Theory and Practice

In the first “issue” of this collaborative project between artist Rachel Simmons and writer Julian Chambliss, we meet our hero Future Bear as she prepares to leave the future for the past.

Rachel Simmons created the Future Bear piece during a 2008 workshop at Anderson Ranch with Kansas City printmaker Hugh Merrill. At the time, Simmons was experimenting with combining digital and traditional approaches to image-making. She was also just months away from her first visit to Antarctica. Reading the epic adventures of explorers like Shackleton, Amundsen and Scott, Simmons found herself enthralled with grand narratives and heroic figures facing life or death challenges.

"When Future Bear emerged in my sketchbook, I immediately liked the idea of a similar type of hero, one that seemed to be lifted from the pages of an adventure/ sci-fi comic, but whose narrative had to be invented by the viewer. After a few more works featuring Future Bear and a TEDx talk in which I described the polar bear as a visual symbol for global climate change, I became interested in expanding the Future Bear pieces into an expanded narrative. My colleague, Julian Chambliss, an urban historian and comic authority who also presented at TEDx Orlando in 2010, saw an opportunity to write his first comic script. Both of us were intrigued by the possibilities of a collaboration in which he provided the story and I provided the images."  -- Rachel Simmons
As the story grows, the commentary on past and present environmental debates are interwoven into the story.  Future Bear is an interdisciplinary exploration of conservation, planning, regulation, corporatism, consumerism, and sustainability debates.  At the same time, this project bridges the gap between the history of those concerns and contemporary questions about environmental stewardship.