Art On The Environment

Discussions in Chat

anonymous said 15 years ago

Is there anyone doing any work related to environmental issues ?

anonymous said 15 years ago

Hmm, no-one !
Perhaps I’m being impatient and need to wait a bit longer.

Rebecca Gabrielle Cannon said 15 years ago

What kind of scale do you mean? Kirsten Bradley does a bit of small scale stuff.

anonymous said 15 years ago

I wasn’t really thinking in terms of the scale of works.
Just wondering if anyone is spending any of their creative energy on
this important social issue.

Writers and musicians do it, but it seems that if an art anthropologist dug up
the works of a hundred artists,and compared those to factual information about what was going on during their lifetime, it seems that their work would have little relationship to the world they actually lived in.

This could lead one to ask what planet are they living on, but not me, never me,I wouldn’t ask or even contemplate such a rude question.

PWRuiz said 15 years ago


Fair enough if someone wants to make focus on art that carries a clear cut environmental agenda, but the inference in your last post is that many of our artists could be accused of being disconnected and or apathetic re the environment, which I feel is a little presumptuous.

As with writers and musicians, much can be said about the “world we live in” without having to literally reference or subscribe to environmental issues. There are other things to make art about, obviously.

anonymous said 15 years ago

Art is thought.
So if an artist’s works represent his thoughts his art is an accurate representation of what he or she is thinking about.

And it’s not about making the entire focus about art on the environment.
If an artist was to make a list of the subject material of his works what would the list of subjects consist of ? How much variety of thought would there be?

It’s true that all art is in some way about the world we live in, even if very often it is only so personal that it’s only relevant to the artist.

If we return to the art anthropologist, digging up the art, he would be judging the value of the work by it’s relevance to, and insights it allowed, into the period in which the art was created.
He may ask himself,and be puzzled by the question, why this or that artist only painted lanscapes,or nudes, or still-life while the world about them was in a state decline and collapse.
Why had they not seen, commented, or cried out about it.
And, our anthropologist might also wonder about the reply those artist’s might have given to their children, and grandchildren, when, seated upon their knee in front of the canvas they ask their talanted parents and grand parents, why are you painting nudes,and landscapes and still-life while the world is dying?

anonymous said 15 years ago

Here we are once more in the silence of the void,
with no-one to lament the loss of the heritage of art in the hue and atmosphere of the seasons.

If everything we do is a vote for the world we want to live in, it is equally created by what we do not do, or say.
All these things are noted and tallied by those who like to collect such data and passed on to those who like to give us what we want, and our silence, to their logic is seen and taken as acceptance, as indifference is not seen as criticism.

Giulio Baistrocchi
Giulio Baistrocchi said 15 years ago

Well my work deals with the amazon, and has a deep ecological message. It has a very retro look and abstract expressionist make up but it is pure make up, because it showa the vitaly and the fragility of the amazon forest. My workhas been praised by the poetress Marcia Theophilo nobel candidate and our work has many things in common, the Amazon has a voice, and maybe for this there are many singers dealing with it because Amazon has a voice. Instead of doing a contemporary looking work, the only way is to use colour as notes as music, because people don t listen to apocalyptic message.Only to state by painting, is that we are nature, and therefore subconsciousness,our rational desire to destroy nature is in fact a desire to destroy subconsciousness, so killing ourselves. The idea of macrocosmos and microcosmos. Sorry if my ideas are a bit confusing but got so many prob to speak about it in th artworld it seems that people in the arts don t care, found closer to poet and musicians

anonymous said 15 years ago

I’ve been doing a series of paintings with variations of mangroves. Initially, I chose them as thematic material because I doubted that anyone else would be using them as a theme. I saw them as mainly interesting shapes due to their roots.

As I painted, I started thinking about how mangroves have no economic value to humans, but immense value to animal life. Then I read that the coasts of Southeast Asia were being radically stripped of their mangrove forests, mostly for shrimp farming — and that the tsunami would not have been as devastating if the mangroves had been there to shield the coast. I read more and more & as I’ve painted, my appreciation of the mangrove ecosystem has grown.

Then I saw 3 spirit sculptures called imunus, from New Guinea at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. The people who carved them had gone on vision quests where they visualized their personal spirit protectors then looked for a shape that resonated to them as their spirit in the mangrove roots. They cut the roots to represent that spiritual being, and embellished the simple sculptures with just a bit more carving and perhaps a bits of twine. To them, the mangrove was obviously powerful.

Now I am contemplating a new direction in my next painting, possibly a diptych with 2 panels. On the left, the imunu with some sort of golden aura, and behind it, mangroves stretching out to the horizon behind, birds nesting in their branches. On the right, onshore development with tractors and backhoes and a sign announcing new waterfront condos, with a barren ocean behind.

As for whether or not artists should assign themselves the responsibility of using the dying globe as a theme, I think that if it’s something that’s within them to say, then their imunu will eventually lead them, there — but maybe their imunu needs to work with the joy that still remains in the world. We still need to know how to create it, too. It’s rare for me to use my art to preach — in this case there was a natural path to this result.

anonymous said 15 years ago

Finally some voices from the void, excellent !

My point in beginning the discussion was to find others who may be visually thinking about this issue.
The idea of creating works about our treatment and control of the environment forces us to step back and look at ourselves in a totally new, unromantic light.
There are completely new perceptions that need to be conceptualised.
Goya painted life and also powerfully painted death, as did Michelangelo.

It’s just that we have a new kind of death to contemplate, for those of us at least, who are prepared to do that contemplation.

And what we do may be too small and possibly too late, but we at least have the consolation of knowing, that we have seriously thought about how a planet is dismembered, is bought and sold, is wounded and dies, all done by the many hands of one species, a species which considers itself intelligent, enlightened, imagine that !

Art is also about communication, we each have to decide what we want to talk about and what our work is to say, remember though, that anyone can talk,
not everyone has someting to say.

PWRuiz said 15 years ago

“art is thought…”

Anon, I disagree with you. Some artists don’t actually care what an anthropologist may say about their art. This does not make them indifferent to the state of our planet or our human condition.

Cameron D. said 15 years ago

Excellent topic, something I’ve been pondering myself over the last few years.

I think much of my work over the last 2 years has had an environmental consciousness. I’ve been doing works that feature dinosaurs and hoodoos, both which are found near to where I live (Alberta, Canada.) The dinosaur works are definitely meditations on extinction. Although they did not alter the environment the same way humans do the outcome may be the same and if a successful, dominant species like dinosaurs can eventually wane away to extinction then the same fate could await humanity – the only difference is that perhaps we can prevent our own extinction.

Hoodoos are strange, mushroom-shaped rock formations found in the areas that dinosaurs are found. They are formed over millions of years of wind and water erosion. For my work they’re a symbol of environmental degradation; they are more rapidly eroding due to acid rain (and the fact that tourists climb on them.)

One of the mediums I employ is sand. That earth element speaks to the subject matter and where I live. The oil & gas industry is huge where I live – as well as the environmental impact it will (and is) having. Far north from where I live are the oilsands, one of the biggest industrial projects in the world and one that is having huge effects on the environment: it’s literally being torn apart. I would like to see it for myself (in pictures it looks like Mordor) and maybe it will be an area I go next in my art.

I’ve also thought of exploring the environmental (and health) impact of plastic. It’s starting to get more attention, particularly in the oceans which are becoming seas of plastic. I don’t really have any ideas of how to represent this in art yet.

As far as other artists doing work in the environmental impact of human industry/consumption I’d recommend checking out the photography of Edward Burtynsky.

Cameron D. said 15 years ago

Another area of interest on the theoretical side of things is ecocriticism (or green theory.) So far (to my knowledge) it’s an area of theory that has been applied to literature, but it would be interesting to see it in art.

Basically it’s about the connection between culture (and self) and the environment. It’s relatively new theory. There are two variants, US and UK. The US tends to be be celebratory and reverent of nature, while the UK is more about warning of the impact of industry.

Interestingly, it’s a rather anti-theory theory. It stresses that the environment is more than a social/linguistic construct, that it is a real entity that affects us and vice versa. A famous quote related to this idea is: “It isn’t language which has a hole in it’s ozone layer.” (Kate Soper)

This is a very scant description … it’s an area I’m keen to learn more about and apply to art.

anonymous said 15 years ago

Firstly, about the comment about not agreeing that “art is thought”, if it’s not reflecting a persons thoughts, then what is it doing ?

Trying to conceptualise ideas about our relationship to the environment and what we are doing to it is something I have been grappling with, and been fascinated by, for the past few years. In doing it, I’ve been going back into prehistory as well, and in doing this I’ve been re-evaluating who and what we are.

I’m in Australia, sounds like Canada has a lot of material to contemplate for
art on the environment as well. And yes, there are a whole range of related issues to think about, more than enough for a lifetime.

failed_artist said 15 years ago

This thread needs a picture of a hoodoo, what an absurd rock form. Is your work suggesting maybe erosion can be beautiful Cameron D?

Aaron O'Brien: AaronArts
Aaron O'Brien: AaronArts said 15 years ago

yea i am checkout my work at and at

Have fun, and may the natural world be with you.

anonymous said 15 years ago

The original question was asking if anyone was doing work related to environmental issues.
Landscapes, or images depicting the natural ageing process of the land were not what I had in mind.

The Ansel Adams, romantic era of the land is over.

It is more relevant now to look at what we are doing to mould the planet.
I was wondering if there was anyone,in their creative work, trying to step out of the human skin,away from all they have been taught to see, and look critically at the human species.

Yes, erosion creates beautiful form, and light through trees, and mist upon water,there is beauty everywhere, even in the wrinkles and eyes of a face.
We could lose ourselves forever in it, without ever thinking, beyond the pretty picture we are taught to see.