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Environmental Artist Janel Houton

More about Janel

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Environmental Art at McQuade

McQuade Library is hosting local artist, Janel Houton, from Beverly, Massachusetts. Her artwork will be featured on the first floor of McQuade Library in April in celebration of Earth Day and Environmental Justice for Social Justice Week! Stop by to see her work! She will also be presenting a talk entitled

Native Species Threatened: the Environment, Climate Change and Faith, from 1600s New England to Pope Francis on Wednesday, April 13 at 2:45 in McQuade Lobby by the art.

Sugar Maple Die Off, 2015, Acrylic on Canvas, 15"X30"


Endangered Bog Turtle, 2015, Acrylic on Linen, 12"x16"


Endangered Dragonfly, 2015, Acrylic on Canvas


Barrens Tiger Beetle, Acrylic on Canvas, 16"x20"


From the Artist

This is a series of works inspired by the decline and endangerment of species, particularly in Massachusetts and New England, due to climate change and human development.

In Buddhism one is constantly reminded of the interdependence of every object, being and concept within the universe, and the subtle impact and consequences of each choice we make and thoughts we decide to act on. While we have made great strides in environmentalism in recent years, the number of animals that are endangered and becoming extinct, in combination with climate change threatening ecosystems, there is little denying that we, and much of the life on the planet, are facing very critical times.

An article in the Boston Globe in the spring of 2015 describing a report on the current and future impact of global warming on New England’s native species was really shocking to me; it described a potential die-off of Sugar Maple trees within a hundred years, trees which turn brilliant shades of red in the fall, that are iconic to New England. Reading this motivated me to do a series of artwork based on regionally endangered and threatened species that include text from articles and reports related to each subject. Through my own reaction of making a connection to Sugar Maple trees with my local environment, I realized that people may not connect the impact of global warming specifically to their own lives, and I hope through my art to make that connection more clear.

I think that while every human being struggles to come to terms with our own and our loved one’s mortality, the potential and actual extinction of a species brings a much more profound sense of ending and loss. I don’t feel like it can even be described in words. Each of us live one single lifetime, so how can we even comprehend the end of an entire species, some of which have been around for tens of millions of years? While this is challenging to process, I am still hopeful that people will connect that each one of us can make individual choices and actions that can positively impact these scenarios, and that the use of renewable energy sources, versus fossil fuels, activism as well as daily consumption choices can help change the outcome, especially when seen on a large scale. I hope that people will recognize the power they have to make compassionate choices for all of the earth, and most especially for those plants and animals facing critical challenges now and in the future.

This series of art is meant to educate and inspire. I welcome and am seeking opportunities to share and exhibit this work as a group. 


A Video of Janel