Environmental Art for Social Change

According to Rosi Lister environmental art is “A strategy for re-cognition, orientation and implementation…” On the website [1], Rosi continues with

The concept of environmental arts has become much more acceptable in the public psyche in recent years. Since the emergence of the ubiquitous sculpture trail, art-in-the-park initiatives and the general acceleration in public art commissions across the UK, the public seem to have mellowed their reception toward what were once considered by many as 'blots on the landscape'. However, the diversity of environmental art forms and their intentions still remain an anathema to all but those most closely involved in its practice; confusion setting in once beyond the literality of figurative sculpture.
In order that some clarity may be brought to what continues to be 'muddy waters' as far as the consuming or commissioning public are concerned, I propose three strands, or orders of distinction that will hopefully categorise environmental art practice and clearly establish its aims. Furthermore I will make the claim that all environmental artists are, in some way or other motivated by education and restoration of and about the natural environment, and that this is their uniting denominator.
The three strands (or orders of distinction) of environmental arts that I propose are as follows:

Rosi goes on to say

The third and most challenging strand of environmental art as I see it, is the art which engages with the social environment with pedagogical or activist intent. Neglected by Kastner & Wallis, Spaid uses the terms community action and agents of perceptual change to describe the 'interdisciplinary and participatory works' of artists who by their own volition remain unknown outside their field. This way of working is by its nature non-spectacular. It is primarily concerned with the changing of perceptions from within community groups. This is implemented through artist led participatory communications, that utilise a creative language to observe, question, debate, try out, and develop action-solutions.
It is most importantly motivated by a drive to change social attitudes and inspire environmental improvement

From Visual Culture and Nature, c/r CO-Gen/On-Line Magazine/2003.
“What is Environmental Art” by Rosi Lister
Ecoartpedia/Special Edition

POLIS, a collaborative blog about cities across the globe talks about Participatory Public Art in a Favela

Background Information
A favela (Portuguese pronunciation: [faˈvɛlɐ]) is the term for a shanty town in Brazil, most often within urban areas. A favela comes into being when squatters occupy vacant land at the edge of a city and construct shanties of salvaged or stolen materials. Communities form over time, often developing an array of social and religious organizations and forming associations to obtain such services as running water and electricity. Sometimes the residents (favelados) manage to gain title to the land and then are able to improve their homes. Because of crowding, unsanitary conditions, poor nutrition, and pollution, disease is rampant in the poorer favelas, and infant mortality rates are high.

Boa Mistura is an urban art group formed at the end of 2001 in Madrid, Spain. The term "Boa Mistura", from the Portuguese for "good mixture," refers to the diversity of perspectives of each member [whose] distinct visions complement each other, and combine to create something unique and coherent. [2]

The blog POLIS [3] states:

[In 2012] five Spanish artists spent almost two weeks living with a family in Vila Brasilândia, a favela on the outskirts of São Paulo, Brazil. Known as Boa Mistura, and describing themselves as "graffiti rockers," the group said in a publication that they "wanted settle in the slum, dissect it, smell it, live it and love it." The result was Luz Nas Vielas, a public art project in which artists and residents painted words like "beleza," firmeza" and "amor" on bright backdrops of flat color across the neighborhood's winding streets. The project is part of a series of participatory urban art interventions that Boa Mistura is leading in low-income communities and will be presented at “Virada Sustentável” in São Paulo on June 4-5, 2012. Boa Mistura shared their experience with Polis.

The blog goes on to say

With this kind of participatory urban art project, what we are looking for is to inspire, to use art in public spaces as a tool for change.
But the main reason why it is important to go there is because artists have the capacity to make people believe in change.

For additional information, go to Outsider Art for Social Change.

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