Conservation Artwork

A NextGen Blog by Michelle O’Brien, University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

This is the latest post to our NWNL NEXTGEN BLOG series. Since 2007, NWNL has supported watershed education with college internships and blogging opportunities. This NWNL NEXTGEN BLOG series posts student essays; sponsors a forum for our student contributors; and invites upper-level students to propose work focused on watershed values, threats and solutions.

Michelle O’Brien is a student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, majoring in Environmental Science with a concentration in Conservation Biology. Read her earlier posts here.


Introduction

Art allows individuals to communicate messages regarding topics that are often controversial or have a great deal of stigma around them, almost creating a safe space to represent a particular message, concern or cause to be supported. Dorothea Lange’s photograph of the Migrant Mother demonstrates the ability to capture an era or moment in time through a visual form of art. Photographs, paintings, music, etc.., are universal forms of language. They express the moods, thoughts, experiences and historical significance of the time periods in which the art was created. No matter the language one speaks, art establishes a comprehensive widespread understanding.  

Throughout history, humans have documented their beliefs and experiences through various forms of mediums. Language and culture are forms of expression that have evolved over time and are continuously changing. Early civilizations used various forms of carvings and cave drawings to communicate with gods, document events, and convey important messages. Modern civilizations have enhanced the way people communicate and allowed artists to reach a global audience.

Types of Conservation Media

Conservation artwork is a relatively new form of art that allows scientists and artists to connect with the public regarding the importance of protecting our environment for future generations1Encyclopedia Britannica. As countries across the globe are experiencing dwindling water supplies, artists are coming together to spark awareness about our increasingly fragile planet.

Conservation art is expressed through multiple mediums, depicting everything from natural landscapes and polluted river streams, to endangered species and deforestation. There are many forms of conservation art including photography, music, poems, films, interactive instillations, and paintings. 

Hold Water Initiative

One way artists are raising public awareness is through the ‘Hold Water’ initiative in Jordan, the second most water scarce region in the world 2UNICEF Jordan. The USAID Water Innovation Technologies Project (WIT) launched the initiative in 2017 and has since completed 6 murals across the northern region of the country3Nour Zabalawi Communications & Outreach Advisor.

Mural for the USAID Water Innovation Technologies Project,
Nour Zabalawi Communications & Outreach Advisor

This type of art has created an everlasting billboard that depicts the nature of water scarcity in Jordan. The murals act as a reminder for local citizens to conserve water and create new technologies to sustain existing supplies. Since the completion of the six murals in the city of Amman, the country’s primary water company has commissioned several murals to be painted on water towers across the country 4Nour Zabalawi Communications & Outreach Advisor. This goes to show that conservation artwork has the potential to spark a chain reaction of awareness and participation across the globe.

Mural for the USAID Water Innovation Technologies Project,
Nour Zabalawi Communications & Outreach Advisor

There are numerous organizations that support conservation artwork, including Artists for Conservation, International League of Conservation Artists, Photographers and Writers, among others. The common mission among these organizations is to document, educate and inspire people to conserve natural resources for humans, wildlife and future generations. 

Conclusion

We are all influenced by the world around us, and our life is molded by the interactions we have with our environment and other human beings. The one thing that remains with us are the memories and connections that we make.  The lasting impacts of major life events or meaningful experiences. They play a role in the way we live our lives. 

If our generation could look back on the artwork that represented the current destruction of our planet, my hope would be that the pieces of art that remain are a reminder for the need to care for our planet and protect resources for future longevity.  

With increased awareness and education regarding the issues our planet faces, both currently and in the future, humans will be able to re-connect with nature and create a cohesive sustainable environment for all life on earth. 

I encourage individuals to take a stand and demand action from local government officials and corporations, but most importantly make conscientious decisions regarding the products and services you put your money towards. There are many resources available to calculate your water footprint and tips on ways to decrease your daily intake. 


Sources:

  1. Encyclopedia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Art conservation and restoration. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved February 20, 2022, by MO. https://www.britannica.com/art/art-conservation-and-restoration
  2.  Water, sanitation and hygiene. UNICEF Jordan. (2020, November 4). Retrieved February 17, 2022, by MO. om https://www.unicef.org/jordan/water-sanitation-and-hygiene
  3.  Nour Zabalawi Communications & Outreach Advisor, M. C. J. (2021, September 30). Every drop counts: The Art of Water Conservation. Mercy Corps. Retrieved February 18, 2022, by MO. https://ap9.mercycorps.org/blog/every-drop-art-water-conservation#:~:text=The%20%E2%80%9CHold%20Water%E2%80%9D%20street%20art%20project%20is%20part,like%20efficient%20shower%20heads%2C%20toilets%2C%20and%20washing%20machines.
  4.  Nour Zabalawi Communications & Outreach Advisor, M. C. J. (2021, September 30). Every drop counts: The Art of Water Conservation. Mercy Corps. Retrieved February 18, 2022, by MO. https://ap9.mercycorps.org/blog/every-drop-art-water-conservation#:~:text=The%20%E2%80%9CHold%20Water%E2%80%9D%20street%20art%20project%20is%20part,like%20efficient%20shower%20heads%2C%20toilets%2C%20and%20washing%20machines.
  5. Nour Zabalawi Communications & Outreach Advisor, M. C. J. (2021, September 30). Every drop counts: The Art of Water Conservation. Mercy Corps. Retrieved February 18, 2022, by MO.  https://ap9.mercycorps.org/blog/every-drop-art-water-conservation#:~:text=The%20%E2%80%9CHold%20Water%E2%80%9D%20street%20art%20project%20is%20part,like%20efficient%20shower%20heads%2C%20toilets%2C%20and%20washing%20machines. 
  6. Nour Zabalawi Communications & Outreach Advisor, M. C. J. (2021, September 30). Every drop counts: The Art of Water Conservation. Mercy Corps. Retrieved February 18, 2022, by MO. https://ap9.mercycorps.org/blog/every-drop-art-water-conservation#:~:text=The%20%E2%80%9CHold%20Water%E2%80%9D%20street%20art%20project%20is%20part,like%20efficient%20shower%20heads%2C%20toilets%2C%20and%20washing%20machines.

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