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Connecticut College

Publication Date

Fall 2008

Program Name

Australia: Sustainability and the Environment

Abstract

Art has embodied the relationship between humans and the natural environment throughout the ages. As this relationship changed, many artists began to address concerns about the ways humans interact with nature. Today, more than ever, there is a need for channels of communication to address the major environmental and sustainability problems of our time. This study examines how art is influenced by environmental and sustainability concerns and the ways in which it responds to such concerns. By investigating how artists, community organizations, festivals and other initiatives encourage public awareness about environmental and sustainability issues, the study explores art’s role in modern Australian society. Through this investigation the study attempts to answer the question of how art can affect socio-cultural or political change.

This study was conducted through interviews with artists and directors of community organizations, festivals and research institutes. Also, the study included a survey of people attending an art exhibit. In order to find and establish contacts with these people, I began background research on the internet and in libraries and eventually visited three art exhibits focused on environmental and sustainability themes. In addition, I visited several community organizations and took part in a festival celebrating the environment and promoting sustainability through certain art initiatives. As the culmination of the study, I created an art piece to address my own concerns about environmental and sustainability issues.

Through these investigations, I found that art is informed and can educate people in many ways about particular difficulties in man’s relationship with nature. Many artists address their individual concerns through art as a means of increasing their understanding of certain issues and/or healing feelings of anxiety. Although art is generally passive it has the ability to connect with people on emotional and subliminal levels, sometimes inspiring a heightened appreciation for nature or reevaluation of human progress. Also, creative projects can bring many people together, encouraging discussion about community concerns and possible solutions to environmental and sustainability issues. This kind of engagement gives art a particular advantage over other forms of communication. Ultimately, this study proves that there is an important role for art in society in educating and communicating between people significant concerns about the environment and sustainability. Art can assist in the transition toward a more environmentally conscious, sustainable society.

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities | Natural Resources and Conservation

 

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