Eco Art: Broaden Your Canvas

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The envi­ron­men­tal artist Andy Goldswor­thy has def­i­nite­ly tak­en snow­men to the next lev­el by con­struct­ing giant egg-like struc­tures out of sheets of ice, rocks and oth­er mate­ri­als found in nature.Goldswor­thy uses the ele­ments of nature to build struc­tures that both blend in with the envi­ron­ment and the forces of change. Goldswor­thy states, “When I work with a leaf, rock, [or] stick, it is not just that mate­r­i­al itself, it is an open­ing into the process of life with­in and around it. When I leave it, the process con­tin­ues.” His work is often tem­po­rary, and although it might run down a stream, erode into the dirt, or be swal­lowed by the tides, the art still exists in some form. If you’re not into all of that art­sy non­sense, you can still have a hell of a good time play­ing in the dirt, leaves, or snow. Here are some fine exam­ples of art projects that are acces­si­ble by all.

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Wil­low Sculpting
Wil­low is by far the coolest plant when it comes to liv­ing sculp­ture. For­get trim­ming the hedges, go find a patch of swamp wil­lows and clip off a bunch of the new growth. What’s inter­est­ing about wil­low is its abil­i­ty to sur­vive. Wil­low has one of the strongest root­ing enzymes of any plant, which means that if you take clip­pings of new growth, soak them in a buck­et of water for a few days, then stick them in the ground, they’ll re-root and even thrive. Wil­low can also be very eas­i­ly trained and shaped to grow just the way the artist wants it. It’s a slow process, but with enough patience, you can grow beau­ti­ful struc­tures. Wil­low artists are capa­ble of cre­at­ing the most intri­cate bench­es, chairs and huts, but with enough time, entire vil­las of woven, liv­ing wil­low have been constructed.

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Moss Art
Graf­fi­ti can be an inter­est­ing way to add art and col­or to a blank, bor­ing wall. The down­side to this type of out­door art is that it’s typ­i­cal­ly looked down upon by build­ing own­ers as “not awe­some”. Moss how­ev­er, is a lot hard­er to get upset about than spray paint. It also looks bet­ter on your fence. The process of mak­ing moss paint is fair­ly easy, and as long as the paint is kept moist, the method is fair­ly suc­cess­ful. The paint is a mix­ture of moss (of course), but­ter­milk, water, sug­ar, and corn syrup; all of the ingre­di­ents are blend­ed togeth­er. Once the mix­ture is com­plete, all you have to do is apply a healthy amount of moss paint and wait. Soon your design will spring out off the wall, mak­ing all of your friends think that you’re some kind of magician.

Earth­en Oven
Even your out­door kitchen can be an orig­i­nal work of art. This type of project involves work­ing with mud and straw in order to make an out­door oven that’s com­plete­ly unique, envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly and above all, effec­tive. Earth­en ovens are made by first cre­at­ing a brick plat­form for your food to be baked upon. Then you pile wet sand upon the plat­form in order to cre­ate a dome. Using a mix­ture of clay, straw, and a bit of sand, the real art­work begins. The point here is to form a thick wall around the sand dome while adding a small chim­ney as well as an open­ing for the oven door. After smooth­ing out the sur­face, ambi­tious artists will sculpt designs or even add small tiles for dec­o­ra­tion. Once the mud mix­ture dries, sculp­tors will remove all of the loose sand inside and install on oven door.

It may take some time before you’re build­ing your own wil­low vil­lage, and the work of eco-artists isn’t like­ly to be dis­played in muse­ums for cen­turies to come, but who’s to say that that makes it any less mean­ing­ful? Besides, it’s so much more fun to be cre­ative out­side than hunched over a desk, scrib­bling vio­lent­ly on flat­tened, bleached tree pulp.