The environment is one of the most pressing issues facing our planet. The polar ice caps are melting, millennial forests are being eradicated, air pollution has reached alarming levels and entire species are going extinct. The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York is addressing these and other environmental issues in its current exhibit, “Between the Waters.” The show features chilling pieces by up-and-coming artists from across America, including Torkwase Dyson, Cy Gavin, Demian DinéYazhi´ with Ginger Dunnill, Lena Henke, Erin Jane Nelson and Carolina Caycedo. Through sculpture, painting and video, these artists attempt to illustrate how ideology and personal beliefs have a tremendous impact on all things living, even more so than architecture, industry and technology.

Demian DinéYazhi´, Rez Dog, Rez Dirt, 2013. Video, color, sound; 3:59 min. loop. Courtesy the artist

Carolina Caycedo used fishing nets given to her by fishermen in Colombia to explore how ecological damage has affected indigenous communities. Her nets hang from the museum ceiling – they’re painted white, red, orange – with candles, seeds, religious images and embroideries caught in their knots. They seem to offer a disturbing statement on the devastation wrought upon the oceans by human behavior.

Cy Gavin, one of the painters featured in the exhibit, uses water as his primary source of inspiration. He looked to his father’s native Bermuda to paint brilliantly hued maritime canvases that offer a powerful commentary on the Atlantic slave trade. Atlanta-based artist Erin Jane Nelson also uses the sea as her muse. She creates textile collages featuring strangely lifelike octopuses in a narrative about climate change.

The artists featured in the show attempt to use their own experiences to address environmental concerns that are global, showing how the political inevitably becomes the personal. Featured artist Torkwase Dyson explains that the exhibit is not just about “the way we connect… but understanding also the waters that are between us.”

“Between the Waters” is on view until July 22 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.