Blog / 2019 / Solastalgia

February 11, 2019

[video transcript]

Last year, I painted a polar bear to express my solastalgia, though at the time I didn’t yet know that term.

Over the years, I have encountered visual artists who have trouble creating work because of their solastalgia. Combined with a classic artistic lack of confidence, their anxiety about global warming leads them to believe that they don’t have the right to produce objects—viewing their art as just more trash that will ultimately pollute the Earth. I empathize with their struggle. I’ve had a hard time accepting that my life takes up space.

Still, my solastalgia doesn’t paralyze me completely because I firmly believe that, no matter what individuals may do to trash the Earth, our impact cannot compare to the daily ecological atrocities committed by corporations. Let’s get their greed in check first! Then, if we still feel like it’s fruitful, we can question whether or not artists are allowed to make objects.

figure in a hazmat suit surrounded by feathers
Gwenn Seemel
When People Tell Me Everything Is Going to Be Okay
acrylic on canvas
16 x 14 inches

When People Tell Me Everything Is Going to Be Okay is available for $1000 plus shipping—see all the artworks that are currently for sale. Prints and other arty items of the image are in my Redbubble shop.


It’s like any illness. It automatically becomes more manageable when you have a name for it. There might not be a cure or even a good treatment, but when you can name your discomfort you begin to feel a modicum of control.

For one thing, people stop looking at you like you’re some kind of hypochondriac. There’s a certain respect that comes with a nameable problem.

For another, a diagnosis often leads to community. When you know what to call your ailment, you get to meet other people who are going through the same thing.

So I’m going to say it loud and proud: my name is Gwenn and I’m solastalgic.

In fact, that’s what this painting is about. Solastalgia is the mental distress caused by environmental change, often associated with global warming. It’s the anxiety that stems from an awareness that corporate greed and a consumerist mindset are killing us. Solastalgia is incurable at this point, but I’m pretty sure that naming it is a step in the right direction, both for those who suffer from it and for the Earth.

This video is made with love and microdonations from my community!

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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