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What is environmental art?

Environmental art is a broad topic that covers a variety of artistic movements and practices, such as sustainable art, land art, nature art, and focuses on bringing out environmental issues while also making sure the work is non harmful to the environment, and even embodies the spirit and beauty of nature as well. Environment art can be tracked down to as early as the 19th century, in the origins of the Industrial Revolution, when as a response to the increasing pollution and introduction of mass production technologies, with poets such as William Wordsworth travelling and writing about natural beauty.

In fact, you could go even as far as to say that the grassroots of environmental art began with Paleolithic cave paintings by our ancestors, and are probably one of the truest forms of the art. They represented nature, and were made of materials found in nature itself, and are preserved today as a historic part of storytelling. Today, one of the main focuses on issues today while also integrating social and ecological approaches, while also retaining ethical and restorative ideals. Important issues such as climate change have come to the forefront of the movement over the recent years, although it is not limited to just ecological concerns.

It is also the relationship between artist and nature, because for centuries art has taken inspiration from the world around it, and it is about recognising the impact of the materials around you. The artist is not restricted to using earthen materials, but their main theme or idea should revolve around appreciating and mimicking nature, in a way that respects its conventions and also brings appreciation of it as well. For example, the Particle Falls, by Andrea Polli, is a real time visualization of air quality data, represented by lights and colours, and looks like a falling waterfall, but uses readings from a nearby air monitor to generate it’s patterns, almost as if the air itself is creating the artwork. Finnish architect Marco Casagrande’s Sandworm, is a 45 meter long art installation that combines environmental art and architecture, to create a massive structure made entirely out of willow branches, often dubbed the “willow cathedral”.

In the end, it’s important to note that the artists today pursuing environmental art not only play an important role in the art world, but in also creating a statement and an impact in our society and our environment, and raise awareness while promoting art as a whole as well.

Particle Falls, Andrea Polli

Sandworm, Marco Casagrande


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