There is a fascination for uniqueness across the globe. Everyone wants to create a one-of-a-kind experience, whether it be in the realm of art, entertainment, brands, or even weddings. Zero-waste weddings, recycled-material artwork, and even incense sticks produced from floral debris have all been used to promote sustainability. Kintsugi, a Japanese technique whereby shattered pottery is recycled and given a new life by uniting the ceramic using glue impregnated with gold or another precious metal, is one such idea that has gained popularity recently. This technique has been used recently to elevate ceramics into a brand-new product of fashion, dinnerware, kitchenware, or any aesthetical art item. The need for a harmonious coexistence between humans and the environment is amplifying as the globe is heading for advancements. Global climate change is already a result of a little imbalance. Therefore, minimizing these consequences becomes necessary, and sustainable living moves to the fore. The creative industries have begun to advance social, environmental, and sustainability concerns. 

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Kintsugi _©Pantechnicon

Sustainable Art: By the Past, For the Future

Many parts of the world have been following sustainable art long before sustainability was known to people. Africa has a long history of using materials native to nature to produce beautiful art pieces that hold aesthetic and traditional value. Even energy used to produce all these products is sourced from the organic waste of the town. All the artwork is subservient to nature and passed on through generations which form a part of their creative expressions. Upcycling and reusing techniques have been long used in African and Japanese cultures. Egyptian tombs and Renaissance arts have used sustainable pigments in paintings in the previous centuries. Some of the artists came up with emphasizing nature in their artworks, helping to move ahead adapting and glorifying nature. Actual materials promoting sustainability became prominent in the mid-20th century. Awareness and advocacy for balancing nature and reducing climate crisis brought out sustainability to the lead.

Afflatus of the Art

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Corail Artefact _©jeremy-gobe_optimized

Taking nature as an inspiration for understanding the need to conserve the environment, artists have been promoting sustainable art. The documentation of landscapes using photography and poetry has been emphasizing the effects of the climate crisis. Artist Angeles Pena helps to capture the environment through photos and poetries. Artist Jeremy Gobe uses lace with eco-friendly concrete, aquariology equipment, and a variety of materials to represent the Coral Reefs and activities intended to increase awareness among people, thus leading to the form Corail Artefact. Photographers Edward Burtynsky, J. Henry Fair, and several others have been putting up photographs to awaken the masses constantly scrolling through social media.

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Photography showing Appalachian old-growth forest decimated by Mountaintop removal _©Fair J Henry

Art Unveiling the Environment

Environmental art is an art that blends history and modernity while promoting environmental ethics and natural protection. It goes beyond simply capturing the landscape to warn everyone about the environment’s degradation. Through the use of recycled materials, found artifacts, and natural resources to produce works of art that would not only preserve the environment but would also celebrate and defend it, artists of many countries have utilized their talents to define sustainable art across a variety of media and periods. Olafur Eliasson used 12 masses of ice that were modeled and arranged in Place du Pantheon. This was known as the Ice Watch as these blocks were put in a clock formation. It stated that 1000 such blocks of ice were lost throughout the year implying the significance of climate calamity increased global warming. Hence showcasing the people that it’s the real deal.

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Ice watch by Olafur Eliasson _©, Olafur Eliasson

Particle Falls is another digital art project that Andrea Polli created to track air pollution. This artwork depicts a waterfall and its flow represented the air quality. The air pollution is minimal while the waterfall is quiet. The waterfall resembles a seething disturbed slurry flowing down the side of the structure when pollution levels are high. This visualization shows real-time data that can be seen and used, making it accessible to anybody strolling through the streets. The parasitic association of nature and humans is especially noticeable in Samuel Maita’s artwork as he uses pictures of animals and the environment to make strong societal criticisms. Technology and responsibility work hand-in-hand to give environmentally sane output.

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Global Parasite, artwork by Samuel Maita _©Artsper, Samuel Maita

Art incorporating Environment

Best out of waste is the most common topic for everyone to understand and work around nature. Such materials are unique in their way and their usability as waste puts it in the silver lining. Hiroyuki Nishimura uses timber that is unsuitable for anything else to carve sculptors, hence reducing waste. Choi Jeong Hwa uses plastics and non-biodegradable materials to create installations, and art pieces to decorate. Marina DeBris uses ocean pollution waste and transforms it into fashion calling it ‘Trashion’ highlighting the seriousness of the situation. This is not only informing people about it but also letting them observe and help actively participate to minimize it.

Dandelions, made of Kitchen Pots & Pans _©MMCA Seoul,

Zelda Zinn and other artists have used trash discovered on beaches or in landfills to criticize the unsustainable throw-away civilization yet encourage others to live sustainable lives. Swapna Namboodiri created PlaBots, which are miniature “footballers” constructed of PET bottles, one of the most prevalent causes of pollution. These 18-centimeter football player representations are made of plastic and wire and may be recognized by their shirts. Sustainability and upcycling are at the heart of all their practice. Artist El Anatsui has been combining uncomplicated found objects into magnificent assemblages that have mesmerized his audience. All of this is done to create environmentally friendly artwork and encourage others to do the same.

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PlaBots, artwork by Swapna Namboodiri _©Special arrangement, The Hindu
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Zelda Zinn Debris artwork _© studioshothi,

Art synonymous with Environment

The ‘Land Art’ movement from the 1960s depicts how people and nature interact, making the environment both the artwork’s topic and the material from which it is made. Spiral Jetty is the perfect example of land art made by Robert Smithson. A giant spiral of basalt rocks weighing around 6000 tons. The shattered terrain, shifting water levels, and salinity of the water all reflect the artist’s interest in the idea of entropy. Smithson envisioned a piece of art that is always changing, whose shape is never permanent, and that degrades as soon as it is created. With utmost care taken, the art landscape reflects the impacts of the sea.

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Spiral Jetty, artwork by Robert Smithson _©AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

The Beach artists use sand as their canvas and sand as their material to establish a dialogue between their work and its viewers, followed by their work and its surroundings. As the tide smoothly sweeps away all creations, they create alluring patterns in the sand that simultaneously highlight the force of nature and the beauty of the beach. As a result, the desire for sustainability is communicated and this harmonious ideal is expressed. Sam Dougados, Andres Amador & Sudharshan Pattnaik have a knack for producing alluring sand art on the beaches. Even the ice sculptors that are created on icy mountains are subjected to the meteorological conditions hence making it part of the natural landscape and dissolving it within nature.

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Andres Amador Disc Sutro Baths _©
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El Anatsui Nukae, Aluminum and copper wire _©Wikimedia

Architects and architecture employ the use of sustainable materials, optimize energy consumption and use passive design strategies to produce structures that have a negative carbon footprint during construction and post-construction. Sustainable art initiatives and art platforms complying with UN Global Goals have been coming together to make an impact and create a difference. ‘Artivism’ with ‘artivists’ are encouraging people to create art by embracing the beauty of hope and talking about empathy with the surrounding. Eco-Conscious creations take on many different forms across the world. It indicates that while the purpose of sustainability in art still has an impact, it is now more deliberate and evident. Artivists have started producing works that act as a link between beautiful visual displays and encouraging ecologically responsible compositions, whether it is via the use of sustainable materials and processes or through art that sparks discussions about the trend.

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Upcycled Scrap Art _©
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Zoya is an Architect trying to break stereotypes. She is an avid reader with progressive perspectives on every aspect with her own quirk. She believes that architecture needs simplistic approach to innovate complexities. She loves Bollywood and wants her words to reach far & wide!