The Awakening of Environmental Art

Dr. Purushothaman
October 5, 2013

There exists a new movement in the art world that involves blending art into the fields of urban design, architecture, gardening, sculpture, tourism and fashion. It is referred to as environmental art. There are no rules to follow - just an impulse to meld art and other domains together.

Touring the Environmental Art Movement

In the 1960's, various artists came together to counter the growing commercialization of art. Artists were setting up pieces of their art in gardens and parks. The concept of taking art out of the studio and into the world became popular.

Today, many environmental artists are recycling and reusing an assortment of objects to create projects that are earth-friendly. This is a crucial step towards practicing what is being preached.

A Conscientious Artist

Artist McKenzie, a prominent painter, is a great example of the diligent efforts being made in order to encourage environmentally conscious endeavours. McKenzie creates art pieces with earth friendly materials; her paints are made from natural, organic, non-toxic sources, and her paintings are sold in sustainable forest wood frames. Moreover, she donates a portion of her revenue to environmental causes. Her printer and framers also donate a portion of their proceeds to worthwhile environmental organizations.

Important Pieces of Environmental Art

One of the most well known pieces of environmental art is Christo's "Running Fence," a 24 mile long nylon fabric fence that threaded its way through California. However, the work was criticized at the time for not being earth-friendly. It cost 3.2 million dollars and stood for only two weeks.

Dan Das Mann and Karen Cusolito created "Crude Awakening" for the 2007 edition of "Burning Man." It was a huge oil derrick surrounded by worshipping figures, a concept meant to represent the world's dependency on oil.

"Lightning Field" by Walter DeMaria is a collection of 400 lightning rods arranged in a grid in New Mexico.

Environmental Art Transcends Into Fashion

As environmental art gradually expanded into new realms, it was only a matter of time before it reached the world of fashion. Recyclable fashion or "green" clothes are now trendy, and being worn by such Hollywood elite as Angelina Jolie, Heidi Klum and Gwen Stefani. Ladies are sporting purses made from the likes of recycled candy wrappers, food packages, pop labels, subway maps and newspapers.

With celebrities dressed in ecologically-friendly fashion, and with significant importance being put on sustainable living, fashion designers are realizing the potential in marketing recyclable clothes. Today, women must not only shop with the right size and color in mind, but they must also determine if the item is earth-friendly.

Earth Friendly Materials

The concern for ecology is rapidly spreading, and an increasing amount of clothes made with organic materials are now available on the market. Natural fiber such as cotton is gentle on the earth; its growth fortifies the soil and helps prevent erosion. Hemp, another natural material that has been around for years, as well as other viable fabrics, is being used to manufacture clothes. Cotton jeans and soy dresses are popular, and soft bamboo garments are being mass-produced. Many of these fabrics are coloured with non-toxic dyes. Nike, the well-known shoe manufacturer, is creating lines that are easier to recycle. Earth-friendly clothing and accessories are being carried by major retailers like Roots, Gap and H&M.

Major Fashion Designers are Game for a Challenge

The style-conscious should not grimace at the idea of recyclable fashion. Recently a group of environmental activists called 'Earth Pledge' collected the list of top designers to participate in the creation of exciting fashions that were sustainable. Some of the notable names taking part in the event were Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Versace. The show was called "Future Fashion" and took place at Gotham Hall. Hopefully, environmental fashion is here to stay!

Environmental art has flown below the radar for many years, but with ecological issues being hot topics today, its importance and impact on the world have flourished.


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