Quite naturally, artists have always created
works that are a direct response to their physical environment.
Cave paintings of prehistoric Africa and Europe, pictographs along
the shores of Lake Superior, landscape paintings of the 17th -
19th centuries, and contemporary works urging protection of the
environment all represent an ongoing need to come to terms with
and protect the physical environment. In addition, every culture
extracts patterns and designs from nature, applying them to all
manner of ceremonial, decorative and useful objects.
Setting up a dialogue through a series of questions can help reveal
how artists are attempting to engage us in thinking about the environment.
Is a natural or man-made setting featured? Does it depict a certain
place, or it is more general? How are humans situated in the scene,
if at all? Does the work relate to issues of environmental protection?
Is the work a response to science or technology? How do the materials
it is made of lend meaning to the artwork?
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