Does environmental art change people? Does every artist need to make a political statement or challenge something with their work? I really don’t think so. I’ve seen a lot of political or challenging art, and unless someone is there to unpack it with you it tends to have the opposite effect of what we want it to have. Most people aren’t equipped with critical thinking skills, its not something that’s taught in high school or in most academic degrees. Lets look at what some questions we can ask about making environmental art.
Does art have the power to change people?
Well that depends on the a few things: the person and the cause.
Some people are easily influenced in making changes, they want a better future, they want to have a better place, they find it easy to incorporate life changes. Others are overwhelmed simply thinking about it, the problem feels so massive and they feel like life is complicated enough.
As unfortunate as it may be, some people simply don’t care about the same things we care about or rather should care about. Those things can change depending on life situations, stories, time, age, financial situation, etc. As much as we want every single person on board for a certain thing like the environment, some people simply won’t care.
What can we do so that our art makes a lasting impact?
I think that one of the best ways that someone can try and make changes with their art is a call to action or a take home project. A major theme in work right now is the topic of the anthropocene. How we as humans are affecting the planet significantly. Most people don’t know how to make changes in their thinking or in their actions. Can you make a brochure or a take home project for people to use in their homes to enable better recycling or less waste? Make it simple, people are busy and we need to give them solutions that are fun or easy to help impact the environment. One step at a time, once one thing is conquered its easier to start making changes elsewhere.
Often times lots of us are busy trying to survive, we need simple steps to follow if we want to make an impact. We need small bite-size chunks and we need solutions not shame. We need encouragement even for the small things we do, because at the end of the day they do make a difference and we need to have recognition for the small things. So, now the challenge is to you, how can you make art that impacts, while including solutions for your audience?
Oh hello, welcome to my blog, hacking a BFA. Is it an academic blog or is it just an art blog? I don't really know. Some of this might be relevant to art students only, some of it relevant to art amateurs......does it really matter? I invite you to treat this blog as an art buffet. If you want something more in depth...its here, something more geared to art newbies....it's here. Enjoy!
Melissa Cayford is an artist, designer and educator bent on making art and art education more accessible.