Environmental artists working today in response to climate change

Posted on October - 16 - 2018

Aviva Rahmani. Courtesy: Virginia Tech

Aviva Rahmani. Courtesy: Virginia Tech

As summers grow hotter and winters colder and the oceans are filling up with plastic and species are becoming extinct our age is being defined as the Anthropocene, where human presence has had a significant impact on the Earth’s environment in many different ways. From the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to the Paris Climate Agreement, the world seems to be slowly recognizing Nature’s desperate calls for attention. In this polarized battle, artists have also taken a stance and informed their work to provide solutions, awareness or an overall critique on global occurrences. As the term “environmental art” initially hails from the Land Art movement that gained force in the 1970’s, lately it is becoming associated with practices that highlight the connection between art, humans and the environment. Here are three famed artists that have been working in relation to the environment in their own different ways, varying on their approach and final works.

Agnes Denes 

Mrs. Denes has been around for some time earning her the title of the “Grandmother of Environmental Art Movement”. Since the 1980’s Denes has made a name for herself in the environmental community for her critique on urban expansion famously portrayed in her work Wheatfield, a Confrontation (1982) which took the artists 6 months to plant a whole wheat field in a landfill near Manhattan. Nowadays the artist is still active and her mission unwavering, producing modern works such as The Living Pyramid (2015) which is settled down at Socrates Sculpture Park, in Long Island City.

Courtesy: Leslie Tonkonow

Andy Goldsworthy

Awarded with the Most Excellence Order of the British Empire, British artists Andy Goldsworthy goes to show that not all ecological artists are folky woodland dwellers. Goldsworthy is one of the most celebrated artists of the environmental art movement and his work is conducted exclusively with natural and vernacular materials, reimagining and rearranging logs, stones and other things he finds along the way. Goldsworthy work feels ancestral, reminiscing the ancient cairns and dolmens that mysteriously inhabit throughout Europe.

Courtesy: El Dorado Journal

Aviva Rahmani

Another branch of environmentalism is Ecofeminism which led to Ecofeminist art to emerge in the 1970’s, a stance that critiqued Eurocentric patriarchal capitalist culture. Today, although less militant, there is still a significant amount of artists following this theoretical conception. One is Aviva Rahmani whose works involves collaboration with interdisciplinary teams of scientists, environmentalists, and architects. She recently was involved in a project called The Blue Symphony, where she painted trees, blue and copyrighted the work as a site-specific work to stop the contraction of the Alongquin Incremental Market pipeline expansion.

There are many more artists working on these subjects which, even if you are not a hard-core tree hugger, artists’ creative approached serve to remind us about our dependency on the health of our Earth.

By: Gabriela Martinez de la Hoz