Artists; The Leaders of Change

Art is used to address a multitude of topics and issues in our world. These topics are vast yet complex and it takes many different art forms to express each topic – of which are often controversial. Historically, painting and poetry among other art forms incorporated nature into art, primarily as a way to record their environment and things of importance to them at the time. During the Renaissance, the perspective of simply recording nature changed to studying nature and shaping it into man’s ideal. This tied in with the Industrial Revolution, greatly damaging the Earth and changing the world. During the 19th century in America, art was used to express the perspective of Manifest Destiny, a desire to conquer the continent. In the second half of that century, the attitudes shifted to conserving nature. Has this attitude held steady and/or grown in presence? I would imagine it has grown, yet we are still fighting the same battle. In our contemporary times, artists use art to seek change – be it political, social, environment and what have you. Art can be in many forms, poetry, sculptures, painting, photography and videography, even pottery! I remember in my AP English Literature class in high school, and my teacher told us that artists are a threat to totalitarian governments because they question what is established and influence others to think differently on different issues. Artists have an important role and responsibility in society to question the current status quo. One of their many important responsibilities is to raise awareness to engage communities and provoke thought in the public. Asking questions isn’t enough! Artists have immense freedom to explore, develop, and redefine current notions and have a responsibility to take advantage of that freedom. Related to the two responsibilities mentioned above, artists lead change in society through their art. Artists make others see things differently, from a different perspective. Not every artist must have the same objective, the same opinion, or style – and that’s what makes each piece powerful and persuasive in its own way. 

Brown, A. (2014). Art & Ecology Now. Thames & Hudson.

Unnaturally Evolving Past Nature

This weeks readings focus on the origin of the current age of Anthropocene, which indicates the time period we’re currently living in where human interaction and involvement with the earth has had a major impact on our environment. My perception of environmental activism has been that recognizing that climate change is an issue wasn’t common thought about until relatively recently and especially that it is a serious and life-threatening issue. I see now that there were environmental activists who, back in the year 1967 in this case, were spot on in some of their assessments regarding our involvement and impact on the environment. The science regarding our actual impact wasn’t developed like it is today, but the sentiment was the same then. Not even that, but White Jr. was able to, depending on your view, assess valid blame for why we are the way we are. He argues that it is the views and morals that are brought up through the Christian religion that have and currently dominate Western culture’s worldview that is to blame for how we treat the world we live on. Among many examples, along with detailing other cultures technological advancements and their relationship with those advancements, Lynn points to the scripture of Christianity and specifically Genesis, the origin story. This is something that Pope Francesco, in the other reading, which was sort-of a reply to Lynn (or at least his school of thought), couldn’t deny. Genesis intentionally lays the groundwork for humans to have a relationship with our Earth that puts us in a position of “rightful” power over plants and animals and the overall environment. Animals were made for the company of man and for food, and plants and fruit were made for humans to eat. In contrast, cultures like the Indigenous people of America are able to have their form of religion, develop many types of technology, advance their society, but because of their world view they don’t destroy the earth in the process.