Catherine Sarah Young is a multi-diasporic artist who focuses on interactive storytelling and sensory experiences. Her background in art, science, and design informs most of her projects. To its core, it deals with human perception and the intersectionality between people and climate change, bringing attention to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for Climate Action.

"I aim to work towards a sustainable world. My interests deal with environmental issues and their related social concerns, often critiquing broken real-world systems and proposing alternative realities," Young said on her website

With a focus on climate crisis, The Apocalypse Project comes from its Greek etymology which means "unveiling" and deals with uncovering the human dimension of climate change through interdisciplinary artistic initiative. From preserving scents highly reminiscent of the Amazon to turning sewage and used fats into soap, the project sheds light on the different effects and possibilities of climate change. 

A perfumer in a future under climate change by Catherine Sarah Young. Image by The Apocalypse Project

Part of The Apocalypse Project is the collaborative art installation called Seawall Project, which revolves around the question, "What are our memories of this city [Manila, the capital of the Philippines], and what might we let go of to make it more habitable for its inhabitants?"

Manila's name is derived from "may nilad," which means having an abundance of "nilad," a type of mangrove scientifically known as scyphiphora hydrophyllacea. Due to being situated in the typhoon belt, the Philippines relies on mangroves to mitigate the effects of such and protect coastlines as well. Over the years, as urbanization and development continues, these mangroves tend to disappear. 

The Seawall Project by Catherine Sarah Young. Image by The Apocalypse Project.

In this installation, Young points out the reliance and overconsumption of natural resources which creates an imbalance through displaying soaps made out of sewer water, Amazon-scented perfumes, and flower masks in crates. She also utilized the concept of "balikbayan," boxes filled with foreign goods, to contain the collaborator's idea of the city. 

An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest explores the question, "What do we lose if we lose the Amazon?" By concocting a signature smell made out of the various flora and fauna, Young tries to preserve and invoke the sensations related to the Amazon. 

An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest by Catherine Sarah Young. Image by The Apocalypse Project. 

As the largest rainforest home to 40,000 plant species, 3,000 freshwater fish species, and more than 370 types of reptiles as well as over 30 million people, including 350 Indigenous and ethnic groups, the Amazon plays a pivotal role in balancing ecological systems. As of 2023, the Amazon is threatened by gold mining and deforestation, so it is highly vital to bring awareness to this cause. 

Another notable project Young started is The Sewer Soaperie wherein grease and sewer water are turned into luxury soaps as a statement on how cities cannot handle heavy rainfall and flooding. Grease from sinks and cooking oil, together with other debris, interrupts the flow of the water in the sewage and can result in flooding. As typhoons get stronger because of climate change, cities will have more difficulty dealing with water treatment and waste disposal. 

The Sewer Soaperie by Catherine Sarah Young. Image by The Apocalypse Project. 

From sewage engineers to soap artisans, Young worked with individuals coming from different fields. "As an artist, I embrace the freedom that comes with being able to mingle with people of all classes and backgrounds. Because of the richness of these many lives lived in many places, I have come to realize the common humanity in all of us and how art is a powerful tool to define a world we want to live in," expressed Young.  

"For me, art, science, and design can do together what one field alone cannot: to convey ideas coherently to another human being and inspire a change in mindset and behaviour," the artist added.   

The core of Young's work lies in challenging perceptions and inciting a change in mindset and human connection. With headstrong projects that tackle climate change, she unveils the human dimensions of these environmental issues. This then urges people to reconsider their connection with nature and prompts a dialogue on sustainability. 


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