Joining hands to address climate change: UMass events bring together artists, scientists and activists

  • Taiwanese artist Tai Siao-chun, better known as Sauljaljui, is a member of Small Island Big Song, a musical/multimedia ensemble that performs at UMass Amherst March 27 as part of the ASA series. IMAGE COURTESY OF UMASS FINE ARTS CENTER

  • Poet and prose writer Kimberly Blaeser, a former poet laureate of Wisconsin, speaks March 26 at UMass Amherst as part of the ASA series. IMAGE COURTESY OF UMASS FINE ARTS CENTER

  • Yoyo Tuki, a musician and dancer originally from Rapa Nui (Easter Island), will be part of a panel discussion at UMass Amherst March 28 that will consider different ways of addressing climate change. IMAGE COURTESY OF UMASS FINE ARTS CENTER

Staff Writer
Published: 3/22/2022 10:09:16 PM
Modified: 3/22/2022 10:08:24 PM

AMHERST — How do we confront climate change? At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the thinking goes, one idea is to make the arts a vehicle for drawing together people from different fields to build a more sustainable future.

What’s called the “Art.Sustainabilty.Activism” (ASA) series will offer a series of mostly free events March 26-28 that highlight different ways of addressing climate change. Music, literature, poetry and science are on the agenda, and the ultimate goal of the forums is to connect artists, scientists and activists in the battle.

The series is a collaboration among the UMass Fine Arts Center, the MFA program for Poets and Writers, and the university’s School of Earth and Sustainability, a division of the College of Natural Sciences.

This year’s programming includes readings by a number of writers and poets whose work addresses climate problems; a performance by members of Small Island Big Song, a music/dance/multimedia ensemble from Pacific island and Indian Ocean nations; and a panel discussion including authors, scientists, activists and performers.

“We intend for this annual art, science, and humanities partnership to reflect society’s best efforts to address the climate crisis,” Michael Sakamoto, performing arts curator at the Fine Arts Center, said in a statement. “We want to show creativity at the center of any solution.”

“It is clear that science alone will not provide the solutions,” said Curt Griffin, co-director for the School of Earth and Sustainability. “It will take fostering new partnerships and assembling creative teams that fuse together arts, sciences, humanities, innovation and culture.”

The series begins March 26 at 1 p.m. at the Augusta Savage Gallery with readings by contributors to Paperback magazine, an interdisciplinary UMass journal, and a new issues of The Massachusetts Review, both of which consider climate change.

At 6 p.m. on March 26, Indigenous writer and scholar Kimberly Blaeser, a former poet laureate of Wisconsin, will do a reading at the John Olver Design Building. Santee Frazier, a visiting faculty member in the MFA for Poets and Writers program, will then moderate a Q&A with Blaeser.

Small Island Big Song performs at 4 p.m. on March 27 in the Frederick Tillis performance Hall (tickets are $20), and some members of the group will join other panelists on March 28 at 7 p.m. in Bowker Auditorium for a varied discussion on climate change.

Related is an opening reception on March 28 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Augusta Savage Gallery for an exhibit of paintings by Kabu MBII, whose work is inspired by social, political and world events, including environmental crises.

To register for these events and to get more information, visit

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at
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