenge to consider the human cost of environmental change and societal upheaval. They compel viewers to imagine themselves in the stories of those swept up in the ever-rising tide of displacement and consider changes in policy to shape solutions.