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Student climate change art: “If Plastics Were Beautiful” by Judy Derrick

Student Voice: Climate Change Art and Activism

February 25, 2020

Student Voice: Climate Change Art and Activism

Susan Botch, a teacher at Glens Falls High School in New York, discusses how the recent issue of American Educator inspired students' climate change art.


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Climate Change Art and Student Voice

As an art teacher at Glens Falls High School in upstate New York, I was thrilled to read the compelling articles and see the vibrant artwork in the Winter 2019-2020 issue of American Educator. The cover package on teaching climate change was so inspiring that I used it to focus my students’ midterm projects on climate change.

I shared with my students several of the articles and links to climate fiction highlighted in the magazine. And I read them the following quotes from “A Beacon of Hope on Climate Change” by AFT President Randi Weingarten: “The disastrous effects of climate change are outpacing policy changes to combat them. … People want a better life and a better future. But we need the means. That is why it is so important that individuals — not just the most powerful — have a voice in our democracy. … People too young to vote are raising their voices in other ways.”

Thank you for such a great resource! I have used it to encourage my students to use their artistic talents to be heard. As their artwork above shows, these young artists (seniors Judy Derrick, Lison Tunick, Hannah Walsh and Alexis Cotty; junior Lindsey Richardson; and sophomore Gabrielle Meyers) are aware of the world’s climate crisis and are ready to make changes in their own lives. Even if they cannot yet be heard with a vote, they can be heard with their artistic voice.

Raising Student Voice Through Climate Change Art

View some of the climate change art from students from Glens Falls High School in Glens Falls, N.Y below:

“It Was a Warning” by Lison Tunick
student climate change art

“It’s Getting Hot in Here” by Hannah Walsh
student climate change art

“Lazy River” by Lindsey Richardson
student climate change art

“Mother Earth” by Gabrielle Meyers
student climate change art

“Reality Check” by Alexis Cotty

Susan Botch is an art teacher and the art department chairperson at Glens Falls High School in Glens Falls, N.Y.


The AFT was formed by teachers more than 100 years ago and is now a 1.7 million-member union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities.


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