Confronting Environmental Collapse: Visual Culture, Art Education, and Environmental Responsibility

By Hicks, Laurie E.; King, Roger J. H. | Studies in Art Education, Summer 2007 | Go to article overview

Confronting Environmental Collapse: Visual Culture, Art Education, and Environmental Responsibility


Hicks, Laurie E., King, Roger J. H., Studies in Art Education


The news about Earth's environmental health is not good. The scientific consensus that human activities are contributing to global warming has solidified. The planet can look forward to rising sea levels, melting glaciers, significant changes in drought and rainfall patterns, species extinctions, ecosystem disruptions, more severe storms, new emerging diseases, and frightening levels of social and cultural dislocation. But will the world's governments and corporations act soon enough to curb the release of greenhouse gases and reduce other forms of environmental degradation?

This special issue of Studies in Art Education is a timely call to art educators to take up the challenge of confronting the environmental crisis. The environmental challenges ahead are complex and multi-dimensional. However, we believe that artists and educators can and must play a role in bringing about a more environmentally responsible and ecologically literate culture.

The arts and visual culture generally have always provided tools and a medium for negotiating the interface between culture and nature, the human and the "more-than-human." From the beginning, humans have used visual and material means to depict and invoke the forces of nature for both practical and spiritual purposes. By representing the non-human world in art we invest it with meaning and personal or cultural relevance. Thus, humans make a home in nature not just by engaging with the biophysical world in the practical search for food and survival, but also by articulating nature's meaning and import and imagining how their aspirations fit within the context of non-human realities. This is a cultural rather than a technological project.

In a time of mounting environmental damage and threatening future prospects, we believe the arts must help guide human beings towards a more informed and responsible engagement with the natural world. Learning to live in nature in a sustainable way is a cultural challenge to our very sense of who we are and what we should aspire to become. To meet that challenge, we need more than new energy efficient technologies and new sources of fuel. We need to re-think and re-imagine the human place in nature. This is one of the most pressing tasks set for artists, educators, and other cultural actors today.

There is precedent for the hope that the arts can contribute to the task of re-interpreting our relationship to the natural world. We know that when European colonists first came to North America, they often did not see beauty and moral significance in the landscapes they encountered. The wilderness they experienced was imbued with Satanic connotations and was to be feared. The colonists worked hard to domesticate the wild nature they found, motivated not only by practical need, but also by what wilderness meant. In the 1 9th century, painters, photographers, and poets began to re-imagine the natural world around them. They were instrumental in leading Americans to see beauty and ethical meaning in wild nature. Indeed, their works helped convince society that environmental appreciation and conservation were socially and politically significant.

More recently, artists have used their work both to highlight human relationships to nature, and also to actively remediate environmental sites.1 For example, artist Bob Johnson's work, River Cubes, involves public sculptures made from discarded junk removed from public waterways. The pieces draw attention to the waterways, while also raising questions about how we treat them. In a similar vein, Daniel Dancer's ZeroCircles project uses stone circles in mining or logging sites to advocate for zero pollution, or zero cutting on public lands. Artworks like these draw attention to environmental problems and help to inspire efforts at finding solutions. At another level, artists such as Betsy Damon, Aviva Rahmani, and Yolanda Gutiérrez create artworks that engage in environmental remediation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Confronting Environmental Collapse: Visual Culture, Art Education, and Environmental Responsibility
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.