The Natural History Museum teamed up with frontline community leaders in the Gulf South and Appalachia to launch We Refuse To Die, a new multi-year, national environmental justice art collaboration connecting frontline fights to stop the ecological and public health harms of the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries.
The campaign recently debuted in the Pittsburgh region, in an exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art and at a cross-community gathering, featuring story and strategy-sharing, “toxic tours”, billboards, and the permanent installation of an Externality monument. Hand-carved from a tree killed in climate-fueled wildfires, it is one of dozens of these monuments being installed in ceremonies across the country, at sites of industrial harm.
We Refuse To Die
Across the country, Black, Latinx, Indigenous and poor white communities living near refineries, pipelines, fracking sites, and other polluting infrastructure experience disproportionate rates of asthma, rare cancers, and other terminal illness. In the western United States, wildfires cover communities in toxic smoke and ravage the more-than-human world, destroying homes and habitats. Forced to live in unlivable conditions, humans and other species are cast as the living dead.
With We Refuse to Die, the living dead speak back.
Incorporating visual art produced for both museum and outdoor exhibition, public rituals, gatherings within and across communities, and artistic visuals for performances, public hearings, and protest, this multi-year, multi-city project pushes back against the dominant representation of so-called “sacrifice zones” as sites of powerlessness and victimization.
In coalition with communities on the frontlines of climate and environmental justice struggles, We Refuse to Die forges new solidarities—across generations, species, and geographies, metabolizing grief into collective strength and community power.
New touring exhibition
“We Refuse to Die” was featured in an exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, PA, on display from August 2023 – January 2024. Iterations of the exhibition will be featured in other art institutions over the next few years, as the Externality monuments are also installed and on display outdoors, in fenceline communities across the country.