Painting a Picture of Ecology

Art has traditionally been one of the best mediums to communicate a wide range of ideas or issues to the general public, from oppression, to emotion, to the topic of this week’s reading, the environment, and our current ecological crisis. Brown, in his introduction to his book Art and Ecology Now dives into the history of how artists have communicated facts about their environment through their art. Our ancestors of the Paleolithic were some of the first, with their cave paintings communicating with others about integral parts of their surroundings, ranging to the remediationist artists setting out to heal the earth in our present day. Artists can have a huge effect on the subject of their art, playing a part in a large spectrum, from a town cryer, letting the people know about an issue, or an active protestor, getting their hands dirty in the field of their art. Eco-art as the text calls it is art that goes a step further, akin to only a small percentage of art; not only does this kind of art aim to evoke an emotion, it aims to evoke an emotion that puts the viewer into action. The artist wants each viewer of their piece to go into the world with a newfound worry for their environment that will be put towards ecological change. 

Just because every artist can play a huge role in the ecological battle, doesn’t mean that every artist should. It is true that art is subjective, but art that aims to evoke such a specific and strong emotion should be of a high caliber; not undervalued. The art world would be filled with eco-art if every artist put their talents towards ecological advocacy, devaluing the art, and in turn, devaluing the movement. Artists have the power to cause major shifts in socio-political areas of our world, but the power that they wield should not be underestimated. 

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

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