The Role of Art and the Artist

In the reading Art and Ecology by Andrew Brown, Brown brings up cave paintings when discussing the history of act that depicts the world around us. He makes a point about how cave paintings enact a two-fold interaction with the environment: it is a representation of nature through our eyes, and it uses supplies from the earth to create. From this arrises an interesting relationship in which we use art to attempt to understand the world around us and the only way we can create art is by taking from the earth and repurposing it. And this specific relationship is what Brown is talking about in this reading. In almost every way the art that is created can be viewed in the terms of the creator. In other words, the ideologies that the artist possesses influences the art that is created in a major way. This is especially seen in environmental and natural art where the artist is depicting the world around them, much like the cave paintings from thousands of years ago. Brown talks about how art during the American colonial period depicted a landscape that is there to be conquered, beauty meant to be tamed, which can directly be tied back to the colonizers’ attitude nature and the land of America in general, in other words manifest destiny. Today, with the earth burning and eternal doom rising from every crack in which we had put it, art is again reflecting our views of the world. One area of environmental art Brown talks about is the almost performative art that is meant to bring awareness to issues relating to climate change. With us, as a society, now being “aware” of our impact on the earth, there is a hyper-focus among people that actually care on how everything actually does impact the earth. When it comes to environmental art, artists can be easily ridiculed for how their art pieces emit carbon emissions, or waste unnecessarily, or things of that sort. This brings up the question: To what extent does the awareness that the art brings negates the environmental impact that the art has. This question can be related to personal responsibility for climate change itself. I think that this is a very interesting question and debate to be had, and one that everybody should be thinking about. It is clear that the artists today are asking us to.

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