Earth911 is honoring the 52 years of Earth Day with 52 Actions for the Earth. Each week through Earth Day 2023, we will share an action you can take to invest in the Earth and make your own life more sustainable. It’s easy to slip into a mindset that the environmental movement is all about cutting back and speaking up. But it’s much more than just austerity and politics. At the heart of environmentalism is a profound connection to the creative energy of the natural world. This week, you can invest in the Earth – and yourself – through art.
Action: Create Art for the Earth
Art and the Environment
Most environmentalists are familiar with E.O. Wilson’s Biophilia, the book arguing that a natural affinity for life in all its forms is a central aspect of humanity. Studies have shown that time spent in nature has mental health benefits from lowered blood pressure to the relief of depression symptoms. Even having a view of trees from a hospital room has been shown to speed recovery. Art has similar benefits: Artistic activities such as sculpting, painting, or drawing are known to lower stress levels and promote calmness. Like time spent in nature, time spent in creative pursuits can help us better understand ourselves and ground us in our values. Nature is often an inspiration for art, from the landscapes of Van Gogh and Fan Kuan to the landforms of Robert Smithson, for whom nature was the medium as well as the subject.
Art for the Environment
Art has represented and celebrated nature since the very first cave paintings. But artists also create work with the purpose of protecting the natural world. In the past, artists accompanied explorers and painted the images that became influential in creating the parks that preserve natural areas today. Artists like Joseph Beuys, whose “7000 Oaks” made ecological restoration into an art form, and Aviva Rahmani, whose “The Blued Trees Symphony” blocked the destruction of a wetland by a fracking project, are directly protecting the environment with their creations. But many more artists are creating artworks that are inspired by concern for the health of the environment. EarthDay.org’s Artists for the Earth campaign employs art – by both professionals and amateurs – to engage the public with the critical issues of the environment.
Create Your Own Art
This week, spend some time outdoors for inspiration. Then create any kind of art you can. If you know how to dance, choreograph something. Or you can write a story or a poem. It can be a painting, a photograph, or any other medium. Spending time outside and expressing yourself creatively is an end in itself. But if you feel comfortable, share your creation with others. Let them know how your artwork relates to your experience of the natural world. Who knows? Maybe you will inspire someone else to pause and take a moment to connect with nature themselves.
If you really don’t have a creative bone in your body, you can share something that speaks to you from EarthDay.org’s Artists for the Earth gallery. You can also submit your own work to the gallery, and of course, tag Earth911 on social media to share your artwork with us.