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Art, Design & Sustainability

I’ve been thinking about art & nature for a while now (see my previous post HERE.) Now that spring seems to have pretty much almost sprung in Ontario, I am even more aware of the importance of nature to our wellbeing and the need to protect it.

G_9_Grow OP_Marcin Barciak
An image from last year’s Grow Op exhibition, at the Gladstone Hotel. Image courtesy Gladstone Hotel.

I’m not the only one. From April 24 – 27, Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel will soon be hosting Gladstone Grow Op: Exploring landscape and Place, the second year of this very worthwhile exhibition where artists & designers take over the hotel’s second floor exhibition space with a series of creative, landscape-themed installations. (Read my blog of last year’s show HERE.)

This year, on April 26th, there will also be a food event called Equinosh, an “ambulatory feast for the senses” that celebrates food from Prince Edward and Simcoe Counties, in Ontario. Tickets are $10.

Many contemporary artists deal with the environment in their work in powerful ways. From Andy Goldsworthy to Edward Burtynsky to Christo, among many others. Art and nature have been closely intertwined for centuries. Perhaps it was the Camera Obscura that started it all – that contraption which allowed artists to create highly accurate representations of natural scenes.

Andy Goldsworthy, Woven branch circular arch, Langholm, Dumfriesshire, April 1986. Image: goldsworthy.cc.gla.ac.uk

Andy Goldsworthy, Rowan Leaves laid around Hole, 1987. Image:morning-earth.org

Christo & Jeanne Claude, Wrapped Trees, Fondation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Image: christojeanneclaude.net

Recently I came across an interesting initiative called the Lexicon of Sustainability. It’s an intriguing blend of Ted Talk, street art and community organization that uses art to spread the message of sustainability in food an farming (a topic that is close to my own heart.)

It’s all a big unwieldy, but essentially they translate ideas into “information artworks” (essentially handwritten text over photo collage which you can see below), which then become ‘pop-up’ exhibitions across the USA. The curators are members of the public who are passionate about the topic and rally communities into action.

An image from the Lexicon of Sustainability. Image: goodlifer.com

Another image from Lexicon of Sustainability. Image: milkwood.net

What began as a photography project now encompasses short films, study guides, traveling shows, a book and a website. You can check it out HERE, and watch some of the short (5 – 6 minute) award-winning films on sustainability.

I think it’s a wonderful way to blend art and activism at a time when we cannot rely on anyone––not governments, especially not corporations––but must do own own due diligence when it comes to staying healthy.

Get involved with Lexicon of Sustainability HERE.

Read more about environmental and eco-art HERE.

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