Nature inspires—the sunrise over the bay with birds flying in a perfect V formation, the changing colors in the setting sky, the double rainbow that graced us not long ago, the intricate details of an orchid flower in bloom. Artists capture and share these moments through photographs, paintings and other forms.
Environmental Art, or the use of the environment in art, started as far back as cave paintings, when aspects of nature would be illustrated on cavern walls. In the 1960s it evolved into a movement where artists, such as Nils-Udo, would use natural materials in their creations to celebrate a connection with nature. Today, Environmental Art has expanded to incorporate the use of other media as a way to convey ideas and raise awareness on environmental issues like global warming and the impact that our actions have on our planet.
Can this art be a catalyst of change? Can it make a difference? Locally, we have been privileged with the works of many Environmental Artists, such as Bev Murphy, who used organic materials to create an incredible Boo-Tanical Halloween display at Fairchild in 2015, and Thomas Dambo, who recently used discarded materials to bring Trolls to life at Pinecrest Gardens. Xavier Cortada is a remarkable local artist that has put together amazing and thought provoking projects that bring awareness to rising sea levels and more. He is very direct in his approach and is taking the discussions to our local schools, as education is a fundamental part to inducing change. I encourage exploring his various projects directly on his website. You may recognize his project HOA which resulted in artistic interventions on our roads.
The challenge in art that is created to address pressing matters, is that it does not always present solutions, as the answers are complex and there is no one right way to tackle the problem. When it comes to addressing a response to the Environmental Art movement, we can start with simple changes in our habits and encouraging and inspiring others to follow in refusing, reducing, reusing, and recycling. When we go to the beach, I want to see future Environmental Artists shaping hearts in the sand with seashells and hopefully not plastic bottle caps or PPE. This month, as we reflect on these local artists and the Environmental Art movement, let us all celebrate nature together and promote positive change.
Small changes. Large impact. In a fight for green, we are all equal.