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EcoArts Connections 




Indigenous Photography Exhibition at NCAR Chronicles Lived Experiences of Climate Change


BOULDER, CO – The groundbreaking Indigenous photography exhibition Preserving Our Place: Knowledge is Power opens to the public Thursday, June 1st at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Mesa Lab in Boulder. 


Its opening will be held in conjunction with the Rising Voices Center for Indigenous and Earth Sciences’ annual workshop, which brings together a multi-generational network of Indigenous, tribal and community leaders, atmospheric, social, biological, and ecological scientists, students, educators, and experts from around the world, organizing through an intercultural approach to address and understand extreme weather events and climate change. The exhibition runs through Sunday, August 20th. 


Preserving Our Place: Knowledge is Power is a first-of-its-kind exhibition, featuring the importance of culture and lifeways and the consequences of the climate crisis. It celebrates the work of two Indigenous photographers: Chantel Comardelle, Tribal Executive Secretary of the Jean Charles Choctaw Nation, Louisiana and Dennis Davis, community artist of the Native Inupiat Village, Shishmaref, Alaska. Additional photography was taken by and/or is provided courtesy of Pete Mueller, Nathan Jessee, and Thomson Reuters.


The collaborative exhibition illustrates the devastating effects of climate change on their native, coastal homes – of sea level rise encroaching upon Isle de Jean Charles and of global warming melting ice breaks and permafrost in Shishmaref, which is causing roads to crumble and homes to fall into the sea.  The exhibition includes 52 archival print 11x17” contemporary and historical photographs. 


Among the many reasons why Preserving Our Place is such a significant exhibit is its creation by Indigenous artists and their lived experiences of being from communities in the US most affected by climate change now– and not in some distant future. “I am so excited to share the voice of our tribal community in this exhibit,” said Comardelle. “The fight frontline communities are facing every day is real. Our hope is to share this story with everyone.”

The initial Preserving Our Place project was begun as a means to preserve the culture – the traditions, history, and knowledge – of people and place, and elevating the voices of the tribal members to tell their own story. Preserving Our Place emphasizes the knowledge of land and place-based identities and values. Its goal is to demonstrate to the greater public the importance of preserving places most threatened by the climate crisis and centering the voices of those living through those impacts, today, and their fight to protect their culture, lands, and ways of life. 


The exhibit was originally co-curated by Lundyn Herring, Director of Visual Arts with the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, and Comardelle.


The Preserving Our Place exhibit at the NCAR Mesa Lab is co-presented thanks to a collaboration of six partnering programs and organizations: Rising Voices, the UCAR Center for Science Education, the National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (NCAR/UCAR), EcoArts Connections, Open Studios, and the Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN). It is made possible in part thanks to funding and/or in-kind support from these partners, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Science Foundation (NSF) award #1921045  


For more information about seeing the exhibit at the NCAR Mesa Lab, visit  or call 303.497.1000


The NCAR Mesa Lab is located at 1850 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, CO 80305


For more information about the exhibit online, visit

About the Primary Photographers


Chantel Dolphin Lady Comardelle has a deep passion for her community and culture. She is a wife, mother, archival and historical researcher, grant writer, photographer, and Tribal Secretary of the Jean Charles Choctaw Nation, off the coast of Louisiana, which has been nearly completely evacuated due to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise.  Her current areas of focus include Federal Recognition, Tribal Resettlement and the Preserving Our Place Movement, including the co-curation and creation of the “Preserving Our Place” exhibit. As a lifelong bayou resident, Chantel seeks to positively impact her community for future environmental, economic, and cultural sustainability. 


Education has always been important to Chantel’s Tribal community, something which for many years her people were denied. Chantel is a first generation college graduate with a Bachelor of General Studies from Nicholls State University. In 2016, she started the Certificate of Museum Studies Program from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) to learn new archival and conservation skills to help the Tribe preserve their culture in light of their current environmental crisis. 


Chantel is now in her second year as a Master Student at IAIA in Cultural Administration. It is her hope that the knowledge she gains will help thrust the Tribe through the Federal Recognition process and finally reach their collective goal of acceptance.


Dennis Davis is a self-taught Inupiat photographer who has been taking pictures and videos of the western coastline of Alaska for over 20 years. He uses an Inupiat vision of the connections between land, animals, and people to create new forms of photography and video that offer a glimpse into the subsistence lifestyle. Dennis’s goal is to show others what his culture is all about; to highlight the risks that Arctic peoples face with the coming of climate change; and to give a voice to his people.


About the Co-Presenting Partners


EcoArts Connections brings the arts together with science, social justice, Indigenous, and other ways of knowing to inspire people to live more sustainably – environmentally, economically, socially/culturally, and personally through performances, exhibits, talks, classes, workshops, convenings, gardens, youth programs, and other activities and events.   


LiKEN (Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network) is a network for scholarly/community collaboration to build economic futures based on local assets, values, and vision. We believe that people understand their own places, environments, and communities in ways that are essential to good public policy and good science. As a link-tank, we connect local knowledge with specialized expertise. 



The NSF National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) undertakes actionable Earth system science with and for society in order to address the grand environmental challenges of our time.  The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) is a nonprofit consortium of 122 North American universities. UCAR manages NCAR on behalf of NSF.  

Open Studios is a Boulder County-focused non-profit organization working to advance the visual arts and the role of artists in our community. We provide free art activities for the general public, outreach programs for the schools and underserved communities, and services that help working artists prosper. 


The Rising Voices Center for Indigenous and Earth Sciences (Rising Voices) facilitates opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous scientific experts and community leaders to jointly address how extreme weather and climate events are impacting communities and to develop action plans. Rising Voices aspires to advance science through the collaborations of Indigenous and Earth (atmospheric, social, biological, ecological) sciences, along with an intercultural approach to addressing and understanding extreme weather events. 

The UCAR Center for Science Education amplifies and complements the work of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), developing state-of-the-art educational experiences that connect NCAR|UCAR science to diverse learners, creating pathways towards a scientifically literate society. 


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