I have spoken about the social responsibility of the artist on numerous occasions. This blog approaches a similar topic but in direct relation to using art as a potent tool for change and as a platform for raising awareness of important environmental and ecological issues that all of humanity is currently faced with.
All forms of art have the potential to be tools for healing and transformation. I believe that through the creative process the relationship with self and the environment can be transformed. Why? Because when creative work is approached from a place of passion and purpose and art is brought to life with intention, great shifts can occur, not only for the artist, but also for the viewer. I believe wholeheartedly that I can approach the canvas and paint intentionally to deepen my connection to my inner and outer landscapes, and in doing so inspire others to deepen and honour a connection to the earth creatively.
There are many contemporary artists who are agents of environmental change and who are using their creative gifts and talents to build awareness and provoke thought through their work and process. Many artists, such as myself, are working with transformative approaches and processes towards a new vision that is ecological and participates with the living cycles of nature. Many topics are approached such as ocean health, climate change, water quality, recycling, water purification, natural disasters, de-forestation, endangered species and more.
Artists today are finding all sorts of inventive ways to call attention to the problems facing our environment, as corporate greed and profit impose destruction on our planet. While each artist works very differently and explores diverse territories, they share awareness about the critical loss of natural resources and a desire to save the planet from human destruction.
Take the words of Nigerian painter Jerry Buhari:
“Today the talk of the world is about an endangered Earth. One often wonders how much of the talk is backed with genuine concern and the will to take positive steps. But it should not surprise the world that artists are in the forefront of the discussion on the environment.”
Eco-feminist artist Ann T. Rosenthal and activist artist Steffi Domike have been collaborating on environmental installations for years. Their wall installation, Watermark: Wood, Coal, Oil, Gas (2011), consists of four panels that illustrate an evolutionary timeline of energy resources—wood, coal, oil and natural gas.
Dominique Mazeau is a poet and artist from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has made an exquisite journal of poems and drawings of cleaning up the Rio Grande River over many years. She has made sculptures from the trash and she teaches school children about the river with her poems and her art.
There are many more Eco-feminist and Environmentalist/Activist artists such as Charla Puryear and Helene Aylon using their art to raise awareness of ecological issues. These few examples alone demonstrate that art, in its myriad of forms, has the capacity to effect positive change on the earth and its environments.
Artists are catalysts for change, and this “change” takes place when we feel deeply for a precious cause. I feel deeply for the state of the earth and feel that it is largely humanity’s spiritual disconnection from the earth and from the earth as sentient that has contributed to the current state of not only the health of the earth body, but also the health of our bodies.
Coming up in October 2016 I will be presenting an exhibition ‘Voices for the Earth’ in Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia. This exhibition will feature the works of select regional artists who are using their art to speak for the earth. It is held in conjunction with RONA-16-Earth Arts Festival as part of the The Rights of Nature Tribunal that is taking place the same month. Artists of all genres from around Australia are participating in creative activities to raise awareness of the urgency required to make the necessary changes that the health of the planet becomes an absolute priority.
I know that more has to be done, and some might see ‘art’ as a hedonist, self-absorbed way to attempt to bring about change – but the power of image should NEVER be underestimated.
I am Painting for the earth.
This Earth is my sister
I love her daily grace
Her silent daring
And how loved I am.
How we admire this strength in each other
All that we have lost
All that we have found
We are stunned by this beauty,
And I do not forget
What She is to me
And what I am to Her.
(from Susan Griffin, Woman and Nature – The Roaring Inside Her, p.219, caps added).
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