November 2 – December 6, 2023

Within the Anthropocene: A Thought-Provoking Exhibition by Karen Bright

The Center for the Visual Arts CVA Gallery at Brookdale Community College exhibition, “Within the Anthropocene,” featured the works of acclaimed artist Karen Bright.

“Within the Anthropocene” showcased diverse artistic mediums, including encaustic, fresco, sculpture, and graphic design, all created by the talented Karen Bright, a professor emerita at Monmouth University.

The exhibition opened with a powerful series of post-Sandy infographic prints derived from data sourced from organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, and the United States Naval Observatory. These prints serve as a stark representation of climate change, its regional legacy, and its impact on our planet.

Two of Karen Bright’s paintings included in the exhibition, “After the Elephants” and “Monarch,” delve into issues related to mass extinctions driven by human activities, addressing the urgent need to protect biodiversity. Additionally, her sculptural series – “Still Water,” created specifically for this exhibition – explores the multifaceted nature of water, both as essential giver of life and as primary player during extreme weather events.

The exhibition aimed to provide visitors with a space for reflection and contemplation about the challenges our world faces in the 21st century, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and the Anthropocene epoch. It encourages viewers to expand their imagination and consider new, sustainable interrelationships between humans, nature, and our planet.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the CVA Gallery will hosted a series of events and programming, including an encaustic workshop for Brookdale students, followed by a public encaustic demonstration by Karen Bright, and a closing event featuring a “Living Room Conversation on the Anthropocene.”

Woman with grey hair wearing a zip up sweater near the water.The artist, Karen Bright, shared her inspiration for the exhibition: “My work is enlivened by my deep connection to nature and informed by my personal experiences with our shared climate crisis. The living environment — with particular focus on ocean ecosystems — has offered a consistent well of inspiration for my work over many decades. In terms of aesthetics, my work draws energy from the use of color to inform narrative and from the use of texture — with pieces that are repeatedly scraped and fused together — to create added depth and meaning. ‘Within the Anthropocene’ is an opportunity to expand our imagination and provoke thoughtful dialogue about how we can spur innovative, sustainable, and equitable solutions to safeguard the health and prosperity of our communities—and to protect our planet.”

This thought-provoking exhibition and its associated events collectively explored the critical issues of our time through the lens of art.

Karen Bright
Within the Anthropocene

November 2 – December 6

Opening Reception with Karen Bright, November 2, 2023 from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Light bites and live music from RockIT

WITHin the ANTHROPOCENE Events and Programming

Zen Meditation for Planet and Personal Healing
Nov. 9,  12:00 – 1:00 pm 

In anticipation of International Education Week and in connection with the Global Citizenship Project’s wellness theme the CVA Gallery partnered with the BCC Wellness Center and the Cold Mountain Zen/Sangha to offer a community Zen Meditation for Planet and Personal Healing.


Monarch by Karen BrightEncaustic Workshop for Brookdale students
Nov. 16, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Encaustic Demo and Artist Talk with Karen Bright
Nov. 16, 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

The events was made possible by the Visiting Artist Fund, a grant from CCOG, and support from Brookdale’s Art and Design Departments in the Humanities Institute.

STEM Institute lecture “What is the Anthropocene?”
November 30, Thursday, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

BCC Geology Adjunct Professor Tim Macaluso gave a lecture guided by student questions crowd-sourced by CVA Gallery Interns and Assistants to help us separate fact from fiction and better understand what the Anthropocene is and what that means for our future.

Closing Event

Living Room conversation on the Anthropocene
Dec. 5, Tuesday, 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m.

Mapping the room and collectively imagining action plans and ways of thinking/being.


Within the Anthropocene included encaustic, fresco, sculpture and graphic design work by Monmouth University professor emerita Karen Bright.

This exhibit opened with very literal representations of climate change through a series of infographic prints derived from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, and the United States Naval Observatory data. Climate change is only one among many of the changes we are grappling with in the 21st century. As we often have in challenging times, we need the arts to help expand our consideration of these changes.

StillWater Within by Karen BrightBright’s encaustic work, such as After the Elephants and Monarch, address issues related to, but categorically different than, climate change, such as the increasing rate of mass extinction events due to the actions of humans. Her sculptural series, Still Water, created specifically for this exhibit, investigates ideas of water as the source and a great destroyer of life. All challenging pieces, but necessary for our time and future.

With this exhibit, we aimed to create a space, and the possibility, that we can learn to live with these difficult ideas in a way that can help us foster a warranted sense of hope. A Community Healing Room was incorporated in the gallery during this exhibit. It was offered as a respite, a place for reflection about how we imagine the health of the planet, our bodies and minds. We can see similar practices in the Hall of Remembrance that James Ingo Freed designed for the U.S. Holocaust Museum; The Contemplative Court in the National Museum of African American History and Culture; and the Brooklyn Museum’s Healing Room designed by their teen staff for the immigration focused exhibit Guadalupe Maravilla: Tierra Blanca Joven.

Within the Anthropocene explored the opportunity to expand our imagination to consider a new, just and sustainable interrelationship between nature, planet, humans, non-human animals.

Karen Bright Bio and website.