Honors Projects for Arts and Sciences

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    Contemporary Art for Earth's Sake
    (University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2011-05-09) Cooper, Ailsa ; Drexler, Debra
    My thesis focuses on contemporary artists who are using their art to raise awareness about environmental issues. Some of the artists I introduce are Chris Jordan, Lynne Hull, Fritz Haeg, Nicholas Garcia Uriburu, and Vik Muniz. These artists are all very different, from a digital artist to a trans-species artist to a conceptual performance artist. However, they all have something in common, they are adding beauty and hope to the world while backing it up with research that educates the public in new innovative ways and inspires people to rethink their daily habits. While environmental activism often emphasizes the data and political talk surrounding the problems resulting from environmental degradation, the power of art suggests that it can be more beneficial for people to see thought-provoking artwork to remind them of their roles as stewards of the Earth. Often art provides people with a new outlook by using irony, humor, or a powerful image that will stay in people’s minds when they are flippantly discarding things that could be reused or buying products that are harmful to the environment. While researching these artists I have created my own artwork to encourage people to become wiser consumers. In my first piece, Bad After-Taste, I painted tiny rabbits in Lipton’s tea bags to represent Lipton and PG Tips’ procedures of cruelly testing on animals in order to claim health benefits for their tea. There is a great divide between consumers’ views of what they eat and drink and the reality of how the food or beverage is produced, just as there is between our views of the things we buy and actual practices of the companies we are supporting, which are often environmentally damaging or involve inhumane treatment of living creatures. I hope to pay homage to the exciting artists who encourage us toward a more sustainable and compassionate future, while joining these artists in creating my own art to put everyday injustices into a new light.