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Boise High student promotes art for climate awareness, thanks to Jane Fonda

Posted at 8:08 PM, May 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-02 22:08:34-04

BOISE, Idaho — A celebrity offering to pay for your schooling sounds like a dream, but it's the reality for a Boise High student who channeled his education into a climate-focused art exhibition.

After discovering their school did not offer classes on climate change, a group of Boise High students reached out to an unexpected resource – Jane Fonda.

According to Idaho Education News, the students wanted to take a college-level environmental studies course this year but could not afford the $1,200 each needed to enroll.

Related: Idaho youth call for climate justice, fish preservation at Statehouse rally

Fonda, an award-winning actress and longtime activist agreed to cover the cost for all nine BHS students.

"I was really blown away by what they are doing and where my simply agreeing to cover their class cost has led," Fonda wrote in an online blog post. "These are smart, very impressive students and now it's clear: They're becoming activists!! They're putting their concerns into action."

The actress later called the students through Zoom to hear their pitches for climate change projects they created through the course. In the video published by the Idaho Statesman, Fonda was overwhelmed by the students' work.

"You are stellar. You are amazing and smart and inventive," Fonda said. "If there is a way I can help, keep letting me know, keep in touch."

Ben Bingham, 16, was one of the nine students who received funding from Fonda. As part of his final project for the course, Bingham organized a collaborative art exhibition shown at the Minus Plus Studio in Downtown Boise.

"I wanted to create an art exhibit that can allow people to explore climate change in a familiar way," Bingham said. "Rather than graphs and numbers."

The exhibit, Art for Climate Change, received more than 100 submissions from Idaho students in Junior High, High School and College. Bingham said people could view student art pieces online.

Bingham, also part of local youth-led climate justice groups, said he often sees activists "become a broken record and talk to the same people." His goal through the exhibit was to bring people together and look for effective climate change solutions.

"Looking at it in a way where it is art, poetry, or even climate stories — something everyone can connect to — then it doesn't matter what you believe in...Everyone can connect," Bingham said. "When you start having that conversation, the more people you have onboard and the more you can see change."

Related: Twin Falls public art wall provides a new space for street artists