Eco-art and Insects–Two Artists Tackling the Planet
Agnes Denes merged her wide ranging interests in philosophy, literature, and physical and social sciences, and became an early pioneer of the environmental art movement. In one of her best known projects, Wheatfield–A Confrontation, she planted a two-acre wheat field in a vacant landfill in downtown Manhattan.
The artwork yielded 1,000 pounds of wheat which traveled 28 cities worldwide in The International Art Show for the End of World Hunger, and was planted as a symbol for ending starvation. The work was intended to show the potential of the unused site and the economic disparity between land use and its value in Manhattan. The local community volunteered in the planting and harvesting of the wheat, and many expressed that they were deeply affected by the experience.
Deses's Tree Mountain–A Living Time Capsule, used mathematical applications to organize the planting of ten thousand different trees by ten thousand different people.
The trees were planted in a spiral which descended from the top of a gravel pit in the Finnish mountains. Again, the project was a worldwide effort which urged people to plant and become custodians of a tree.
Each participant received a certificate recognizing and commemorating their role, and the trees are maintained in order to hold back land erosion, provide a home for wildlife, and create interaction between individuals.
On a much smaller scale, Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, through her employment illustrating laboratory-mutated flies for scientific publications, became so taken with the work that she began to paint them in her free time. Moved by the Chernobyl disaster, she began collecting, studying, and painting insects found near nuclear plants and fallout sites.
Her careful documentation and studies of these insects, which led her all over Europe and the United States, highlight the effect nuclear power has on the most minute nooks of the natural world. Sadly, although Hesse-Henneger is a trained scientist of 25 years, her work is still not widely recognized in the scientific community as it refuses to see the paintings as sufficiently objective.
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