COAL + ICE: Inspiring Climate Action Through Art and Ideas

by Sycamore May

Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series

Name: COAL + ICE

What They Do: COAL + ICE is an immersive exhibition that utilizes photography and art to showcase the interconnectedness of coal production, climate change, and its impact on communities worldwide.

How They Do It: Through a blend of stunning photography and visual storytelling, COAL + ICE brings attention to the environmental consequences of our dependence on fossil fuels and its role in exacerbating the climate crisis. The exhibition creates a narrative arc, from the depths of coal mines to the melting glaciers of the Himalayas, demonstrating the urgent need for global collaboration to address climate change.

Mission: COAL + ICE is designed to visually demonstrate  the causes and consequences of the climate crisis and to put forth creative solutions.

Latest Project/Campaign: COAL + ICE premiered at the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing in 2011. Since that time, the exhibit has traveled across China and around the world, using art to highlight the need for collaboration between the largest global producers of carbon emissions– the U.S. and China – in order to address climate challenge. In 2018, COAL + ICE made its U.S. premiere at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture as a fully immersive experience, and expanded its imagery to visualize the global consequences of the climate crisis. The most recent presentation took place in a 30,000-square-foot purpose-built tent on the REACH Plaza of the  John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., in 2022. It will be on display at Asia Society Museum in New York City from February 13 to August 11, 2024. Speaker events, films, and other performances focused on the climate crisis will be featured throughout the run of the exhibition.

Asia Society has partnered with a network of more than thirty organizations across New York City’s five boroughs, including the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center, to concurrently present exhibitions and events, thereby expanding the conversation to inspire a broader awareness of how the climate crisis affects our global and local communities.

Major Funding: COAL + ICE is a project of Asia Society, which provides support and resources for its exhibitions and initiatives.

Profit/Nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: N/A

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: While COAL + ICE primarily focuses on the climate crisis and its broader environmental impacts, its efforts to raise awareness and foster dialogue about sustainable solutions align with other efforts to address interconnected issues within the food system, such as climate-resilient agriculture and food security.


  • Location: Travels across various locations globally
  • Number of Full Time Staff: N/A
  • Number of Volunteers: N/A
  • Areas Served: Global reach through exhibitions and an online presence
  • Year Started: 2011
  • Founder: COAL + ICE is co-curated by Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas and international exhibition designer Jeroen de Vries, and led by Orville Schell, Asia Society Vice President and Arthur Ross Director of Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations.

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