Art for the World: Celebrate Earth Day
Every year on April 22nd, we are reminded to respect and celebrate the Earth we live on and express our support for environmental protection. Celebrated in over 190 countries each year, Earth Day has brought people together from all over the world to cherish and protect humanity’s home. Environmental groups have been working hard to raise awareness of climate change and other issues facing our Earth today, but artists have also been known to express their concern for the environment through their artwork, not only by using the earth as an artistic medium to redefine humanity’s relationship with nature, but by pointing out pressing issues that need to be addressed.
There are many artists that are part of this “eco-art” movement, all of whom intend to inspire others to contribute to the betterment of the earth. Agora Gallery artist Mark Schiff took part of (and is a finalist in) The Kennedy Center’s Maggie Daly Art Coop’s EarthFest Recycled Art Contest, which celebrates Earth Day by having artists demonstrate how everyday junk can be used to create new and beautiful things. British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist Andy Goldsworthy creates site-specific installations using materials such as flowers, icicles, leaves, mud, pine cones, stone, and twigs in order to work with nature as a whole and not alter the state of the materials. Seattle-based lawyer-turned-artist Chris Jordan uses photography to document the dangers that American consumerism poses on the environment. Artist Linda Gass uses fabric to depict water in places where water no longer flows.
The hope for these artist’s work is to shift viewers’ attitudes toward the environment and the choices they make, helping to promote positive action around climate change.
Agora Gallery is proud to represent several artists who incorporate earth, whether in materials or message, into their work, and is proud to highlight these artists today.
“On The Threshold Of New Life,” Earth & Adhesive on Paper Mounted on Board, 48″ x 48″
Madai Taylor addresses themes of disintegration, regeneration, and reproduction in his work by using earth to create his pieces. “To me, earth has been very intriguing and contains a mystic, organic beauty,” the artist says. “It is an original, primordial material that lends itself to an immense range of tone, nuance, and texture which I manipulate to create calm, thought-provoking, and non-subjective images, imbued with history, spirituality, and the struggle of mankind.” Gathering silt and clay from different parts of North and South America, Taylor creates a remarkably rich spectrum of warm blacks, browns, oranges, red oxide and terracotta hues in his pieces. He creates each work by making a unique mixture of the dirt and adhesives, which he then uses to draw, incise lines into, and build and wipe away layers of pigment. He cakes it, scratches it, and thins it, embracing the versatility of the material.
Taylor relates his use of organic materials to spirituality and meditation, which is reflected in the titles of his pieces. The earth symbolically connects to the body because it deals with roots, stability, foundations, nourishment, and growth. Layers of soil hold evidence of our existence on this earth. He wants his viewers to think about the profound spiritual questions in life: Who are we? Why are we? For what purpose are we here?
“EarthArt_007,” Giclee Print on Paper, 33″ x 23″
Having lived all over the world and worked as an established graphic designer, Rejane Dal Bello has not only been exposed to a variety of different cultures and environments but has an awareness for the qualities of structure and design in every thing that she encounters. Her most recent series, EarthArt, started when she was looking at Google Earth and noticed that the rivers resembled strokes of paint. Her work evolved with the use of technological programs to bring to light the textures and colors of Earth’s surface while also giving the viewer a new way to interpret our world.
Dal Bello’s work not only creates an awareness surrounding Earth’s landscape but actually creates a completely new map of an naturally artistic, flowing land. Her work was featured in a typographical biennale exhibition in South Korea and was also published in a book from the series UPO (Unidentifiable Paper Object) which shows a love for earth and the power of art.
“Blues,” Mixed Media on Canvas, 47″ x 59″
After moving to Canada in 1998, Israeli artist Zohar Wallach was overcome with the desire to paint and create art. Some of the main influences for her work are natural elements and forms. She enjoys the spontaneous alchemy that takes place between her mediums and allows them to naturally evolve in her works. Using paint, sand, copper, and pigment (often made from berries and other fruits), the artist scrapes, scratches, or blends the various elements to create almost geological layers of pigment and earth. She allows the chemical reactions to take place between the elements to reveal different structures, shapes, and colors, a process which can take up to several weeks.
Wallach wants her viewers to reflect on the natural forces that occur in nature and how they shape our world through a continuous process of transformation and change. Her aim is to highlight the unseen elements that hide deep beneath the surface, exploring the unknown and trying to find meaning in the work. Once the process starts, she follows it to the works completion. Wallach is fascinated by the patterns and shapes of geological forms and biological elements, which fuel her passion and curiosity to discover the harmony between different mediums and their relation to the human form.
“John in the Moonbeam,” Mixed Media on Wood, 24″ x 36″
French Canadian artist RenéeRose is inspired by nature, which shines through in her life and her artwork. Having worked on wildlife reservations for many years and as a nature photographer, the artist shares a profound connection to nature, which she expresses in her art. The qualities of wood in particular are very significant to her. Each piece has its own presence, character, grain, veins, and unique aroma. These qualities inspired her to build her own wooden canvases on which to display her art. Working in hard pastels allows her to have direct contact with the wooden surface. She also carved a wooden spatula that fits her hands perfectly to create her pieces. “As an artist, I like to reveal wood’s innermost natural beauty and celebrate life through this noble material,” she says.
Besides the wooden canvases on which she works, RenéeRose includes lifelike depictions of leaves and branching patterns in her art, emphasizing our connection to nature and the earth. Juxtaposed with abstract strokes and figures, the leaves and branches balance the natural elements in the wood. The texture and grain of the wood shines through in her work, accentuating the artist’s natural connection with trees and the importance of trees to humanity.
“Leafy Swan,” Mixed Media on Board, 48″ x 48″
Hailing from a small town in Texas, artist Sloane Merrick was not easily exposed to many art museums and galleries. What she experienced plenty of was the nature around her, which she describes as “the greatest art gallery of them all.” She credits the artistic freedom that she expresses in her work to her experiences as a child, being able to run and explore through the wide, open spaces of west Texas. “I think it only maximized my outlook on this earth and thinking outside the box hasn’t been a struggle, because there were few boxes in my world.” This love of freedom and nature profoundly impacted and inspired her to create her artwork.
Merrick describes her personal style as combining the grit of the Old West with sequins and feminine flair. She incorporates a variety of textures in her works, including fabric, wood, dirt, or coffee grinds, because nature is full of textures that all harmoniously blend together to create absolute perfection. Merrick’s works bring together the subject matter and materials found in nature, such as antlers, a beehive, and a desert flower represented on wood in mixed media. The main goal she has for her art is to heal others through beauty. The greatest reward for her is knowing that something she created brought light and life into someone’s world.
“Regeneration,” Alabaster, 14″ x 9″ x 8″
Julie Warren Conn finds natural minerals from all over the world and transforms them into open, flowing sculptures, which take on both abstract and figurative forms. She directly carves the works of marble and alabaster herself or collaborates with a foundry to create bronze editions of stone pieces. “From the influences of personal relationships, the wonders of nature, and extensive world travel, I develop and define each work of art,” the artist says. Originally a welder, Conn decided to take a break from steel and complete a sculpture of Tennessee marble that she had roughed out using only a hammer and chisel. “When I began to polish the stone and the beautiful qualities of coloration, veining and composition were revealed, I never had a desire to return to welding,” she says.
Conn carves her materials directly by hand or with electric tools to create various shapes and organic forms, bringing the beautiful variations of marble and alabaster to the surface. After roughing out the stone, she spends hours grinding, sanding, and polishing the surface of a piece, additionally hand sanding for a highly refined, smooth finish. In choosing her materials, Conn prefers to work intuitively rather than having a preconceived idea of what will evolve. “It is the love of stone and the very difficult process of bringing it to fruition and working to achieve “that” masterpiece, which keeps me thriving.”
Looking to be more environmental with your own artistic work? Read more about how to “go green” on Agora Gallery’s advice blog.
If you’re interested in any of these artist’s work, you can find each artist on ARTmine or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.