Art in the Age of Sustainability
An extension of oneself
Hobbies involving painting, visiting art museums, admiring the fascinating sculptures, are all actions that are inexplicable giving a mesmerizing feeling in our hearts. Whether they cause a wave of inspiration or an attack on creativity, enjoying and creating something new, dare to say artistic, has a deep connection to human nature. Artistic expression has always been a fundamental part of humanity since the beginning of time.
Art can be dated as far as the prehistoric era in the form of cave paintings and sculptures. Hunting animals is an image often depicted in most cave paintings, being an important survival practice for existing humans at the time. It is theorised that the act of hunting was captured to represent the concerns present about the prosperity of the hunt, concluding that creating the paintings could have been a sacred ritual. As scholars try to interpret these products of an older time and reveal the true meaning behind them, only one thing is certain, artistry is an inherent trait in people. Art can be seen as an extension of oneself, as it’s the imminent result of imagina
tion and inner thoughts materialized into a visual representation.
Fast forward to the 21st century, artistic expression is more prominent and accessible than ever before. Every person has the freedom to pick up a brush and start painting or dive into any chosen art medium. In the light of the climate crisis more and more people are voicing concerns about the future of the planet Earth through art as a medium of expression. Accordingly, sustainable art has taken centre stage for a lot of artists who want to express their opinion and unique take on the matter; But what is sustainable art and what does it look like?
Sustainable art - In harmony with nature
Sustainable art is concerned with delivering new artworks in an environmentally conscious way. The genre embraces practices that aim to create without harming the surrounding environment, and in a lot of cases, bring awareness about the topic to others. Shortly, sustainable art follows sustainability principles, and its goal is to have no negative impact on nature. As a form of art, sustainable art can find its roots in the 1960s-1970s under the Land Art Movement. Instead of using traditional resources to create, the movement uses materials from the environment, for instance, soil, rocks, and plants, essentially representing how nature and art can be harmonised
Although the movement can be dated fairly recently, sustainable practices in the art can be met in Japanese culture long before the Land Art was born. Japanese art has a lot of methods that embrace sustainability. One example is Kintsugi, old Japanese art that revolves around fixing broken pottery with gold, creating unique results with each piece. This is a great example of how upcycling old objects can become art pieces and have a longer use. Most importantly, the practice carries a strong underlying message of welcoming imperfections to be seen as beauty, which everyone can learn from. Furoshiki is another Japanese practice that turned out to have a sustainable twist, that is the art of fabric folding. The art turned out to have practical uses in packing valuable objects for transport, food, carrying different items, and also used for wrapping presents for holidays in an environmentally friendly approach.
Explore the art
Now that you are familiar with some practices, we can look into more types of sustainable art that exist around us (who doesn’t love a good list?). In the same way, sustainability is versatile, art brings even more to it.
Land Art - Starting with Land Art as we are already familiar with it, it also goes under the name of Eco-art or Earth Art. This art uses only materials that are found in natural habitats to create various landscapes and sculptures. As spring is coming along, a mosaic made of pebbles in your garden is an easy way to get into this medium.
Upcycling - Another familiar concept, upcycling represents the objects that are considered broken or unusable used to create. This is an example of art with an abundance of resources as the waste created by us, humans, becomes a bigger issue day by day. Taking unwanted materials and finding a way to reuse them is pure artistry and a unique approach to the issue.
Closed Loop Fashion - If you happen to be a Gen Z or Millennial, you might be aware of the infamous skinny jeans vs baggy jeans debate. Whether you think that skinny jeans are unwearable or not, the truth is, it doesn’t matter. Trends tend to fuel fast fashion, which has a highly negative impact on the environment. As a response manufacturers of the industry come up with more eco ways to produce clothing. In your everyday life, you can contribute by slowing down on following trends that make you change your wardrobe every six months and investing in long-term, timeless pieces instead. You can contribute to slowing the clothing waste by upcycling, donating, buying from sustainable trends or rethinking the wearability of the clothes you have. So, give your skinny jeans another chance!