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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Art and Environmentalism

There were two stories from the BBC today that caught my eye, and they both had a similar theme: using art to help the environment. I know that this might sound cheesy or largely ineffective, but give it a chance. A true shift in the sociocultural milieu, significant enough to change behavior, requires integration on a deep and broad scale across all areas of society and culture. I feel strongly that an environmentalist ethos will have to permeate throughout the entire sociocultural landscape before widespread environmental change can occur. Therefore, as art is a part of culture, it is also important for environmentalism to integrate with art.

The two articles were In pictures: Helena Christensen exhibition and Mexico’s ‘giant underwater museum’.

Helena Christensen went to Peru to photograph the effects of global warming on rural Peruvians that rely heavily on regular snow melt to sustain their farming and economy. Her photos are truly works of art. In particular, her portraits seem to effortlessly capture a beautiful humanity emanating from the subjects. However, they also border on photojournalism by documenting a developing crisis. Hopefully, her work will serve to raise awareness of how global warming can have disastrous affects on all world populations, even those that are not industrialized.

A national park in Cancun, Mexico is launching a project to create an underwater museum of sculptures. The sculptures will help encourage the growth of algae, which in turn can support more vibrant ecosystems. Another aim of the project is to attract tourist away from the park’s coral reefs that have been damaged by too much human traffic. The sculptures are currently being made by Jason deCaires Taylor, who has modeled them after Mexicans from around Mexico. It’s interesting that the sculpture itself is not the finished art piece. The pieces are designed to develop outside of the sculptor’s control as the algae grow. So, in a very real sense the artist is working with nature to make art to protect nature. Awesome.

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