Mary Ellen Aldrich, Arts & Culture Editor
The idea of art in nature, both as human-generated pieces and as a naturally occurring phenomenon, is something that is of intrigue to many people. Everyone will at some point look at some small product of nature and marvel at its existence. However, these things are all around, always. Yes, even in the dead of winter when it’s 9 degrees fahrenheit and everyone’s fingers and noses are frozen, there is beauty. Winter is, perhaps, when a majority of natural beauty can be found. From the sunlight reflecting off of tree branches, to the small granules of snow and ice clinging together in little statues, there is beauty all around if one only looks for it. Some people notice it, some take a second to document the finding and others will walk past, oblivious to the small marvels around them. While this natural art can be stumbled upon, it can also be sought out. There are those, however, who choose to neither wait for it nor seek it out, they instead create their own art within the limits of nature, and sometimes stretch those limits.
Several artists have made it their life’s work to combine art and nature, through adding human-made constructions to the natural landscape and complimenting its beauty, or by working with the elements and items readily available in nature. Often this work is temporary, soon taken down and recycled, or naturally falling away with the passing of time.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude have done artwork all over the world, literally using the earth as their canvas. Their pieces are planned out in great detail before being put in place. Once they have completed the work, it remains for a short time and is then removed to make space for new works of art. Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work is done in charcoal, wax crayon, pencil and many other mediums as individual art pieces that double as blueprints before being fashioned into their life-sized renditions.
One of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects involved the placement of 3,100 giant umbrellas being placed across an 18 mile stretch of land in California and a 12 mile stretch of land in Japan. This project engaged corporations and private landowners and many other community members. They engaged communities in helping with the temporary art project to foster connection and collectivism across not only cities, but also countries. Their projects often tie in culture, community and artwork, generating beautiful, yet temporary, scenes that leave lasting impressions. Some of their other projects have involved wrapping entire stands of trees in fabric and lacing islands in floating magenta polypropylene sheets. Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s current work of art is a sculpture for the United Arab Emirates which will include 410,000 multi-colored barrels.
Andy Goldsworthy, a British artist, has an approach to art which maintains more of a natural element than Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work. Goldsworthy melds art and nature in a manner that makes it seem as though the works of art are generated by the earth itself. Goldsworthy takes the naturally occurring beauty and forms it into pieces of organized art. By using frost, sticks, seaweed, ice, leaves and other things, he creates simple yet magnificent pieces. Some of his art is complex, such as balancing stones just-so to create round hollow mounds resembling eggs and pinecones, or as simple as laying on the ground right before it rains, leaving behind a crime-scene-esque outline. This manipulation of natural surroundings combines art and nature in a seamless fashion, using childlike playfulness and artful skill and precision in each masterpiece.
The creation of art is not restricted to big names or professionals, art is something created by anyone who dares to put their work out there. All too often people are discouraged by the fear of judgement, preventing them from sharing their work and barring others from enjoying the beauty others can capture or create. The creation of art, through any medium, upon any canvas, is art worth sharing. Be bold, capture, create, share, for all the world is a canvas.