03 August 2014

Survey of Arts that Reveal Nature...an Ongoing Inquiry

In an effort to discover just exactly what kind of work I want to focus on for my graduate studies, I will spend the next six weeks engaged in a survey of ecorevelatory arts; that is, art that reveals nature. I am casting a wide net, and looking at everything from folk music to architecture. If you have suggestions, please send them to me!

I plan to conduct this overview in two main sections: visual and performing arts, and also to add a brief look at ecorevelatory literature.

Don't think about all those things you fearMuch of what I am looking at was not necessarily intended to be labeled as environmental art, but for some reason it has struck me as such. I am already starting to see that there is a big difference between different types of environmental or eco-revelatory art. For example, some of what I am finding is art that occurs in nature and/or is made from natural materials. Other works are not necessarily made from natural materials, but they are intended to reveal nature or draw attention to environmental issues. Still other work was developed specifically in defense of a certain aspect or area of nature, or as a means of preserving it directly. All of it interests me.

I am starting with land art and large scale projects that self-identify as being somehow "ecological," or "environmental." There is a ton of amazing work in this arena, and so I am trying to observe as much as I can and see what jumps out. So far I have assembled a list of websites to explore, and have a stack of full-color books that I have been poring over for a week.

Sadly, I am already noticing a disparity of women in this field. Hmm.

At any rate, here's what we've got so far:
Chris Jordan

The Green Museum
Though they seem to have stalled in adding new artists, this is an excellent resource.

A Catalog of Eco-Revelatory Arts:

Land Art 

I spent a couple of weeks compiling this catalog of best-known Land Artists .

Photographers who emphasize environmental dialogue (there are so many of these! I picked three favorites.)

Ansel Adams
Ansel Adams was the first ecological artist I was ever aware of. I discovered his work when I worked at a poster shop at the mall. His work with the National Parks changed the world's perception of wilderness.  I was in high school in Long Beach, California and those images blew my mind. I still find his work to be inspiring, provocative, and highly ecorevelatory.

Chris Jordan
Ugly, jarring photographs of real problems in the environment. Stunning, creative images.

His photography book about Forest Defenders said more about the forest defense movement than a decade's worth of Indymedia articles.

Murals and Street Art
Though these artists address a variety of issues aside from the environmental ones, I include them because their work is deeply subversive and has had a powerful impact on both the art world and the world in general. (I ran out of time and couldn't study this as much as I wanted to. I will circle back around to it in a month or so.)

Banksy. The primary featured artist in Exit Through the Gift Shop, Banksy's mysterious persona uses star-quality to embed provocative images in our minds. The aforementioned film also chronicles the work of several other amazing artists, and though the filmmaker's self-obsession makes the film feel like the Grizzly Man of street art documentaries, it is highly entertaining and educational too.

Also see this list of Best Street Art Documentaries. I haven't watched the others yet.

El Niño de las Pinturas has been decorating the walls in Granada, Spain since he was a kid, and now he has been around the world painting beautiful murals that contain faces and quotes from neighbors and famous Spaniards. It is difficult to describe the beauty and impact that this art brings to the ancient city of Granada, but el Niño's work is beloved by the people there, and by me too.

The Beehive Design Collective has been making and circulating radical art for over a decade. They operate out of a permaculture community in Maine.

There is a TON of ecorevelatory architecture in the world! This is great news, and there is no way I could conduct a complete survey, but I did put together a post about small-scale ecorevelatory structures.