“Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not the political legislators who implement change after the fact.” -William S. Burroughs
Art has always been an important component of social change, and this environmental movement we are in the midst of is no different. Combining art with activism is an extremely powerful way to get a message across. This eco art comes in many different forms. Back in the late sixties and early seventies, artists, including Robert Smithson and Andy Goldsworthy, took part in the land art movement, in which nature and the environment itself was used to make art.
These artists’ works are a celebration and an appreciation of nature. Many current environmental artists take on a more political tone. One artist whom I find particularly relevant to our past few classes is Miru Kim, a photographer whose series The Pig That Therefore I Am features a nude model posing among pigs. Her artists statement regarding the series explains how similar pigs and humans really are, yet we exploit pigs as a mass-produced, profit-generating raw material. You can see the series in it’s entirety on the artist’s website linked above. Christopher Anderson is another eco-photographer, yet his focus is the exploitation of Venezuela’s natural resources.
An interesting, yet increasingly popular trend among eco-artists is upcycling garbage and using it as a medium. Christine Lee uses used shims, or wedges of wood, to create designs of criss-crossed wood installations. She doesn’t attach the shims in place, so the same wood scraps can be used over and over again for each installation. Mark Langan’s medium of choice is reclaimed cardboard, while Kathleen Egan collects plastic bottles from beaches which are then used to create a huge, sculptural wave form.
One way to get in on the action of eco-art, as well as another popular trend, street art, is moss art, otherwise known as grassiti. Check out how to do it.