Artists often create work about nature as a way to draw attention to beauty in the natural world. But can their work also draw attention to pollution and the ways that Pittsburgh's environment can be dangerous?
In late March of 2017, just a few weeks before Earth Day, the first Enviro-Art Gallery showcase took place as a small gathering and presentation in the cafeteria of James River High School in Midlothian, Virginia.
More than 100 pieces of artwork was stapled to stacks of wood, rectangular easels placed sporadically throughout the small room. There was music playing, Canon in D offset by natural sounds and chirps, and cookies and donuts and lemonade for the guests. At the end of the three hour program, many guests left saying that the event had left a lasting impression on them and their relationship with the environment.
From these humble beginnings, the Enviro-Art Gallery has expanded into an international program. Now in its fifth year, it officially kicks off April 5 in a virtual format featuring more than 600 works of art: paintings, drawings, poetry, videos, and more, submitted by students and artists from across the U.S. and representing every continent except Antarctica, and 15 guest speakers touching on issues from ocean conservation to forests, plastics, and injustice.
Sea Turtles by Olivia Fox
Grateful for the Stars, Equanimity by Beth Palmer
通幽 (Leading to a Secluded Spot) by 斯凡
The Gallery presents art as a call to action, working to connect people to places, ecosystems, and international experiences of nature through engaging visual dialogues. Its mission is to inspire greater environmental stewardship through the creation and the sharing of environmental art.
This year's Gallery is designed to bring people together during a difficult period of separation. Despite lockdowns and physical distance, environmental issues tie us together. This year's showcase hopes to spotlight those similarities: from Australian bush fires to California wildfires and plastic pollution in China to the microplastics in the Atlantic Ocean. And there is art and photography featured in appreciation for the beauty of natural scenes and stunning biodiversity—such as playing sea turtles, Galapagos Iguanas, and paintings of Appalachia.
Environmental art can act as an emotive window into our natural world and the ecological struggle for survival taking place.
The Enviro-Art Gallery's motto, "changing the world through creativity" hopes to facilitate that window, making these issues more accessible through the universal language of art.
In a letter to members of Congress, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday maintained its support for Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts while criticizing Maryland, which has threatened to take the agency to court.