Sunday, January 6, 2013

Art for Endangered Places

Today I wanted to share some thoughts from a recent discussion I had with a collector, because her words touched me deeply, and I felt the idea deserved repeating.

The collector reached out with some kind words about one of my paintings. She shared the connection she felt to the piece (a landscape), and stated at the close of her message that she felt art would help "save our endangered places." Her message gave me pause. I read it over two or three times, because she had so succinctly stated an idea that had been in my heart for ages, but one that I had never thought to put into words. I love nature. I love being in nature, and I enjoy painting it. The natural world is beautiful, and stirring, and awe-inspiring.

But I do not paint images from nature simply because they are pretty to look at. I care passionately about the importance of wild places, and about preserving the environment, and it is that devotion - much more than simple aesthetic appreciation - which inspires my artwork.

The arts have a kind of power posessed by no other human endeavor. A painting or a photograph has the ability to preserve an image, while also preserving the emotional experience of that image, and sharing that emotion between artist and viewer. And that perpetuation of the feeling of nature is critical to its protection. If our society feels no connection to natural places, we will have no reason to care about their importance, and no inclination to take the steps necessary to save them.

This idea was already in my subconscious, but I have painted images from nature for years without thinking to articulate it. Now that it has been articulated to me, I feel an even greater sense of responsibility as an artist; a greater sense of the impact my work can have in the world, and an even greater awe that brushstrokes from my hand can connect my deepest, most heartfelt sentiments with those of a stranger.

It is a truly wonderful feeling to begin the new year with such a rousing epiphany. May your year, too, be filled with moments of joy, discovery, and enlightenment!

maine landscape, water photograph, mountains photograph, maine coast, environment, nature, nature art, preserving nature, protecting nature
 © Anna Bronwyn Foley, 2005

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