Since the beginning of the Millennium, world concern and awareness over environmental issues has increased massively. Various groups are taking shape to voice the environmental movement. Slogans have been raised, protests held, and marches and meetings are becoming a regular phenomenon.
Meanwhile, artists too are responding by developing active roles in environmental and social issues through their art form. Eco art, also held by a few under the umbrella terms of Environmental Art, Green Art, Trash Art or Recycled Art is indeed turning out to be a powerful movement to shape the environmental and ecological consciousness of the world.
To put in simple terms, eco art is the process by which materials which were about to be discarded as waste or have been recycled from waste are used to create beautiful art forms. The adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure is truly finding some meaning here. Materials such as paper, metals, old antique clock parts, scraps, plastic, tapes and cloth can be used to produce extremely interesting objects.
The amount of wood and paper thrown away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years. Every month Americans throw out enough glass bottles and jars to fill up a giant skyscraper, but all of these jars are recyclable! Surely, there can be a better value addition for all those plastic bags and cups instead of merely sending them to the landfills and this idea forms the theme of eco art.
The key take-away here is that this form of ‘Upcycling’ – converting waste materials or useless products into new products of better quality and better environmental value – is not just a creative recreation but a pressing necessity for the world today. The spirit of upcycling does not just start from creating materials of value from trash but also understanding the importance of simpler actions such as the need to avoid plastics and not litter the surroundings.
The next time, don’t be surprised if some wild and wonderful project ideas jump out at you from the recycle bins and throwaway boxes – you are simply transforming into an inspiring eco-artist and on your way to making a difference.
German artist HA Schult’s haunting ‘trash people’ have graced the streets of many of the world’s most major cities, from the parks of New York City to the Great Wall of China. The strange sculptures were made from crushed cans, computer parts and virtually anything else he could appropriate to assemble them.