Welcome to Green Friday!

Welcome to the first ever Green Friday Synchronized Blogging Event!  Synchronized blogging is “where a group of bloggers agree to post on their own blogs on the same broad topic on the same day” (Wikipedia).  Green Friday started with an invitation I posted on Art Education 2.0 for art education bloggers to respond to the question “How might we use art or design to promote a healthy environment and a peaceful, sustainable world?” Five other bloggers agreed to participate and links to their blogs are included at the end of this posting.  My contribution to this event is an expansion on a column I wrote for this month’s SchoolArts magazine that focuses on promoting eco-friendly practices in the art classroom.

14 Eco-Conscientious Artists and Designers

Many artists and designers today are working to raise the public’s environmental awareness and solve ecological problems by collaborating with local garbage disposal agencies, revitalizing urban waste sites, recycling discarded materials in their work, designing environmentally-sensitive products, and much more.  Here, in no particular order, are fourteen such artists and designers from around the globe whose work can serve as catalysts for encouraging your students to come up with creative ways to promote eco-friendly life styles and to recycle waste materials, thereby conserving our natural resources.

  1. Susan Leibovitz Steinman frequently uses materials salvaged from community waste streams to construct public art installations and sculpture gardens that explore links between local daily life and environmental issues. View highlights from Steinman’s 30+ years of making eco-friendly art on her website.
  2. Design Can Change was set up by a group of designers at smashLab in an effort to unite the world’s graphic designers to use their influence and purchasing power to combat climate change.  Over 2,000 designers from 80 countries have taken the The Design Can Change pledge and committed to more sustainable practices.
  3. Virginia Fleck creates mandalas from plastic bags analyze the activity of consumerism as a spiritual encounter. The resulting works, each crafted from thousands of used plastic bags imprinted with familiar logos and slogans, can be both humorous and unnerving. [via thriving too]
  4. Artist and environmental educator Nancy Judd, who I’ve featured here before, designs and creates high-fashion garments from throw-away materials including rusty nails, junk mail, Target bags, soda cans, crushed glass, old cassette tape, bottle caps, and more. Showing your students Judd’s work would be a perfect inspiration for staging a Recycled Fashions show at your school.
  5. African sculptor El Anatsui uses found materials like bright-colored bottle caps, golden bands from discarded liquor bottles, and discarded tops of evaporated milk cans to weave large tapestries that resemble bolts of kente cloth, native to Ghana where Anatsui was born. View works by Analsui and listen, via podcasts, as he discusses three of the objects in his 2008 solo exhibition at the National Museum of African Art.
  6. The Museo Aero Solar is a solar-energy-powered hot air balloon made from recycled plastic bags that have been taped together. Argentinian artist Tomas Saraceno conceived the Museo Aero Solar as a way to spread awareness about global warming and the evils of plastic bags in the environment. Learn more about the Museo Aero Solar, view photos and video of it at different locations, and get instructions for creating your own solar-powered inflatable on the project’s website.
  7. Sandy Schimmel creates impressionistic portraits that are made up of tiny bits or tiles of color and texture cut from unwanted materials, such as junk mail, business cards, old greeting cards, and so on.  Schimmel’s portraits have both painterly and mosaic-like qualities owing to the way she carefully hand-cuts and hand-fits each piece of the image she’s working on, which may actually number in the thousands by the time it’s finished.
  8. Israeli designer Abu YoYo has designed a line of handbags, wallets, book covers, kitchen accessories and purses made out of street-side advertising material.  Each of her bags, made out of used advertisement banners, is unique–no two bags have the same pattern on them.
  9. Jean Shin transforms discarded items into compelling and conceptually rich installations. Shin’s works, which address both formal and cultural issues, incorporate obsolete materials such as worn shoes, used prescription bottles, or broken umbrellas that she gathers from friends, relatives, or members of the community surrounding the venue for her work.
  10. Michael Anderson collects advertising posters from the streets of New York and creates pop cultural collages from them. According to the Wooster Collective, Anderson “With his art, Michael engages in the act of upcycling – transforming and reducing a degenerative form of art – advertising – into something of far greater value.”  View a selection of collages from Anderson’s current exhibition Collage Geomancy at the Marlborough Gallery.
  11. David King is another collage artist who re-uses and re-imagines old images into entirely new contexts and meanings.  You can view work that King produced as Artist in Residence at the San Francisco Dump from October 2008 to January 2009 on his website.
  12. Cara Barer takes old, discarded books, soaks them in water, and then forms them into sculptures that she then photographs. Barer says “I arrive at some of my images by chance. Others, through experimentation.”  Either way, the results are quite striking!
  13. According to reusablebags.com, between 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year, and billions end up as litter each year.  Some of those plastic bags became the subject of Chinese artist Huang Xu, for his current London debut exhibition at the October Gallery.   Huang Xu collected plastic bags from rubbish heaps in China and then digitally remodeled them using 3D scanners normally used by archaeologists.  For Huang Xu, the resulting oversized C-prints explore “the fragile nature of the contemporary global economy.” [via thriving too]
  14. John Dahlsen scours Australian beaches for plastics, flotsam, jetsam, driftwood and other discarded materials that he uses to environmental art totemic sculptures, assemblages, and prints.   Learn more about his work in Kimberly Brooks’s April 2008 article and interview in The Huffington Post.

Six Blogs, One Topic: Promoting A Peaceful, Sustainable World

Now, check out what the other bloggers participating in  Green Friday have to share with you and your students.

  1. Blissful Thoughts w/Chan Bliss
  2. The Carrot Revolution w/David Gran
  3. Jean Fitz’s Weblog w/Jean Fitzgerald
  4. Learning IT w/Frank Curkovic
  5. The Teaching Palette w/Theresa McGee + Hillary Andrlik