Washington D.C. art installation seeks to ‘Change Habits, Save Habitats’

World Land Trust (WLT) had an exciting start to 2024, with a week-long collaboration between artist LISA WOOD STUDIO in the form of an art installation called ‘SHIFT AND CONSERVE’. Placed outside the Washington D.C. National Mall, the art had a powerful intention; to inspire people to start the year with an act that had long-lasting and universal impact.

As the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, a public art installation was brought to life in the shadow of the Washington Monument. Blending contemporary art with sustainability, the installation’s title, “SHIFT AND CONSERVE: First Act, Forever Impact. Change Habits, Save Habitats”.

Reinterpreting American ideals for the 21st century

On a steel structure standing 11-foot high and 6.5-foot wide, a neon message was seen for seven days oscillating between the words, “Unconscious consumption, conscious conservation” and “Conscious consumption, unconscious conservation”. These phrases were chosen to illuminate the need for a shift in the collective mindset away from mindless consumption towards instinctual conservation. It also served as a symbol of people’s collective responsibility to protect the planet and those communities most vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis.

The installation was purposefully placed right at the end of the National Mall in Washington D.C, which is a central location in the city, close to the U.S. Capitol, the White House and the much revered Smithsonian museums. The Washington Monument is a 555-foot marble obelisk built to honour George Washington, the United States’ first president and by placing the SHIFT AND CONSERVE installation here it spoke directly to the need to reinterpret the American ideals of life and liberty through a 21st-century lens. “What does it mean to be free”, artist Lisa Wood asks, “when the very notion of freedom is inextricably linked to the health and sustainability of both our civilisation and planet?”


The art of conservation

Lighting up the hidden connections between everyday habits and global impacts, SHIFT AND CONSERVE empowered individuals to embrace a “we over me” perspective. More still, it sought to grasp the profound significance of people’s individual role in enabling a sustainable and harmonious world. “This project is an invitation to re-examine our relationship with the planet and take responsibility for the impact of our daily habits. By joining this conversation, we can collectively shift toward a future where sustainability and conservation are integral to our daily lives”, says Lisa.

Part of the exhibit involved engaging the audience in the work of WLT. In particular, Lisa wanted to highlight the impacts of WLT’s Buy an Acre programme. Habitat loss is the greatest threat facing wildlife worldwide. Buy an Acre supports WLT’s network of trusted conservation partners around the world to purchase wildlife-rich habitats and protect them in perpetuity. Donate to Buy an Acre today by clicking here.

Lisa Wood is an artist whose cross-disciplinary practice focuses on narratives of societal progress, purpose, and sustainability in the 21st century. Delving into themes of discomfort, displacement, and the focus of our attention, her work is influenced by over three decades of living next to one of the largest wilderness areas and few Dark Sky Reserves in the US. To learn more about her work, visit her website.

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