Cliff Cockerham is a retired biomedical research scientist/instructor, an active Climate Ambassador with Physicians for Social Responsibility, and director of the CEC's National Climate Emergency Campaign. Photography was a natural sideline to science beginning at an early age. He was first introduced to art classes as a young student at Mexico Academy High School and then to art criticism as a freshman at Cornell University double majoring in Genetics and Communication Arts. An interest in painting later developed alongside workshops & retreats while completing a doctoral thesis in basic biomedical gerontology at Georgetown University, followed by a cardiology fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine and geriatrics at Harvard University Medical School. As Cliff entered the "Third Age" his interest in the arts rose to prominence as a means of conveying scientific knowledge.
Consequently, much of his current work brings science into art galleries and generally promotes the arts as they address the existential problem of climate change. As a sideline to his scientific work, Cliff published over 100 photographs in print media, illustrated 2 books, was executive producer on a documentary, and served on the board of an Atlanta ballet company. While the Paris Accords were being written at COP21, Cliff organized the screening of an American documentary on fracking and moderated a panel on its health implications, sponsored by a chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility and the national Sierra Club. Concurrently, Cliff lived in the “Place to Be” arts & performing arts commune in Paris.
His artwork is highly influenced by his participation in 4 UN conferences [1979 - Manila, Philippines; 1980 - Nairobi, Kenya; 2014 - Vadodora, India; 2015- Paris, France] and multiple professional sojourns through two dozen+ countries on four continents and four oceans. Building on that background he now paints, organizes gallery exhibitions, and delivers gallery talks on climate change messaging in arts and performing arts. He also employs climate change art as a means of focusing meditation during retreats he leads on the writings of Pope Francis and the Global Catholic Climate Movement.
Cliff bridges his work on environmental justice to climate justice globally by serving as part time Director of Curriculum & Instruction at the Maya Environmental Education & Research Center [MEERC in Tres Reyes & Akumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico; https://www.facebook.com/MEERCenterMexico/]. There he guides college students and other volunteers in environmental fieldwork projects and provides the scientific input for MEERC artist residencies in Akumal. In January 2019 Cliff was part of the volunteer messaging support staff on Laudato Sí for a half million pilgrims during the Papal visit to Panama City, Panama. Now he leads both workshops and spiritual retreats on the message of Laudato Sī, as well as artist residencies in the Yucatan. As TN State Coordinator for CCL Cliff helps manage and deploy Congressional Lobby Teams from 7 communities throughout TN. He continues to personally lobby Congress with delegations from the Environmental Defense Fund [EDF, Feb 2020]; Ecumenical Advocacy Days [EAD, April 2020]; Citizens Climate Lobby [CCL, June 2020], etc. In the same time period in North FL he has organized climate change art exhibitions for 11 artists and will moderate 13 climate change-focused gallery events, speaking at 9 of these as a PSR Climate Ambassador.
After joining “United Climate Artists” and “Artists for the Earth" [a professional support team within the international Earth Day Network], Cliff became a founding member of the "A4E Collective" [Artists for the Earth] within the Climate Emergency Coalition, creating venues for A4E work year round. With A4E and through MEERC's Education Partnership with the international Akumal Arts Festival [AAF] he collaborates on the promotion of climate change messaging in conjunction with the themes of sustainability and community resilience in the developing world, standing in solidarity with indigenous peoples and SLR-threatened small island nations. For Cliff, protecting the most vulnerable people on the planet from the "globalization of indifference" is a moral imperative that ultimately drives his dedication to climate mobilization, as well as his messaging through and with art.
"COP21, going down by the bow and leaking oil"
- a mixed media painting [acrylic, silicone over a photo-imprinted canvas].
"Twilight of the Anthropocene Era" - a mixed media painting [acrylic, silicone on canvas]
"The Road Not Taken to a Healthy Climate"
[digital photograph, Venice, Italy]
Photo Image Collection: “Wild Fires” …are among the most common natural disasters that are heated up by climate change. More energy pumped into weather systems effectively means more dramatic, severe weather events. When drought hits in the context of climate change, it runs long and deep, thoroughly drying out forest, brush, and grassland. Whether the first spark is from a lightning strike, a poorly deployed electric transmission system, or just really bad behavior… when the fires start they burn long, hard, and without relent.
Wildfires #1 “Losing Homes and Communities” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
Wildfires #2 “Fire-nados, the new normal” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
Wildfires #3 “Fire mapping” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP) sometimes it seems like the entire State is on fire… one site launches embers that sets of the next wild fire before the front line fighters can deploy.
Wildfires #4.1 “Up Close and Personal” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP) notes that as homes and amenities merge with nature, fires strike back to reclaim natural spaces with wildfires.
Wildfires #5 “No escape” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP) captures the feeling that wildfires endlessly engulf California.
Photo Image Collection: “The Healthy Climate Project”
Healthy Climate Project #1 “Smokey Sunrise” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP) a gentle, light fog rises over an open field. This is what a wild space can look like if humanity stays out of the way.
Healthy Climate Project #2 “Guarded Waters” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP) Yes, that’s one of nature’s guardians: we don’t need to swim everywhere, do we?
Healthy Climate Project #3 “Not an Invasion of Pod People” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP) artificial reefs, Playa Paraiso facing the Great Mayan Reef, The Yucatan
Healthy Climate Project #4 “Reclaiming Wild Spaces” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP) Iguana manage to thrive despite humans, gently invading human vacation spaces. Can’t we all get along?
Healthy Climate Project #5 “Consequences” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP) when we heat the ocean and fill it with nutrients, Sargassum and other fora grow out of control. In small amounts it can be beautiful, but when it piles 10 feet high that isn’t good for anyone nor anything else.
Photo Image Collection:
“Changing Climate Through the Filters of a Technological Imperative”
Humanity grasps objective reality by deploying technology to change his material conditions of existence. Technology to refine the understanding of how Nature works
But Ellul warns that technology has a life of its own.
Still others point out that some technologies which are technically possible are not always developed or when developed, are rejected. Ironically, pointing to We need only consider the lack of commitment to developing alternative energy sources.
Some might argue that we have evolved to the point wherein we no longer need nature.
To effectively respond to the existential crisis that is climate change, we need to embrace “Cathedral Thinking”
TI #1 “Iguanas Change Color” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP) with or without aid from technology. But, with technology they could disappear from the regions we currently know as the tropics.
TI #2 “Eroding Coasts” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP) - It often starts when developers remove the mangrove forest buffers between the oceans and the interior forests.
are removed, trees in the interior become vulnerable to saltwater, waves, and inundation to which they are not adapted.
to are vitally important. Over the previous 50 years, one third of the world’s mangrove forests have been lost, often due to development efforts predicated on the mistaken belief that this space was wasted and needed to be recovered. In point of fact, these estuary and shoreline ecosystems are
cting . Of those remaining in the developing world, another 25% are projected to disappear by 2025. In addition
“Climate Change: a threat of the era“ (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
TI #3 “Weirding Weather” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
TI #4 “Over-heating the Tropics” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP) [Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico]
TI #5 “Bird of Paradise” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP) Who would have thought the tropics getting hotter risks looking less tropical? Read: “Recent responses to climate change reveal the drivers of species extinction and survival” by John J. Wiens,
PNAS February 25, 2020 117 (8) 4211-4217; first published February 10, 2020 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1913007117
TI #6 “Chakalaka” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
TI #7 “Iguana” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP) https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/lizards-are-dying-out-because-of-climate-change-study-says-1973015.html
“An international study has found that as many as 20 per cent of the 3,800 species of lizards could be extinct by 2080 if global temperatures continue to rise as predicted.”
TI #8 “Rain Bomb” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
TI #9 “Tumor” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
TI #10 “International Ave.“ (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
TI #11 “Tunnel Vision” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
TI #12 “Penthouse” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
TI #13 “Heatscape” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
TI #14 “Alleyway” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
TI #15 “Coba peaking out” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
TI #16 “Coba lakeshore” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
TI #17 “A Gaping Wound” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
TI #18 ‘Clouds Over Cancun” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
TI #19 “Harvest of Indifference” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
TI #20 “Palm Trees of the Healthy Climate Project” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)
TI #21 “Palapa Pier” (limited edition print #1 of 20 + 2 AP)