Claudia Comte, Art, and Conversations Surrounding the Climate Crisis

The Swiss multi-medium artist will be featured in Art in Unexpected Places’ 19th season.

Artist Claudia Comte

In keeping with its bold and artful tradition, Aspen Snowmass will feature the works of world-renowned visual artist, Claudia Comte for the 2023-2024 season of Art in Unexpected Places. Also known as ArtUP, the program celebrates and exhibits art across the resort by partnering with different high-caliber artists each year. Most notably, new artwork is featured annually on Aspen Cards, lift tickets, and season passes, as well as showcased through creative outlets including installations on-mountain, in our hotels and restaurants, at special events, and through collaborative merchandising.

Throughout the 2023-2024 season, Comte’s artwork will live in the pockets of skiers and riders. Swiss-born Comte calls the mountains near Basel, Switzerland her home. As a multi-discipline artist with a B.A. in visual arts an M.A. in science of education, Comte works in installation, painting, engraving, murals, and sculpture. Her wood pieces depicting cactuses, for example, were created using her chainsaw.

The 2023-2024 ArtUP collection consists of five of Comte’s recent works, each offering a unique perspective on how we view the environment and climate crisis. Some are more subtle, like “Underwater Sculpture Park, Jamaica,” which depicts cactus sculptures on an ocean floor, or “10 Rooms, 40 Walls, 1059 m2,” showing a beautifully hand-crafted wooden cactus sculpture in a studio setting with a drawn fence, moon, and sun on the wall behind it.

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“Her art is both methodical and playful, and focuses on important underlying environmental factors.”

–Paula Crown
Artist, Curator of ArtUp and Co-Owner of Aspen Skiing Company

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Then, there are the bolder messages, like a diminishing iceberg floating in the ocean, cramped livestock, a trash-covered beach—all muted images with overlaid cartoon lettering reading “HaHaHaHa.” The cheeky caricature lettering combined with the natural settings offers a lightness juxtaposed to the topic being tackled: catastrophe. Are we able to enjoy the world while we are destroying it? Can we exist within these dualities? Deploying works that combine objects from the natural world with digital forms, Comte demonstrates the transformative capacity of the ecological world and challenges us to explore these questions.

“Through the ski passes, I weave art's tapestry into the very fabric of mountain adventure, where nature's serenity dances with the exhilaration of skiing,” says Comte. “In the playful embrace of cacti amid snow-kissed slopes, I beckon you to explore the unexpected.”

“Her art is both methodical and playful, and focuses on important underlying environmental factors,” says artist Paula Crown, co-owner of Aspen Skiing Company and leading voice in curating the ArtUP program.

Fighting climate change has been a central mission of Aspen Snowmass’ sustainability efforts for more than two decades. “The vast majority of rational people understand that climate change is real, that it is driven by fossil-fuel emissions, and that we need to do something about it,” says Michael Miracle, Aspen Skiing Company’s director of community engagement. “But it’s that ‘doing something about it’ piece that we continue to struggle with as a society. Claudia’s art can help shake people out of their complacency. Her ‘An Impending Disaster (HaHaHa)’ series strikes me as a particularly on-tone reminder. Only a maniacally cackling lunatic could think climate change anything but deadly serious at this point.”

The mountains are a canvas, and laying wide, arcing turns is an artful form of expression, itself—and a fleeting one, if we refuse to consider the questions Comte poses. This season, Comte is not only decorating your passes and lift tickets, but also encouraging a deeper conversation on the chairlift. As a result, perhaps meaningful change can occur beyond our mountain setting.

“Here, I spark reflection on our evolving world and the fragile ecosystems we tread upon,” added Comte. “Challenging your perception, urging you to confront the vast implications of climate change, rendering this collaboration not just visually captivating but also a profound meditation on the soul of our planet.”

The exhibit of Claudia Comte’s work at Aspen Snowmass will run through September 2024.

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