Artist's Statement

Michael O. Snyder

Whether we recognize it or not, climate migration is already part of the American story. Millions have moved inland from hurricane pounded coastlines of the Gulf and thousands are now fleeing rising seas in the American Pacific. The communities that receive these migrants are changing too, reshaping the very cultural and political fabric of America. But what we are witnessing today is just the leading edge of an unprecedented wave of human migration that is yet to come: by the end of this century nearly 1 in 2 Americans will likely experience a significant decline in the quality of their environment. An estimated 4 – 13 million will be driven from their homes. Millions more will follow, ousted by floods, storm surges, and crumbling coasts. The age of the climate refugee has just begun.

Eroding Edges explores the rapidly changing lives and identities of American communities who are on the frontlines of climate change. While these communities are vastly different in geographic and cultural heritage, they share a tragic commonality: the land that they have called home for centuries will be wiped from the map in less than 50 years. While the project bears witness to unprecedented loss and hardship it also focuses on the quest for leadership on a rapidly warming planet, with an emphasis on courage and community driven solutions that are being implemented to preserve cultural identity and facilitate meaningful migration in the face of unprecedented change. The project explores the struggles of communities in the throes of great change and probe the intersections of race, culture, and climate chaos. What will these migrants let go of? What will they hold on to? How will they adapt to survive? What can they teach those who are yet to follow in their footsteps? And how can America prepare for the magnitude of what is yet to come?