Humans have been making art of the earth and out of the earth for millennia. In the contemporary world these works are, variously, known as Earthworks, Land Art and Environmental Art. The inspiration found in nature is limitless. For some artists inspiration isn’t enough; they have to get their hands dirty! Stone, soil, water, sand, air and trees are just some of the materials used to re-shape the natural landscape.

You can get an introduction to the subject by viewing Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art and by reading The Spiral Jetty Encyclo: Exploring Robert Smithson’s Earthwork through Time and Space.

Time, temperature and seasonal cycles transform earthworks revealed in Projects by Andy Goldsworthy. For Ra Paulette, caves are his canvas. Check out the film, Cave Digger. You’ll find a self-taught sculptor who transforms interiors of hillsides into sandstone sanctuaries.

Is not earth the ultimate work of art? Everywhere, stunning displays writ large and small in simple and complex glory. Nothing is wasted. The environment makes use of everything. More than any previous time we are, acutely, aware of our impact on the planet. In the film Waste Land, artist Vik Muniz returns to Brazil and one of the world’s largest landfills, Jardim Gramacho. Catadores or pickers cull through mountainous heaps of garbage collecting items worthy of recycling. Here’s where the art comes in, as in Raw + Material = Art: Found Scavenged and Upcycled. Gramacho’s initial idea is scrapped. He and the pickers create a collaborative work that has larger implications than first imagined. Just as earth is the great recycler, we are, daily, realizing the need to become great recyclers, too.

Artists have a knack of making use of what society deems unusable. Artists turn items that are deemed unusable into objects of art. Check out the possibilities of reclamation in Art Without Waste: 500 Upcycled and Earth Friendly Designs, The Elemental Journal: Composing Artful Expressions from Items Cast Aside and Trash Origami.

Artists make new and unexpected uses of old, unfashionable and unwanted objects. A splendid example of fashion being refashioned is in the work of Nick Cave. So, get bold! Strut your stuff with Cut-Up Couture and Refashioned: Cutting-Edge Clothing from Upcycled Materials.

Get earthy! There’s an abundance of ideas for maintaining the health of the planet. Art-full inspiration can be found in the resource list E(ART)H.

~ posted by Chris

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