Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Connecting with Nature Through Eco-Art: Discover an Effective Tool for Engaging with the Land that Inspires and Sustains You

by Kelly Johnson

Eco Art is a broad term to describe genre of art that addresses the human relationship with the earth. Eco Art or environmentally based art is not a new art niche by any means, and I have found that it is an incredibly effective tool for engaging students of all ages in the process of exploring their own relationships with the land that inspires and sustains them. 

The New World Museum believes environmentally based art is “The intermingling of art and the environmental is a phenomenon with roots in some of the earliest known human works.”  Humans have been expressing their thoughts about nature since their beginning. Whether to relay information on animal migration on a cave wall, to please a deity, or to express elements of science and beauty of the natural world, artists work to understand the human relationship with nature.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, art in the form of nature journaling was often used as a tool to engage in nature study.  While grounded in natural history, art was a way to
appreciate and connect with a natural world that was quickly becoming transformed by industry. The mid-twentieth century saw the Land Artists expressing their connection, or desire for connection, to nature by vastly manipulating large areas of land. Late twentieth century artists began utilizing natural forms and nature itself to draw public attention to environmental spirit and consciousness. Now, in the twenty-first century, environmental artists’ work seeks to invite the viewer to address issues such as finding a balance between media, pollution, and development with a human need for nature connection in a culture of convenience that often comes at nature’s expense.

Today, Eco Art is explored in a wide variety of ways from the hands-on manipulations of natural materials to journaling in traditional art mediums to creating online content. This flexibility makes it very attractive and approachable to people of all ages and interests in the natural world. My favorite aspect of Eco Art is that it frequently focuses on process and connection with the materials rather than a finished product. Process over product is such an important lesson which once learned frees us of any fears related with not being a “good” artist, allowing us to just have fun with the materials while exploring forms, textures, and colors in naturally inspiring environments. 

To learn more about the Connect With Nature Through Creative Journaling class from March 23 through April 11, 2015 from 2 to 4 p.m. at UNF Continuing Education, please click here. Registration is going on now!

Work Cited: Natural World Museum, NWM. Art in Action: Nature, Creativity and Our Collective Future. San Rafael: Earth Aware, 2007. Print.

About Kelly

Kelly Johnson (BFA, MA) is an artist, author, Montessorian, and children's gardener in Neptune Beach, Florida. Through her books, workshops, consultations, blog, courses, and handmade garden accessories Kelly inspires children and adults to connect with their natural world through gardening and the arts. Follow her blog at www.wingswormsandwonder.com.