Monday, September 7, 2009

Eco Art

Art can be used for many purposes besides rendering and beauty; one example of this is activism in the arts. Artists often use their work to draw attention to environmental issues and places. Some artists transform nature to draw attention to the beauty of the area; one example of this is James Turrell.

Other artists use not only their work, but also the process of approving and creating their pieces to engage the community. Christo and Jean Claude created a piece called running fence; they went to many town meetings to get the project approved. During these meetings people argued about the meaning of art, property ownership, and their landscape. Eventually they were able to erect a fence that followed the hills and valleys of the earth and was made of slightly transparent white sheets of fabric. The end result only remained for a few days but beautifully caught the light and drew people’s attention to the splendor of their countryside.

Andy Goldsworthy’s art is not as political as the work of Christo and Jean Claude, but beautiful nonetheless. He immerses himself in a natural setting for a period of time and creates art using only what he finds. Some artists care more about the physical effect of their art then how visually pleasing it is. Jackie Brookner’s art actually helps to filter the air and water while being aesthetically pleasing.

Next week we will all be able to personally meet the “eco-artist” Betsy Damon who works specifically with water issues. In her piece living water garden, "Polluted river water moves through a natural, and artistic treatment system of ponds, filters and flowforms, making the process of cleaning water visible." Later on the Beehive Collective, a political and environmental art making organization, will also visit UD.


Take some time to look through some of the artist’s work and artist’s statements.

James Turrell:

Christo and Jean Claude:

Andy Goldsworthy:

Jackie Brookner:

Betsy Damon:

Beehive Collective:

For more artists:


  1. Sweet blog Leah! There is also a glass blower named Chihuly who does some really cool things with rivers and ponds. I am not sure if he is politically motivated but I'll try to find out. He has an exhibit exhibit at the Franklin Park Conservatory (in Columbus) and it is really cool. I would recommend it if you're ever in Columbus.

    Examples of his river/water art:

  2. Reading about Betsy Damon really got me excited about her presence here on campus. I worked in cincinnati with a New York artist by the name of Jackie Brookner who made cement sculptures that (with the aid of mosses) cleansed runoff water before it entered the river. Betsy's work reminded me a lot of my friend Jackie. Wouldn't that be cool if she was inspired by Dayton and decided to do a project here? What if she wrote a grant and did a project that beautified our river and post-industrial city? Oh the possibilities. When does she get here?

  3. She must not have ever finished her book "The Power of Living Water"....I've looked for it all over the web and can't find it.

  4. There used to a really really cool Chihuly display at the St. Louis Botanical Garden. The blown glass peices were encorperated into the plants, fountains, and ponds. It was really interesting to see the juxtaposition of the living plants and the industrial glass sculptures. Some of the pieces are still there and I have some really neat picture if anyone is interested.


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