Have you ever been walking in your local park, the dog pulling hard on its leash, and caught a glimpse of an excited crowd in the distance? Most people have, and the crowd is usually clamoring to see an amazing art installation, milling around it with perplexed looks that sometimes turn to smiling acknowledgment once the concept is grasped. Most artistic displays based in nature have a purpose. Their purpose is to inform, educate, invoke and provoke. This is Eco-Art.
The Environmental Art Movement began way back in the 1960s, and continued on almost unnoticed until the 1980s, when education about the environment and its seemingly grim future was forced into focus. Issues like species extinction, pollution, and deforestation, pushed artists to promote greater awareness and start the renewal process around the globe. Artists began to use mediums that would inform and educate while using eco-friendly products like recycled junk. This surprised the mainstream public, and the response only encouraged the trend.
What exactly is Eco-Art? And who are the people behind it? Eco-Art can be split into four main categories:
Eco-art is exhibited daily all around you. Look at the lady holding the handbag made from old candy wrappers, or the man replacing his introduced plants with natives to encourage more wildlife in his garden. Your best friend who uses old CDs as a frame for his favourite picture. Eco-art isn’t just about recycling, it’s about pointing out that a sustainable future is an actual possibility. It’s about educating the masses in a fun, thought-provoking way.
This educational art changes with the times and with the issues that come to the forefront of society. Because of the growing number of followers and devotees, educational institutions and art schools are offering courses specifically tailored to the Eco-Art revolution. These courses teach artists to employ techniques to reach specific audiences, about the political and social science behind the environmental movement, and how to manage and promote their causes. Art has always had a powerful ability to effectively communicate important messages, and buying eco-art has the added advantage that it can become something great to hang on your wall. It is guilt-free spending because you are promoting earth-friendly awareness.
There are so many examples of Eco-Art, from sculptors that create nesting areas from recycled wood to photographers snapping landfill sites. Artists love free materials, especially if recycled from the local tip. Junk can be transformed into a lovely piece of art, this gives the old junk a new purpose and reduces landfill in the process. Nothing brings more publicity than a large scale exhibition in a public place. If it provokes thought and controversy about the environment, then it’s in the right place!
Some great artists have made their mark on the Eco-Art movement and encouraged others to follow suit. John Dahlsen uses recycled materials to produce active reflection, and also travels around the world to lecture and educate about environmental issues. Ann T. Rosenthal is an interpretive artist and employs research, documentation, and showcases with electronic media installations. Dr. Nien Schwarz is a well-educated conceptual artist and uses materials from the earth to promote the well-being of the earth. These are only three of the many established and emerging artists who should be hailed as heroes for using their talents to help save our earth.
All forms of environmental art, including collaborations between groups, communities, and individualslike scientists, educators, and artistshelp improve our working relationship with the environment and broaden the publics views as to what is beautiful, making the old new and aesthetically pleasing. Open your eyes and see what can be done around you, what pretty thing you can make from something you would normally throw out, what landscape you can repair by planting some beautiful trees, what difference you can make by entering the Eco-Art movement!