Like music, art is a medium of communicating complex information in a digestible manner, by way of emotional subtext or as direct as a hit to the stomach. In laymen's terms, art gives us impressions that reach the brain via the heart and people tend to remember and take action towards things they have an emotional investment in.
Art also has a way of connecting to the broader community, spanning age or intelligence level, giving us all receptivity to the world around us and a vehicle to process empathy.
What is environmental art?
Environmental art may be not new for the culture elitists/art aficionados out there, but the environmental art movement has significantly increased within the last decade and is becoming more than a niche field, often now reaching the mainstream status; arguably crossing into pop culture.
It has been said, “environmental” art as a broad term has been around since the Paleolithic period, so it essentially doesn't fall into “modern art”; yet, modern art has had a distinctive place for artists emoting environmental issues, as being seen in “recent” ecological and politically motivated messages; many about pending ecological collapse.
How modern art is shaping environmental awareness
Throughout history, art has taken the opportunity to unapologetically promote the artist's message as well as challenge preconceived notions. Today's artists have even more opportunity to reach a larger audience through conventional and modern mediums/technology, such as social media, in distributing their message about our environment and our future.
Their work ranges in such diverse fields as air quality, energy and water conservation, climate change, biodiversity, and nowadays could be exhibited, not only in galleries or within a landscape, but also online and interactively.
One aspect that is also new is the amount of environmental artists today. While some critics could claim its “in fashion”, many would argue that it is a “modern day” calling.
Promoting art through social media has given artists a way to connect to a broader community, not just art enthusiasts and gallery patrons.
From the subtle to sublime
Welcome to the modern age of environmental awareness. Below are just a few "present" artists delivering messages on sustainability and environmentalism in their works through different mediums: music, graffiti/paintings, photography, sculptures, etc.
- Graffiti/urban art: Banksy's “Season's Greetings”
Those who are familiar with Banksy know his works are nothing short of provocative, including one of his latest works, captioned as "Season's Greetings"; an outdoor mural of a little girl catching ashes in her mouth as if they were snowflakes.
"Season's Greetings" by Banksy
The piece is claimed to have been inspired by an Instagram message to the artist from a Welsh resident, highlighting Port Talbot's poor air quality.
- Installation art: Michael Pinsky's "Pollution Pods"
Pollution Pods are the advantageous creation by artist Michael Pinsky consisting of five geodesic domes that emulate the atmospheric conditions (in a pseudo-toxic environment) from some of the world's most densely populated cities that people can enter and experience; all with the goal of spreading awareness to the dangers of air pollution.
- Photography: Patrik Svedberg and Patric Ivansson
Instead of a dismal look, common among environmental artists, Patrik and Patric’s photography offer pieces of serene appreciation of the natural beauty there is in Scandinavia today, resulting in a message that is whispered to its viewers, more than a hit to the gut, as if saying, "Don’t mess with perfection". Their works are also observed as being absent of political commentary.
Image provided by Patrik Svedberg
Their Scandinavian outdoor environmental photography can be seen in the entrance hall of QleanAir Scandinavia’s headquarters outside Stockholm Sweden (and throughout the brand), representing nature's archetypes for this global health and environment company.
Image provided by Patric Ivansson
- Music: Two Door Cinema Club – "Dirty Air"
From Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”, which caused riots in theaters to the complete opposite end of the spectrum; 1969's Woodstock, which spread a message of peace, music has proven to be a vehicle to provoke and/or persuade the masses.
With that said, it's no coincidence that "Dirty Air", the latest single from dance pop's Two Door Cinema Club is getting a lot of attention form its controversial topic on the environment. The song is taken from the upcoming album ‘FALSE ALARM’, to release on June 21, 2019.
Corporate use of exhibitions
Businesses use art as a compelling way to communicate a message about a company's core values. it may also be used in expressing their corporate social responsibility; making displayed, environmental art an effective strategy.
Overall, the current environmental art we witness today gives us a look at the world around us, and the ability to change the way we think about our environment.