Environmental art is a big umbrella. An umbrella that accommodates artistic practices and artwork that is representative of the nature in addition to the new age ecologically motivated artwork. Environmental art as a term is used in a variety of contexts. It may be used to refer to the kind of art that represents the nature that surrounds us and puts it out there for inspiration and appreciation of the nature’s bounty.
It may also be a representation of the relationship or personal experiences and engagements with the natural world. The ecological aspect also comes in to this as the ecological artists whose work directly addresses issues pertaining to environment. This aspect educates people about the natural world, intervenes in and works to restore the natural world.
Historically speaking environmental art was conceived within the landscape painting and representation arena. During the process of painting and representing nature and scenes from nature, the artist develops a sensitive relationship with nature. It actually includes various process like capturing the scene or capturing and highlighting the changes that the environment has gone through to draw attention to environmental issues.
In the late 60s or 70s environmental art took on the form of a sort of movement where which primarily began with challenging the traditional sculpture forms that had become outdated and lost sync with the natural environment. This is also when the artworks and artists broke the confines of a gallery. Some of these artworks were physically impossible to be brought in to the gallery due to their sheer size, weight, fragility and maneuverability. Such artworks found their space in the galleries through photographs.
The impetus or the initiator for this style was necessarily the realization of change. The change that environment was going through and not necessarily in a good light. A sensitivity to the growing alarm that our practices as a developing global community were causing.
Art was historically appreciated for their cultural and aesthetic values. The purpose and the intent of art was in most historical pieces purely representational. However a gradual yet substantial change in the global scenario gave purpose to art. The reach and impact of the same came to be exploited as a potential to convey ideas, generate awareness and induce sensitivity to burning issues.
Once art had a purpose, it took on a new form. One with a strong impact on the society at large. Pieces that were passionately produced with a strong message had lasting impacts on the audience. In the public and private arena, art began to make its mark as an influence on the society.
Environmental art with the intent to raise awareness and sensitivity has begun to do its part. The kind of impact visual art has on the audience that is the global community is humungous and still in the nascent phase with limitless scope.
It differs from environmental art in the fact that it is known to involve functional ecological restoration.
Ecological art has many approaches, some of them may be listed as under
Representational Artwork – through a process of two or three dimensional illustration this is an approach that reveals information while inviting a dialogue.
Remediation Project – these artists collaborate with environmental scientists, landscape architects and urban planners to retrieve or to restore environments that have been polluted and disrupted.
Activist Projects – these are more direct or dynamic projects launched with an intent to enlighten, invigorate, engage and trigger a change in behaviors or related policies.
Social Sculptures – scheduled artwork that involves the entire community to help monitor their landscape before participating actively in a more environmentally responsible lifestyle.
Eco Poetic Approaches – the intent is to notice and reconnect with the natural world by commencing a re-visualizing and going back to the enchanting appeal that it held.
Direct Encounters – as is quite clearly stated, it encompasses and engages the natural phenomenon quite directly like the vegetation, climate, seasons, water-bodies, sun and numerous such elements
Didactic or Pedagogical Works – those that impart knowledge and information about environmental issues and unjust happenings like the pollution of natural resources and their impact.
Lived and relational Aesthetics – a practice that involves taking into context the whole humanity’s or that of a large community’s social scenario
On a scholarly study of ecological art as a whole, following are the orientations that have been identified yet.
Environmental Design – with a formal aesthetic appeal as a guiding factor, environmental designers have treated nature as a resource for their aesthetic endeavors. These artists have explored and exploited ways to amalgamate art & aesthetics with ecology and culture.
Ecological Design – artists who are engaged with ecological design are aware and concerned about how their artworks interact with the place of its conception. This particular view to design takes into account the interaction and the transient relationships between the people, plants or animals with the venue or earth.
Social Restoration – there is a theory of ecology where it states that the humans live only in relationship to larger communities of life. It is this statement that has caused some artists to get into the process of creating socially responsible artwork. While critically examining everyday life experiences the socio-ecological artists dissect social and authoritarian aspects that instigate community strains about ecological issues.
Ecological Restoration – there are many different ways to draw people’s attention to environmental issues and concerns. Shock, humor, science infused exploration and information oriented literature have been employed to nurture the vulnerable places and educate the public to the signifying character traits of a bioregion through an intensive process oriented artwork.
- Focus – on the intricacy of interrelationships in the environment based on the physical, political, cultural, historical, and biological aspects of ecosystems.
- Create – works of art that employ and exploit natural materials or engage with environmental phenomena such as wind, water, or sunrays.
- Reclaim, restore, and remediate damaged environments.
- Inform – the public and make them aware of the ecological dynamics and the environmental issues that are surfacing today.
- Revision – ecological relationships, creatively putting forth new prospects for coexistence, sustainability, and healing.
Definition & Aspects
There is disparity in the views of the artistic community about defining Ecological Art or Eco Art or EcoArt. Some categorize it as a sub-discipline of Environmental art while others contest it and classify it as a separate stream altogether. A current definition of Ecological Art, drafted collectively by the EcoArtNetwork is “Ecological Art is an art practice that embraces an ethic of social justice in both its content and form/materials. EcoArt is created to inspire caring and respect, stimulate dialogue, and encourage the long-term flourishing of the social and natural environments in which we live. It commonly manifests as socially engaged, activist, community-based restorative or interventionist art. ”
TYPES & IMPACT
Public & Urban Spaces
In this art setup or venue, art travels out to the people and makes it accessible to all. The impact of environmental art when it enters the public arena is manifold and only grows from there. A larger audience is not only addressed but influenced in a way only a stunning piece of art that strikes a chord with the larger population can.
Focused or Indoor Spaces
In such implementation the environmental art is displayed to a target audience that has or can access a certain venue like a gallery or a hotel or some such reserved arena. Here, the advantage is that the target audience is well chosen, hence more receptive than a random group.
A form of art that is produced with special attention to a wider impact of the work of art and the response it evokes in context of its social, economic, biophysical, historical and cultural environments.
Sustainable art can be distinguished as that which is in harmony with the key principles of sustainability including ecology, social justice, non-violence and grassroots democracy. Sustainable art takes environmental art and associated activism to a whole new level as it makes some points which are so much more relatable to the common man.
Junk or trash has become an entangled and integral part of our technologically advanced lifestyle. Also referred to as Junk art, recycled art is the process of using the trash created as a by-product of our lives to create attractive pieces with a high aesthetic value.
There is a dual intent and impact of creating Recycled Art. It has the motivation and intent to generate awareness and sensitivity among the audience and the related community while also physically lessening the trash in the process of creating the pieces. It is through these pieces that an interest rises in the community to bring about the desired changes to move towards a more responsible way of living.