Forum: Art + Environmental Advocacy At The Newport Art Museum

Jul 9, 2018

What does the future hold for environmental advocacy under the Trump administration? What role can art play in starting conversations about the environment? Can we make progress on climate change, ocean plastics and other pressing environmental issues?


Those are just a few of the questions we ask our panelists, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI); Save the Bay Executive Director Jonathan Stone; and artist Joan Hall in this conversation, recorded in front of a live audience at the Newport Art Museum, and moderated by RIPR's environment reporter, Avory Brookins.

The forum was inspired by the work of exhibiting artist Joan Hall, whose exhibition "Sea of Heartbreak" is on view at the Newport Art Museum through July 29th.

About the panelists:

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

In the United States Senate, Sen. Whitehouse has earned a reputation as a fierce advocate on climate change and the health of our oceans, among other issues. 

A graduate of Yale University and the University of Virginia School of Law, Whitehouse served in senior roles in state government before his appointment by President Bill Clinton as Rhode Island’s United States Attorney in 1994.  He was elected Attorney General of Rhode Island in 1998, and in 2006 to the Senate, where he serves on the Finance Committee; the Judiciary Committee, the Environment and Public Works Committee and the Budget Committee.

He and his wife Sandra, a marine biologist and environmental advocate, live in Newport.  They have two children.

Joan Hall, Artist

Known for her large-scale installations of primarily handmade paper that is combined with mixed media with an emphasis on glass and steel, Joan Hall is known for her innovation approaches to materials and process.

Her work has been exhibited at international museums and galleries that include: The Brooklyn Museum of Art, St. Louis Art Museum, Leopold-Hoesch Museum, Germany, Newport Art Museum, Museum of Nebraska Art, Walton Arts Center, Silkeborg Art Center, Denmark, The Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, The Rijswijk Museum, Holland and the Appledoorn Museum, Holland.

Hall is an Emerita Professor at Washington University in St. Louis where she taught printmaking and sculpture and currently is a visiting critic in the graduate program at the Rhode Island School of Design. 

Jonathan Stone, Executive Director of Save the Bay

Jonathan Stone joined Save The Bay in early 2009 as the organization’s fourth executive director.  After growing up in suburban Boston and spending summers on Buzzards Bay, he first moved to Rhode Island in 1976 to attend Brown University, before going on to earn an MBA at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business Administration and begin a finance career in Seattle and Boston. His love of the sea brought him to back to the Ocean State in 1989, when he promptly joined Save The Bay as a member and swimmer.

Like many Rhode Islanders, Jonathan has always enjoyed a deep connection to the Bay, where he regularly swims, kayaks and fishes. During his tenure, Save The Bay has successfully challenged infrastructure projects, sounded the alarm on changing climate conditions, completed dozens of habitat restoration projects, expanded Save The Bay’s environmental education programs, and strengthened its financial foundation.

Avory Brookins, Environment Reporter for Rhode Island Public Radio

Avory Brookins started as Rhode Island Public Radio's environment reporter in April 2017.  Before joining the station, she was a general assignment reporter at Wisconsin Public Radio. Previously she reported on health, science and the community for Philadelphia's public radio station, WHYY.

Avory is a Philadelphia native and proud Temple Owl.

When she's not reporting on the environment, she loves listening to K-pop, watching K-dramas, and researching Korean culture.

About the Newport Art Museum

Founded in 1912, The Newport Art Museum is one of the oldest continuously operating art museums and schools of its kind in the country. 

The museum operates on a three-building campus, the main building being National Historic landmark, the John N.A. Griswold House. It was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, completed in 1864 and remains the premier example of American "Stick-Style" architecture. Richard Morris Hunt went on to design Marble House, The Breakers, Ochre Court, Belcourt Castle, and other landmarks in Newport and New York, including the base for the Statue of Liberty.

The Museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, Thursdays April – December until 7 pm, Sunday from noon to 5 pm, and from 10 am to 9 pm every second Thursday of the month for the Art After Dark programming. The Museum is closed to the public on Mondays.