ART IN THE NAME OF NATURE

A NEW WAVE OF "ARTIVISTS"!

The arts are being increasingly recognised as a resource for transformative change. Despite the challenges, the arts community believes that climate and environmental action offers opportunities to the arts, and that the arts can offer unique opportunities for a green, just and inclusive transition. Art in the name of nature looks at protecting nature, a muse for artists, by taking creative action and finding creative, transformative, engaging ways to raise awareness on climate change.

 

By using eco-arts as a form of communication, young people can easily recognise elements of learning and understanding and work actively towards making cultural changes for the better of society. Art is also beneficial to one's mental health, creates community, and is a tool often used by the voiceless to express their mission and incite change.

 

What is Eco-Art and Who are Eco-Artists?

Ecological art and environmental art are sometimes used interchangeably with eco art, but they have some differences. Ecological art is more focused on the natural phenomena and permaculture existences, while environmental art is more concerned with environmental injustice and health hazards. At the heart of eco and environmental art are artists who are concerned about local and global environmental situations.

 

Eco-Artists have one common and specific goal in mind: bringing environmental concern to the front of people's minds in a bid to save the planet and prevent further degradation, resulting in climate change. Whether artists address pollution (plastic, chemical, light, noise, soil, air) deforestation, emissions, destruction of natural habitats, land grabbing, loss of native practices, rising sea level, biodiversity loss, climate injustice, and much more – the central theme is the same. Our planet is dying, and humans are both the cause, and the solution. When we create art inspired by this purpose, we hope to show others in our community and wider communities, the destruction we are complicit in and the means to mitigate further risks.

 

 

 

What is Eco-Art and Who are Eco-Artists?

Ecological art and environmental art are sometimes used interchangeably with eco art, but they have some differences. Ecological art is more focused on the natural phenomena and permaculture existences, while environmental art is more concerned with environmental injustice and health hazards. At the heart of eco and environmental art are artists who are concerned about local and global environmental situations.

 

Eco-Artists have one common and specific goal in mind: bringing environmental concern to the front of people's minds in a bid to save the planet and prevent further degradation, resulting in climate change. Whether artists address pollution (plastic, chemical, light, noise, soil, air) deforestation, emissions, destruction of natural habitats, land grabbing, loss of native practices, rising sea level, biodiversity loss, climate injustice, and much more – the central theme is the same. Our planet is dying, and humans are both the cause, and the solution. When we create art inspired by this purpose, we hope to show others in our community and wider communities, the destruction we are complicit in and the means to mitigate further risks.

Singer-Songwriters, Billie Eilish and FINNEAS use their song lyrics and music to raise awareness among their fans. Music is also used to engage activists with a common goal. Fridays for Futures have even curated a playlist of songs on Spotify for Spotify’s ‘Climate Action’ genre.

 

As people become more and more environmentally conscious and educated on the climate crisis, the movement of eco art has had an increasing audience. Although artists have played a fundamental role in environmental activism and advocacy for a very long time, it has only recently become entrenched in public and artistic consciousness.

What can I do to become an Eco-Artist?

If you’re an artist, and looking for ways to engage more with eco-art you could begin by:

  • Bringing environmental themes into your artistic practices.
  • Swap unsustainable materials for more sustainable alternatives or create a more sustainable material for other artists.
  • Create art in nature i.e. Green space project which highlights the impact of climate change or creating music using sound energy from nature.
  • Collect your waste and repurpose it in your work.
  • If you have a studio or work in a rented studio, investigate ways to reduce the environmental impact of the space and aim to create change to improve the building's emissions.
  • Join or form a community of other artists with a shared interest in climate action and climate justice.
  • Engage with a community of artists who are interested in protecting and highlighting nature.
  • Work with a local school to create a piece of artwork with younger students.
  • Develop a community art project and seek funding for its implementation.

Eco-Art and Eco-Anxiety?

How does news about the climate crisis make you feel? Grim news about climate change easily triggers a sense of helplessness among people. Young people are particularly susceptible to these negative emotions. The American Psychology  Association refers to this as “ecoanxiety“ and cites a trio of disastrous symptoms: helplessness, fatalism, and resignation. This is what a lot of us feel. We may not put a name to it, but a sure sign of ecoanxiety is the humourless tone of environmental discourse.

 

Eco-Anxiety presents a challenge – we want to engage in actions that aim to understand, communicate, and reverse the impacts of the climate crisis, but taking action requires us to hold consistent excitement or motivation for change. We can become easily depleted of interest and motivation when we are faced with grim news, climate deniers, negative news in the media, and slow moving change sometimes not measurable on a quantitative level. Climate activism can sometimes feel isolating, draining, and never ending. On top of all these climate related challenges, we must first address the challenge of overcoming disengagement caused by eco-anxiety. Art can help redirect that feeling into one of active engagement.

 

“Art is really helpful for processing difficult feelings because it activates the imagination and it allows us to sit with our feelings, acknowledge our feelings, and then transform our feelings.” says Chelsea Call, an art therapist, educator, and interdisciplinary artist who helps individuals address stress related to the climate crisis. “It also allows us to look at different possibilities for the future, to reimagine what we want the future to look like.”

 

 

German visual artist Liina Klauss transforms beach trash into colourful installations to bring attention to humans’ influence on the natural world. Ten years ago, Klauss went camping with her family at a beach in Hong Kong only to find the area littered with trash.

 

“In that moment, I felt shock, devastation, sadness, and disappointment, and just being overwhelmed by the impact of human action,” she says. “I just went into my mode of perception of seeing only colours and automatically my mood shifted and I could get out of that blame and shame, out of accusing humanity, of accusing myself, and I could let creativity flow. That was incredibly relieving and I could see that I had found a way to overcome the shock.” She continues to make bright, colourful art pieces from found trash. For her larger installations, she enlists the help of volunteers for debris collection. As a result, volunteers gain a deeper understanding of climate issues like pervasive ocean trash and can connect with others who may also be struggling with eco-anxiety.

 

Prioritising your mental health and working through difficult emotions isn’t easy. But taking those small steps to tap into and process your feelings is, in itself, a form of climate action and resilience.

 

What is out there already?

  • The EU Green Deal and Live Performance Organisations is a practical brochure created by Pearle and EFA which explains the principles of the EU Climate Goals and will help you identify Green Deal initiatives that are relevant to the live performance sector. Covering all fields from the circular economy to energy-related questions, sustainable mobility schemes and green funding strategies, this booklet will become your best companion for a greener future.
  • Green Arts Initiative provides Irish arts organisations with the resources and support to help build a green Irish arts community. The Green Arts Initiative has produced a number of useful resources for the sector including a Guide to Energy, Guide to Creating a Green Team and Guide to Environmental Policies.
  • Julie’s Bicycle Creative Climate Tools are a free set of unique carbon calculators developed by Julie’s Bicycle specifically for the creative industries. The Creative Climate Tools allow you to measure your energy use, water consumption, waste generation and recycling, travel and production materials and produce results to inform your environmental strategy and organisational priorities.

 

Call to Action

For some of us who worry that we are not artistic enough to engage in eco-art, the artistic community welcomes us in many ways:

  • Engage with eco art by viewing, immersing, sharing, supporting, or volunteering to help with installations.
  • Pick up a new hobby by engaging in eco-art! Remember art is for everyone and there are many and forms of expressing yourself, your interests, and your concerns through artistic modes.
  • Join or form a community of eco-artists in your area.
  • Invite artists to display their work in your community through exhibitions, instalments, performances, and more.
  • Follow these tips to becoming an environmentally friendly artist: https://www.wake-up.ws/tips-become-eco-friendly-artist/

 

Try this quiz to see how much you know about Art & Nature!

Bibliography:

  • TBA

 

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