The art of the environment

I’ve always dreamed of doing what Aldo Leopold did. This American forester, wildlife manager and conservationist took a mid-western American farmstead, impoverished by drought and poverty, and struggled to resurrect the soil and native flora. His efforts are chronicled in the book A Sand County Almanac, a series of essays “for those who cannot live without wild things.” Leopold was an early proponent of ethical land use, holding that the exploitation of the earth solely as an economic resource will eventually destroy both it and us.

There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot.” – Aldo Leopold in A Sand County Almanac

I’ve recently discovered several artists who use their art in attempting to improve our relationship with the natural world. One is an architect and conceptual artist who uses his skills to make a statement about the American obsession with the lawn.

An edible estate in Lakewood, California.

In 2005, Fritz Haeg, a Los Angeles-based architect, launched the project known as “Edible Estates” in which homeowners trade their mowed and ornamental lawns for artistic arrangements of organic produce. Haeg says he was drawn to the lawn — that “iconic American space” — because it cut across social, political and economic boundaries. “The lawn really struck me as one of the few places that we all share,” he says. “It represents what we’re all supposedly working so hard for — the American dream.” Haeg invites homeowners to replace their water-guzzling, herbicide-hungry lawns lawns with food-producing organic vegetable gardens. Go here to learn how to make your own edible estate.

Cool Globes is a public art project designed to showcase what people can do to help combat global warming. Local, national and international artists, as well as school children designed the Cool Globes using a variety of materials to transform a plain white sphere to create awareness and provoke discussion about a potential solution to global warming. Each globe is five feet in diameter, seven-and-one-half feet tall and weighs 2,300 pounds.

Tread Lightly For A Livable Earth advocates for the “carbon neutral concept.” Personal impact and responsibility inspired the Bouzide’s globe. Every action has an impact on the planet measured by greenhouse gas emissions or a “carbon footprint.” This globe is literally covered with footprints of children and adults layered over caution stripes, which represent land and water masses. Suggestions on how to reduce carbon footprints are a reminder that things can always change for the better.

Tread Lightly For A Livable Earth (Artists: Cathi Schwalbe-Bouzide and Paul Bouzide)

Conservation photography showcases both the beauty of our planet and its vanishing spirit, and it represents the ‘pictorial voice’ used by many conservation organizations to further their messages. Although traditional nature photography is good enough to do the job, the creation of images that inspire and move people to change behaviors and take action requires an understanding of the issues necessary to tell the story; this is the job of a conservation photographer.”

The photographs of World-class photographer Peter Dombrovskis have been instrumental in the conservation of various Tasmanian wild places.

What Is Environmental Art? “In a general sense, it is art that helps improve our relationship with the natural world. There is no definition set in stone. This living worldwide movement is growing and changing as you read this. Much environmental art is ephemeral (made to disappear or transform), designed for a particular place (and can’t be moved) or involves collaborations between artists and others, such as scientists, educators or community groups (distributed ownership). These variables can make exhibiting this work difficult for traditional museums so we created an online museum for global the environmental art movement.”


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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. C. Bouzide
    Oct 22, 2009 @ 10:48:43

    HI there!
    Thanks so much for the write up about our globe Tread Lightly… I appreciate it and try to live up to our recommendations as much as I can.

    You are everywhere!
    In art and agriculture,


    • madsilence
      Oct 25, 2009 @ 00:26:48

      Hi Cathi. Your comment allowed me to review this post and update. Thanks.

      Currently Leopold’s “goose music” is tempting me away from the keyboard as a storm approaches. Global warming has impacted on Long Island’s climate & growing season. Canadian geese no longer migrate but stay in place…and what a mess they make! :-)


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