Art & Nature

Featured image by Meaghan Gietzen. Art Prize dominates Grand Rapids, MI the last week of September, the first week of October. I wrote in #ArtPrize8, this self-described “radically open international art competition” takes over downtown. The Art Newspaper says this to be “the most-attended public art event on the planet” (here). I–a tree hugging, dirt worshipper–am very interested in the ways that art represents nature.

One definition of art considers how the aesthetic evokes emotion in the person appreciating it. Why was it I appreciated some pieces over others? How was I affected by these displays? Beyond orange rebar bucks (here) inspiring me for deer season. 😛

Take Joan Webster-Vore’s work (here). Hers represented the 3 to 5 billion passenger pigeons killed by deforestation and over-hunting. Here in Michigan, a conservation measure was even passed in 1897 to try and save the birds. But all were gone in the space of 200 years. Consider the enormity of an extinction of so many in such a short time. And, Joan considers, how many people know nothing about this. Her installation is wire and paper silhouettes, suspended in flight, as a haunting reminder.

What of our own lives, those of our children, and theirs. This is what I was reminded of when viewing Meaghan Gietzen’s “Death of an Ecosystem” (featured image). Only recently I’d read the report of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (here). It’s the latest of at least two clear statements of data that we have passed the climate change point of no return. The world we’ve enjoyed is going away. What quality of life will we be able to find in the world we’re inheriting?

Which made Philana Brown’s “Under the Purple Sky” so potent (here). Edible plants in spaces otherwise unoccupied, sustainably grown with various recycled media. This kind of creativity and innovation will be what saves us from our own self-destruction.

And art was the soil in which creativity sprouted to produce our survival.

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