San Ygnacio, Texas

Winter 2021/2022

Conceived by Michael Tracy

Executed by Eliseo Garcia

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Climate Change is My Cross to Bear

While many people across Texas suffered loss of life and property due to a devastating winter storm in February 2021, the Botanical Gardens of the River Pierce Foundation suffered massive losses. The task of clearing out decades old specimens overwhelmed our small garden staff so that the clearing of dead cactus took months. Once cleared, the carcasses piled high and began to dry into cruel, gnarled cadavers, like the fingers of the Christ in Matias Grünewald's famous altarpiece in Colmar, France. Despite how dangerous the hardened, dead cacti were, a local artisan Eliseo Garcia crafted rescued pieces into wreaths at first (inspired by our live opuntia wreaths), then into elaborate Lenten Crosses. Below is a slide show of this semi-permanent public art installation which can be viewed on site in San Ygnacio as one drives or walks through town. They will remain indefinitely until they complete their own cycle of entropy, as a reminder that we all play a role in climate change and we are nearing the point of no return. People tend to think that the effects are in a distant future, but the human race has known for decades what would happen, and only recently have been informed by scientists that the effects are appearing much sooner than previously reported. While it is shameful to imagine that most adults feel that climate change is for a future generation to deal with, Pope Francis, in his second encyclical, Laudato Si, admonishes that "many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and eco-systemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited." In San Ygnacio, we will soon be those poor of which he speaks.