Art and Ecology

One important characteristic of art is the powerful influence that it can have on all aspects of life whether it be political, social, or cultural. A very current example that comes to mind of the powerful effects that art can have on individuals and society is the Charlie Hebdo shooting that occurred earlier this month. Two masked gunman forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, and open fired leaving 12 people dead after the newspaper published controversial depictions of Muhammad. Obviously the cartoons are just a small part of much deeper political and religious disputes, however this historic event exemplifies that art can be powerful.

This week’s material focuses on the roles of art in the field of ecology. Ecology is simply defined as the branch of biology that describes the relations of organisms with one another and their environment. Many artists strive to define the relationship humans have with the environment and nature through their work. For example Andy Goldsworthy recreates landscapes and uses nature as his medium in order to explore the deep connections that we as beings of this planet share with the natural world. As we continue to advance and grow as a species the further and further we drift away from nature. Since the onset of industrialization we have more than just moved away from nature, but have exploited it in order to fuel our never ending need for energy and resources, often without thought about the repercussions. We have reached a time in our modern age that we are finally realizing that our resources are not infinite and now more than ever it has become important to conserve.

One artist that utilizes the power of art in a way to raise awareness of our environmental decline is the Belgian street artist ROA. He is graffiti artist that works on the streets of cities all across Europe, the US and New Zealand. He generally paints large scale animals or birds depicting them in states of decay or suffering as a way to illustrate the devastating results of animal hunting, pollution, and other environmentally destructive human activities. I think that his work is particularly powerful for many reasons. First off the large scale of the artworks emphasize the enormity of the problem as well being extremely striking that can’t help but grab the attention of anyone passing by. The minimal use of color adds to the mood of anguish and suffering that surround the piece and the issues that it addresses. The fact that his work is displayed on the sides of building and in large cities brings nature to an urban setting. Often times because we are so caught up in the societies that we create we forget the natural world and our impact on it. ROA brings these issues to us in a way that we can’t ignore. Furthermore his use of animals, rather than perhaps landscapes in states of ruin, allows the viewer to relate more to the issues as fellow species of this planet. I find his work to be truly eye opening and inspiring and hope you do too!

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-Lauren Simons

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