AUSTIN (KXAN) — A progressive political group in Texas worked with a local artist to organize an Earth Day protest that they hoped would make it hard for Gov. Greg Abbott to ignore.
Directly across from the Texas Governor’s mansion, Claire Eby projected a collection of artwork Friday night onto the side of a tall building on West 10th Street. She partnered with MOVE Texas, a grassroots mobilization organization, in an artistic effort to draw attention to climate change, the state’s power grid, and the desire for investments in greener infrastructure.
“The message we’re trying to send is that climate change is happening now,” Eby explained. “We need to act now to winterize our grid or get the fossil fuel industries to start transitioning to greener initiatives because that’s very important. We want people to have jobs, but we also want people to have reliable sources of energy.
She described the exhibition as “projection mapping,” which is a technique used by artists to transform objects like buildings into surfaces for video projection. The three-story display she put up on Friday included people’s one-star Google reviews they left on the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s power grid operator, after the deadly winter storms of February 2021. She mixed several other artists’ pieces too.
“The art will display asking people to look into greener initiatives,” Eby said. “We’ll also see some sort of glitch effect to show that ERCOT had a little glitch in the system, and it had a major effect on a lot of people in the state.”
Texas lawmakers have made ERCOT reform one of their top priorities in the 2021 legislative session. Among the changes they approved, lawmakers asked the grid operator to require power plants are weatherproofed and maintain a greater margin of supply to avoid unplanned outages. The network held steady during another, albeit less severe, freeze that occurred in Texas earlier this year, and ERCOT issued no alerts at that time for people to take immediate action to save energy.
Critics, however, argue the state hasn’t done enough to avert what happened last February when the network nearly collapsed. Eby said her projection mapping is an extension of that activism, adding that Abbott will remove that message from what she showed on the side of the AT&T building.
“I hope that [Abbott] understands that Texans need help now and he has the power to help us,” Eby said. “We would really appreciate if he could start working on greener initiatives, maybe winterize the network, understanding that it affects people and that many people have to go all the way to Google reviews just to get their voices heard. want him to hear our voices, so hopefully that’s something he can’t look away from.
KXAN reached out to the governor’s office on Friday afternoon for comment on the protest and will update this story once a response is shared.
Abbott announced on Twitter that he would light the Governor’s mansion blue on Sunday evening to mark Child Abuse Prevention Month.