AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Texas progressive political group worked with a local artist to stage an Earth Day protest they hoped would make it hard for Gov. Greg Abbott to ignore.
Directly across the street from the Texas governor’s mansion, Claire Eby projected a collection of artwork Friday night onto the side of a large building on West 10th Street. She partnered with MOVE Texas, a grassroots mobilizing organization, in an artistic effort to call attention to climate change, the state’s electric grid and a desire for greener infrastructure investments.
“The message that we’re trying to send is that climate change is happening now,” Eby explained. “We need action now to either winterize our grid or to get fossil fuel industries to start transitioning to greener initiatives, because that’s very important. We want people to have jobs, but we also want people to have reliable energy sources.”
She described the display as “projection mapping,” which is a technique artists use to turn objects like buildings into surfaces for video projection. The three-story-tall display she put up Friday included people’s one-star Google reviews they left about the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s power grid manager, after the deadly winter storms in February 2021. She mixed in several other artists’ pieces, too.
“The art will display asking people to look into greener initiatives,” Eby said. “We’ll also be seeing a glitch effect sort of thing to show that ERCOT had a bit of a glitch in the system, and it had a major effect on a lot of people in the state.”
Texas legislators made reforming ERCOT one of their main priorities during the 2021 legislative session. Among the changes they approved, lawmakers made the grid manager require power plants to weatherize and maintain a larger margin of supply to prevent unexpected outages. The grid held steady during another, albeit less-severe freeze that happened in Texas earlier this year, and ERCOT issued no alerts at that time for people to take immediate steps to conserve power.
Critics, however, argue the state has not done enough to avoid what happened last February when the grid nearly collapsed. Eby said her projection mapping is an extension of that activism, adding Abbott will take away this message from what she showed on the side of the AT&T building.
“I hope that [Abbott] understands that Texans need help now, and that he has the power to help us,” Eby said. “We would really appreciate it if he could start working on greener initiatives, maybe winterizing the grid, understanding that it affects people, and that there’s several people who are having to go all the way to Google reviews just to have their voices heard. We want him to hear our voices, so I’m hoping that this is something he can’t look away at.”
KXAN reached out Friday afternoon to the governor’s office for comment about the protest and will update this story once a response is shared.
Abbott announced on Twitter he’ll light the governor’s mansion in blue Sunday night to recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month.