Art can help build awareness. Indeed, nature and science are inextricably linked to art in the environmental realm. While science measures the health of the planet, art helps us visualize our complex relationship to the natural world. Art has a unique set of tools to represent our world: irony and allegory, metaphor and humor. Science provides facts while art tells stories.
The need for environmental stories has never been greater. Earth is steadily crossing increasingly alarming thresholds of climate change and other environmental challenges. Biologists view human impact as the primary contributor to an emerging mass extinction. People are hungry for positive images of the future. Effectively told, stories can have a powerful impact in determining how our future unfolds. The stories at the heart of Nature’s Toolbox offer fresh perspectives, demonstrating that humanity itself is an essential piece of this system, and the salvation not just of nature, but ourselves.
Earth is home to as many as 20 million species, but only a tiny fraction are known and scientifically classified. The interdependence among organisms and their environments sustains the conditions needed for survival by all living creatures: clean air and water, crop pollination, pest control, climate regulation, soil nutrients, and a diversity of plants and creatures, among other things. These are “nature’s services” that support us, every hour of every day, for “free.” The importance of biodiversity is often undervalued, as “free” things often are. The reality is that species are disappearing at an alarming rate, claiming individual genes and entire ecosystems—and, along with them, the blueprints for a healthy planet and all who live here. Each loss carries with it a missing piece of life’s intricate puzzle and the benefits it brings to human well-being. The price we pay for these losses is incalculable.
Nature’s Toolbox brings together works by artists who explore biodiversity’s many facets. Some grapple with the ways our everyday activities are linked to loss of species and biodiversity. Others examine how biodiversity contributes to the quality of our lives, or probe the potential of nature’s amazing blueprints to build a future in which human needs are met in harmony with nature. At its core, “Nature’s Toolbox” is a celebration of biodiversity, creativity, and ingenuity. Images of select artwork here.
Venues The Field Museum, Chicago, IL | May 22 – December 2, 2012 The Leonardo, Salt Lake City, UT | January 28 – August 5, 2013 Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita, KS | August 31 — December 17, 2013 University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art, Cedar Falls, IA | August 25- October 18, 2014 MuBE, Sao Paulo, Brazil | 2015
Artists Allora & Calzadilla, Suzanne Anker, Antonio Briceno, Vincent Callebaut, Rob Carter, Catherine Chalmers, Ri Crawford, E.V. Day, Anthony Discenza, Chris Drury, Aganetha Dyck and Richard Dyck, Don & Era Farnsworth, Cao Fei, Hall & Moline, Joyce Hsu, Chris Jordan, Kahn & Selesnick, Christian Kerrigan, Isabella Kirkland, Charles Lee, Katja Loher, Lori Nix, Lucy & Jorge Orta, Neri Oxman, Donna Keiko Ozawa, Sven Pahlsson, Susan Plum, Ken Rinaldo, Isabella Rossellini, Tomas Saraceno, Yuriko Yamaguchi, Xu Zhen, Marina Zurkow