Earth Awareness in Contemporary Art

Since 1906 companies have started to use plastic for everything, from drinks to car parts everything that people use today comes in plastic. It is estimated that plastic can take anywhere from 150 to 200 years to decompose, with this estimate we know that every piece of plastic that has ever been used still exists today. The recent spread of knowledge and awareness about the use of plastics and other negative environmental impacts has had an impact on the contemporary art community.

Contemporary art has a way of bringing up issues to start conversations. Art about global awareness can add to “discussions of climate change with the global discourse of sustainable development.” 1 Meaning that by starting a conversation, art about climate change and keeping the earth healthy can lead to conversations about how to fix these disastrous problems.

Some of the ideas that climate change art addresses include; rising water levels, animal extinction, ocean life conservation and many more global problems that art can bring attention too. This want to save the earth is a large part of the contemporary art era because most of the people creating contemporary art care about how to keep the environment healthy, whether it is shown in their art or not. Through the use of recyclable materials and not dumping their liquid materials, many contemporary artists show that they are aware of how to keep the earth healthy while creating their work.

Author of Art and Ecology Now, Andrew Brown, explains that artists that deal with nature can be split up into 6 groups; Re-View, Re-Form, Re-Search, Re-Use, Re-Create and Re-Act. The first three; Re-View, Re-Form, and Re-Search, all explain artists that use materials from the earth in order to create all types of art, from creating rock designs to making marks into the earth.

Re-Use is the term he uses to describe artists that create art that reflects on the way that humans “use and abuse the Earth’s resources” (Brown, 144). The Re-Create term is used to describe artists that use art to explain new ways in order to help the earth. Brown explains that these artists are the ones that “disrupt conventional habits” and thinking (Brown, 144). These suggestions and creations are often unrealistic and involve the artist’s humor. The last group that Brown splits eco-artists into is the Re-Search. This term is used to describe the artists that go out in the world and create art that makes a change in the environment. These artists create statements and about climate change and people’s effect on the earth, and while their impact may only be on a few people they have an ability to make an impact.

Photography and social media have allowed for people to view art online that they would never be able to see before the invention of the internet. This leads to the spread of art and ideas meaning that artists are able to make a statement with their art because more people will be able to see it. The discursive sites that these photographs generate are more widely spread than before social media. Making it easier for artists statements and opinions to impact others.

Artists are able to create environment art in many ways. From creating art from nature to creating art that makes a positive impact on the environment. This section will explore artists that fall into these categories and have chosen to create art based on nature and the human impact on it.



  1. Cohen, Stewart Jay, and Melissa W Waddell. 2009. Climate Change in the 21st Century. Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.



One Place after Another: Notes on Site Specificity, Miwon Kwon, October, Vol. 80. (Spring, 1997), pp. 85-110.

Cohen, Stewart Jay, and Melissa W Waddell. 2009. Climate Change in the 21st Century. Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

“Postmodernism.” Fredric Jameson : Live Theory. doi:10.5040/


Opening Contemporary Art Copyright © by Sarah Parrish. All Rights Reserved.

Share This Book