Know Your Street Art: The Sixth Extinction

Earlier this year, scientists definitively announced that Earth was in the midst of a sixth mass die-off of the planet's species, this one induced by humans. The research paralleled Elizabeth Kolbert's 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Sixth Extinction. After reading Kolbert's tome, and a 2007 book called The World Without Us, which postulates a post-human world, Ricky Weisbroth originated an artwork that's now on a wall outside Project Artaud, the nonprofit Mission District arts complex that opened in 1971.

Weisbroth's art isn't a depressing shout-out. In fact, the mural's thousands of geometric lines — couched in three different shapes, one of them an animal — are almost architectural and abstract.

“I now have a very bleak image of the future,” says Weisbroth, 70, a founding member of Project Artaud who is a longtime writer and artist. “I hope it's obvious from the imagery that there's a progression in the extinction.”

Working from a small series of drawings, Weisbroth had 34 neighbors and friends put up the work in its larger dimensions — it's her first mural. Antonin Artuad, whose groundbreaking work in early 20th century France inspired Project Artaud, once said, “Hell is of this world.” From a previous project, Artaud's name, in red tile, overlooks Weisbroth's art. The artwork's commingling seems entirely appropriate.


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