Creativity isn't really about being original, it is about unique combinations. As a permaculture student and lover of environmental art, the connection of bringing together restoration to the land base in an artful way occurred to me. I recognized the power of art as the educator and I felt that if there was land, water, or air that had thoughtfully been remediated than how could that important message be shared. The message to be shared is the one of human as giving back, not just taking, the message of human as steward dedicated to an ecological restorative practice with the land, water, and air. Art seemed to be the best way to share this ethos, that this experience and way of being in the world could be possible.
Imagine a watershed restoration project that might be close to a trail. Imagine that integrated with the erosion control earthworks is a design that is a recognizable feature that attracts the attention of those passing by. This is an opportunity for those paying attention to briefly read that there is restoration of this site in progress and that the design they see integrated will be habitat, help with erosion, and provide shade for the fish in the river. The multiple levels of functionality going on in this scenario includes, actual land based restoration techniques (the science), artful use of natural materials arranged for functionality and appreciation (the art), educational enrichment for the passersby (the message), and as a site containing art this location could receive more protection in the future. Additionally, the long-term development or the evolving nature of this artwork could attract long-term interest from the public, further increasing the protection of the land. As long as the humans stay off the healing land that is. :)
I recognize that the conditions would need to be right in terms of the land base needs and access by the public for this idea to have a big impact. I believe artists residencies could be established that connects scientists, environmental artists, and landowners to provide this experience. A few artists have been working in this way. This is one of the best examples I've come across recently where artist Guy Riefler uses iron from a toxic river to make pigments and art to sell to fund the river clean up. Mel Chin's Revival Field is another one. I'm sure there are more out there and I'm looking forward to facilitating projects or being an advocate for this concept throughout my life's work. Please reach out if you are interested too.
The restorative environmental art movement is a vision that is associated with a larger vision of a restorative economy. This is an economy based on stewardship, sharing, and better design rather than endless extraction. My hope is that beautiful seeds of awareness are planted that helps inspire humanity to evolve back to participating with the earth like a conscious adult.