Vermont State University 2024
Art is a means of expression and, as such,
I believe works of art should have something to say.
Oceans are a place of mystery and wonder. This work reflects the complicated relationship
humans have with our oceans.
Powerful and beautiful, oceans are awe-inspiring. Yet, as humans, we often disregard what we
don't understand. This trait has had deadly consequences for other species in an ecosystem we depend upon for food, recreation, medicines, the air we breathe and even our planet's ability to sustain life. Indeed, it may have deadly consequences for humanity as well.
The Coffee Bag Project
So many Americans have an intimate relationship with coffee. It's among the first things we think about when we wake up. When we are tired, cold, or in need of comfort, we turn to coffee as the remedy. We pledge allegiance to Dunkin' or Starbucks or Pete's, or the local coffee shop down the road. Machines by Keurig or Phillips or Nespresso hold a place of honor on our kitchen counters, sometimes accompanied by bean grinders and milk frothers.
But the story behind or favorite cup o' joe is not always pretty. As a whole, the industry exploits indigenous people around the globe. It destroys native communities. It uses child labor. It devastates the rainforest and exasperates and expediates global warming.
The good new is, we have options. We have access to information. If we so choose, we can spend our money on coffee that pays farmers a fair wage. We can seek out coffee that is grown using sustainable, earth-friendly practices. We can purchase certified Organic and/or Fairtrade coffee, which meets a strict set of criteria to address at least some of the industry's problems.
In Karen Stankiewicz's article "Why Drink Fair Trade Coffee? Separating Fact From Fiction" on utopia.org she writes, "Whether you intend to or not, by drinking conventional coffee, you are promoting environmental destruction through monocultures and pesticides, payment below the subsistence level and exploitative child labor. These problems are real and can be directly attributed to our coffee consumption."
My hope for The Coffee Bag Project is that it will prompt you to think about your choices when it comes to products such as coffee, chocolate and oil that have a history of exploiting the people and places of the global south to feed our lifestyle choices in the global north.