Humanities Moments

From Aesthetic Shock to Ethical Awakening: How an Environmental Artist and Activist Found Purpose

Contributed by Subhankar Banerjee, environmental activist, photographer, and professor at the University of New Mexico
Dead Bird, a painting by Albert Pinkham Ryder (1890s)
Environmental activist, photographer, and teacher Subhankar Banerjee recounts a time, shortly after moving to New Mexico, when he walked out of his house to encounter a small dead bird lying motionless on the porch. This humble, private moment of grief, confusion, and aesthetic complexity echoed the sensations he had previously felt while viewing Albert Pinkham Ryder’s 19th-century painting “The Dead Bird.” As Banerjee’s career has evolved to address the large-scale crisis of global biological annihilation, he still emphasizes that this small interaction between the human and non-human affected him profoundly and set him on a lifelong ethical journey.

Title

From Aesthetic Shock to Ethical Awakening: How an Environmental Artist and Activist Found Purpose

Description

Environmental activist, photographer, and teacher Subhankar Banerjee recounts a time, shortly after moving to New Mexico, when he walked out of his house to encounter a small dead bird lying motionless on the porch. This humble, private moment of grief, confusion, and aesthetic complexity echoed the sensations he had previously felt while viewing Albert Pinkham Ryder’s 19th-century painting “The Dead Bird.” As Banerjee’s career has evolved to address the large-scale crisis of global biological annihilation, he still emphasizes that this small interaction between the human and non-human affected him profoundly and set him on a lifelong ethical journey.

Contributor

Subhankar Banerjee, environmental activist, photographer, and professor at the University of New Mexico

Identifier

subhankar-banerjee-aesthetics-ethics

Referrer

Beyond Despair environmental humanities conference

Location