It’s Earth Day everyone – a day established to inspire awareness and appreciation for the earth and our environment. Founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in in 1970, Earth day is now celebrated on April 22nd in almost every country around the globe.
In celebration of Earth Day 2011, DAF presents five artists whose work raises awareness about our relationship with the earth and/or use materials and resources in an eco-friendly way to create their art.
First, what is environmental art? According to GreenMuseum.org, eco-art is “in a general sense, it is art that helps improve our relationship with the natural world. Some environmental art:
- Informs and interprets nature and its processes, or educates us about environmental problems.
- Is concerned with environmental forces and materials, creating artworks affected or powered by wind, water, lightning, even earthquakes.
- Re-envisions our relationship to nature, proposing new ways for us to co-exist with our environment.
- Reclaims and remediates damaged environments, restoring ecosystems in artistic and often aesthetic ways.
And now the artists:
Lynne Hull has pioneered “trans-species” art, creating sculpture installations as wildlife habitat enhancement, eco-atonement for human impact. She works from the belief that artist creativity can be effectively applied to the urgent situations we face today. Her sculpture and installations provide shelter, food, water or space for wildlife, as eco-atonement for their loss of habitat to human encroachment. Hull’s current projects link communities from Canada to South America through our shared wildlife.
Most of Hull’s artworks function in the temporal gap between the time reclamation of damaged sites begins and the time nature recovers.Her client list includes hawks, eagles, pine martin, osprey, owls, spider monkeys, salmon, butterflies, bees, frogs, toads, newts, bats, beaver, songbirds, otter, rock hyrax, small desert species, waterfowl and occasional humans. Visit Eco-Art.org to learn more.
Scott Marr uses natural pigments collected from the bush and farmlands including ochres, bark, charcoal, sap, flowers, berries, and the medium of fire to burn drawings (pyrography) onto paper and wood. Based on a love for drawing, Marr’s artwork looks into the world of what he calls “bio metamorphics” symbiosis, energy, or the “alchemy of nature”.
In 2008, Marr won a Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize for his work “We Eat What We Are”. “We eat what we are reveals a creature that is made up of elements of its environment – it is both dependent on and crucial to its ecosystem. The title also alludes to the human tendency to diminish ourselves by eating away at the very environments we depend upon.”
Jason deCaires Taylor gained international recognition for creating the world’s first underwater sculpture park in Grenada, West Indies. His underwater sculptures, designed to create artificial reefs for marine life to colonise and inhabit, embrace the transformations wrought by ecological processes. The works engage with a vision of the possibilities of a sustainable future, portraying human intervention as positive and affirmative. Drawing on the tradition of figurative imagery, the aim of Jason de Caires Taylor’s work is to address a wide-ranging audience crucial for highlighting environmental issues beyond the confines of the art world. However, fundamental to understanding his work is that it embodies the hope and optimism of a regenerative, transformative Nature.
The sculptures are sited in clear shallow waters to afford easy access by divers, snorkellers and those in glass-bottomed boats. Viewers are invited to discover the beauty of our underwater planet and to appreciate the processes of reef evolution. To see more, visit UnderwaterSculpture.com.
Jean-Paul Ganem’s agricultural compositions are found where art is least expected. One of his notable pieces transformed a dumping ground into a field of dynamic wedges of color. The project site contained human waste, and was punctuated by emission pipes from a gas plant nearby. Together with an army of volunteers Ganem cleaned up the site and turned it into something else entirely.
“The colourful land markings and motifs overlap, with varying circular dimensions and shapes. ‘Le Jardin des Capteurs’ introduces the notion that sites for human waste, the detritus of our urban consumer society, can be recycled and beautified as sites, just as the goods and waste that end up there can be.” To see more, visit JPGanem.com.
Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison: Among the leading pioneers of the eco-art movement, the collaborative team of Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison have worked for almost forty years with biologists, ecologists, architects, urban planners and other artists to initiate collaborative dialogues to uncover ideas and solutions which support biodiversity and community development. The Harrison’s concept of art embraces a breathtaking range of disciplines. They are historians, diplomats, ecologists, investigators, emissaries and art activists.
Past projects have focused on watershed restoration, urban renewal, agriculture and forestry issues among others. The Harrisons’ visionary projects have often led to changes in governmental policy and have expanded dialogue around previously unexplored issues leading to practical implementations throughout the United States and Europe. To see more, visit TheHarrisonStudio.net.