Finding the Intersection Between Art and Ecology through my Area of Interest

I’m a declared Studio Art major with a concentration in sculpture.  My plan is to double major, declaring as an Environmental Studies major once I’ve taken ENVS 220.   Therefore, I will have an Area of Interest that combines Art and Environmental studies, most likely with a focus on sculptural art.  In terms of Environmental studies, I have a keen interest in Ecology and would like to incorporate that into my Area of Interest.

Reconciliation Ecology in Landscape Art in and/or near Aquatic Ecosystems

Reconciliation Ecology – coined by Michael Rosenzweig in Win-Win Ecology – urges the establishment and preservation of habitats in human-dominated areas, not just Protected Wilderness areas.  Rosenzweig argues that protected areas alone are not sufficient in protecting biodiversity.  Both Landscape Art – large sculptural work built into the surrounding Earth – and Reconciliation Ecology rework the surrounding landscape, therefore it makes sense to combine the two.  Why not create aesthetically pleasing, creative new habitats?  Ecologically beneficial landscape art redefines what people consider the “Environment” and “natural.”  The art is man-made, but it becomes part of the landscape and helps facilitate growth of biodiversity.  I am especially interested in Aquatic Ecosystems, which would cover both oceans and freshwater bodies such as lakes, rivers, and wetlands.

Descriptive:  Who is creating this type of art and what does this art look like?

Explanatory:  In what ways has this type of art been effective?

Environmental Justice in Art in Coastal Megacities

Environmental issues are closely tied with social justice issues.  Often, you can’t solve environmental issues without solving social justice issues and vice versa.  Environmental justice defines the world-wide problem of pollution, environmental degradation and general environmental hazards being unfairly placed on the poor, and often minority races.  This is often seen in megacities, which tend to be largely segregated and produce a lot of waste.  Urban art is often a way to create nicer looking areas, and change local attitudes in how they treat their neighborhood.  Coastal cities in particularly interest me because of my passion for aquatic ecology.

Descriptive:  What type of Urban Art has helped/is helping poor, polluted neighborhoods?

Explanatory:  In what way has art been aiding these neighborhoods? Psychologically? As a catalyst for changing these neighborhoods?  As an actually cleaning agent itself?

Waste/pollutant alternatives historically used in Large-scale art and Installations

As an artist myself, I often struggle with how many materials used in art are either wasteful or toxic/polluting.  Because art is seen as non-utilitarian, polluting in this way can be seen as self-serving and/or pointless.  This Area of Interest will help me with my personal artistic practice by looking into what works of arts/artists have had a positive and negative impact on the environment.  Large scale works of art and instillations – sculptures built into an indoor space in a way that works with the place it is displayed –  tend to require the most materials which makes this type of art a good focus for this Area of Interest.

Descriptive: During what periods of time, and by what artists was art the most and least environmentally harmful?

Explanatory: What are reasons for artists to use more or less toxic/wasteful materials?

Instrumental:  Are there materials artists can use that are environmental beneficial?