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Environmental Art in Cities

What’s about environmental art? It’s not always urban per se, but you can find environmental artists and their works in cities more often then anywhere else. Environmental graffiti, murals, painting, sculptures, installations, bio art, digital art, performances, songs, photo/video, environmental design (fashion, buildings, technology), and other forms of art can be incredibly inspirational. Art has a huge power to unleash your imagination, send messages about urban sustainability and environmental justice, foster your creativity, express and convey deep meanings and feelings without words, and make a lasting emotional impact on participants of environmental education. And it’s great that anyone can be an environmental artist, and environmental art can be integrated in many environmental education programs that are trying to make cities more sustainable.

This photo collage features eight examples of urban environmental art. I took these photos in New York and Madrid. Clockwise starting from top left: cardboard birds in Central Park, environmental dance during the same event, restored remnants of an industrial site in the Bronx, environmental parade to celebrate the Bronx River, environmental mural in a garden in Madrid telling a story of how local people protected this place from development, creating an environmental mosaic in the Bronx, a painting in the Bronx Art Center, and environmental song performance organized by the Bronx River Alliance and other organizations in the Bronx.

To learn more about environmental art, I recommend these publications:

  • Weintraub, L. (2012). To life! Eco art in pursuit of a sustainable planet. Berkeley, California: University of California Press.
  • Thornes, J. E. (2008). A rough guide to environmental art. Annual review of environmental resources, 33, 391-411. doi:10.1146/annurev.environ.31.042605.134920
  • Haarmann, A., & Lemke, H. (Eds.). (2009). Culture, nature: Art and philosophy in the context of urban development. Illustrated volume. Berlin: Jovis.
  • Jacobson, S.K., McDuff, M.D., and Monroe, M.C. (2006). Using the arts for conservation. In Conservation education and outreach techniques (pp. 175-208). New York: Oxford University Press.