A new art installation by clean tech photographer Joan Sullivan in Quebec, Canada saw a selection of images from her vast body of photographic work installed in the interior of two sections of a wind turbine tower. The images celebrate the people — the men and women — who are building the clean tech installations that are powering the global transition to clean energy.
Indeed, each wind turbine was sited, designed, manufactured, assembled, and brought online by a veritable army of workers from around the world. As robotic and inhuman as they appear, wind turbines are extensions of the creative minds and hands of humans.
In much the same way, Joan seeks to bring that which is distant back in touch with people from around the world. She focuses her camera exclusively on solutions to climate changes as a way to advance the conversation on climate change, making it more real and tangible at the same time. Winds of Change was assembled to highlight the workers, the people, and the opportunity to leverage new clean tech solutions like wind turbines as not only a part of the solution to climate change, but as an industry that workers from the oil and gas industries can look to as future opportunities. Each wind turbine represents dozens if not hundreds of people who contributed to it in some way.
Joan’s email signature embodies her aspiration to capture the essence, the magic, the story behind wind turbines around the world and bring them to the world: “A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” The quote comes from the infamous Dorothea Lange, who blew around the United States as it withered amidst the Great Depression, telling stories of disenfranchised farmers.
I met Joan on a clean energy media tour in Germany where we connected on the bus as we toured the coal mines and power plants just months before their closure. As we moved onto the renewable energy park in the innovative community of Saerbeck, Germany, Joan lit up. She wandered the park from solar panel to wind turbine with the enthusiasm of a kid in a candy store, snapping photos along the way. Her passion for clean energy is contagious and it flows out of her through her photos. In fact, Joan took the photo of me that I’m using as my profile photo here on CleanTechnica while we were on that very media tour.
Much like the Solar Panel Art Series raises awareness and funds for solar energy, Joan assembled the Winds of Change installation to raise awareness of the potential of wind energy. It is the first photography installation of its kind to raise awareness of the potential of wind energy. Winds of Change is Joan’s second big photo exhibit, following an exhibit she participated in last year in Venice, which ran in parallel to the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. “It is the first photographic installation of its kind in North America that invites visitors to walk through two unpainted metal sections of a wind tower to view large color photographs of wind energy construction sites,” Joan said. She hopes to expand the installation next year with additional photos and audio recordings from wind construction sites.
The installation came about through an uncanny collision of events that started with a local manufacturer of wind towers, Marmen. Marmen had two tower sections that were slightly damaged so they reached out to Reford Gardens to see if there was any interest in the oversized cylinders. “The director of the Reford Gardens, Alexander Reford, contacted me to suggest that I create an installation on the inside of these two wind tower sections with my wind energy photographs,” Joan said in a statement about the installation. She is the only photographer in the region focused exclusively on the energy transition and was thankful for such a unique opportunity.
Winds of Change opened to the public on June 16th and runs through October 6th, 2019 at the Reford Gardens in Quebec, Canada. The installation was sponsored by CREBSL, a local environmental advocacy group and Innergex, a Montreal-based renewable energy company.
Joan is currently working to raise funds for a new pan-Canadian documentary that will tell the stories of some of the humans working day in and day out to bring the energy transition to reality. For more information about Joan and her evocative clean tech photos, wander on over to one of her pages on your favorite web-based platform: