Environmental art, also referred to as ecological art, is a genre that encompasses a blend of both craft and nature. The idea of showcasing the Earth through art has been around since the dawn of man, starting with paleolithic cave paintings. They were, in essence, the beginning of landscape art. Back then, their only purpose was to display the beauty of nature itself, not to send any type of political message. In this era of a growing concern for our planet, a lot of people are feeling ecologically motivated to send a social message along with displaying their talent. There is a strong movement towards educating the public about growing concerns all around us.
Instead of using nature as merely a background that is used to tell human tales, many artists nowadays are working alongside nature to create works of art in order to convey a deeper message about climate change and how it relates to society as a whole. By choosing a specific landscape to showcase their work instead of working within the confines of a studio, environmental artists help draw their audiences’ attention to the canvas of nature itself. This can help bring attention in a positive way to those areas that need human intervention.
Some artists in this field have chosen to express themselves in a very literal sense, using only all-natural materials and working only within natural landscapes. This can be rural, urban, or a combination of both. These particular artists try to achieve two things simultaneously – they seek to display a certain area as it has always been in its natural state, while also transforming it into a new vision to send a message. The purpose of having a twofold goal in mind is to help people see the existing world around them from a new perspective.
A common thread among environmental artists, regardless of location, is that they must do no harm. Their purpose is to raise awareness while drawing attention to a specific area or plight without harming it further. Some artists take a more figurative approach, but most of them will use organic material in order to represent their subject matter. The types of substances they might use include rocks, sticks, leaves, sand, flowers, or water, to name just a few. This leaves them open to vulnerability, much like in nature itself which falls prey to the changing of the seasons and predictable decay.