Name: Alison Banks
Year: Second-year Masters
Submission: Spheres of Heaven and Hell - Embroidery
Commentary: In “Spheres of Heaven and Hell”, Alison Banks uses hand embroidery and paint to illustrate three projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Inspired by Dante’s formulation of hell, in which the afterlife’s realms are organized as a series of concentric circles, Banks’ shows us three potential climate scenarios sewn into three stacked embroidery hoops: the outer hoop depicts human civilization’s best-case scenario, where greenhouse gas emissions decline beginning in 2020; the middle hoop shows what life might look like if emissions begin declining in 2050; and the inner hoop, the most hellish, shows a world set ablaze by humans’ current and unchecked emissions. While Dante’s original inferno consists of 9 circles, Banks’ shows 3, emphasizing the proximity of climate change’s disastrous consequences. Indeed, the inner circle might be the smallest, but it stands out like an irrefutable, fearsome, and maybe galvanizing, bulls-eye, dead center. In the face of all this future-thinking, the judges appreciate the artwork's blatant objecthood: it's big, obviously, but the embroidered sea creatures, multi-colored woven roses, and unexpected shimmer of golden strings show an artist who is thoughtful about the detail this traditional handcraft allows. Written by contest judge Ariel Ackerly.