Should we buy art that speaks to big issues such as climate change and activism? Is this work meant to be collected?
by Andrew Dean
Should we buy art that speaks to big issues such as climate change and activism? Is this work meant to be collected? How can we ensure sustainability in the process and practices of buying climate and activist art? These are questions posed to keep in mind while purchasing art that is aimed at inspiring social and global change in the face of climate crises.
The ice is melting, oceans are polluted with plastic, and rainforests are being scorched by the hectare to accommodate expanding beef consumption. Human activity is fueling global climate shifts that are poised to affect nearly every living being on earth, arguably much sooner than later. The moment humanity reaches a turning point vis-à-vis climate change is also the moment individuals collectively develop authentic attachments to the climate crises. This is where the role of contemporary art may emerge as pivotal to our time.
Artists offer provocative ways of telling this story. Artists have a chance to captivate the public in the realities and perils of climate change while posing the most important questions. Artists have focused on capturing the trauma and ghastly effects of climate change, but more significantly acting as change agents and partners with climate researchers and activists. This work is much more successful at conveying and appealing to emotional responses that can ultimately help trigger the public to determine how climate change directly affects their lives, and more importantly how their lives directly influence climate change. Where science and activism alone are not always successful, art often stirs responses enough to invoke real awareness, empathy, and change. Again, the question is posed, is this work collectible?
It is important to consider our motivation when buying art in the first place. We buy art for many reasons, to hang on a wall to fill a void, to support favorite artists, to add unique and interesting works diversifying a collection, to simply enjoy the work, or to collect meaningful works reflective of our time. Buying art, ethically with the intent of the work in mind will make a big impact on your life and that of the artists’.
More often than not, climate change art has the chance to produce great impact with common themes of consumption behaviors, human causes to climate change, and calls to action to incite real change. If this is work of interest to you, it may be important to preserve and support the context and the movement surrounding that work. Supporting artists who partner with climate researchers and activists can be a great way to contribute to making change.
There are many factors to consider when investing in climate change art. Learning who the artist is, the context in which they work, and the focus of the work are essential. Provenance is important, especially when valuing work, however, contemporary climate change art can be worth so much more. The intrinsic value for society and the greater good of our planet is what excites most. As art increasingly moves in directions that pose questions and seeks to reach the masses to incite collective consciousness, collections will benefit from including these works, as they are critical works of our time.
When purchasing climate change art we must ask questions like, was this ethically and sustainably purchased from a gallery committed to supporting artists on a mission? Is my purchase supporting the artist’s future mission to incorporate sustainable and eco-friendly practices into their work? Does my purchase support future endeavors for artists to continue this important work?
Agora Gallery partners with artists as they continue their journeys and make new and innovative works striving to connect artists with collectors. Representing and supporting artists who strive to evoke emotion, and to incite change around issues of climate change and activism is a great way to further elevate change on a larger scale, needed to promote awareness and to collectively take action to solve issues surrounded by climate change.
Agora’s artists are actively in touch with and are participating in larger conversations about society and climate change. From finding eco-responsible materials and methods to incorporate into their practices to directly making meaning about climate change within their work, Agora represents artists making new, relevant, and inspiring works.
Gilberto Arriaza‘s work relates to human philosophy and is reflecting and documenting the times. Gilberto’s Plegaria, 2018 and Tierraviva, 2020 demonstrate appreciation and respect for the delicacy and balance of earth’s natural ecosystems, and the beauty and the dreamlike experiences of a healthy environment.
Judy Ann Filipich considers perspective and outer influences in her work. She works through the idea that “the world can seem so ugly at times, and though I have had my share of disappointments, I rely on the power of art to create an object perceived as beautiful by the viewer.” Judy’s work speaks to the challenges and also the opportunity to achieve beauty and harmony in our world. Her practice is informed by reusing, and upcycling found materials to create two- and three-dimensional work.
Madhuri Bhaduri’s body of work is vast and varied, including a practice with reused and recycled raw materials. Her work is reflective of her ecological and environmental concerns flowing from her love for nature, beauty, and aesthetics.
ASen’s art resonates with a sense of mystery, poetry, lyrical rhythm, and movement of patterns in nature, our environment, and our earth. “As the climate crisis is a phenomenon that has always concerned me, I feel the need to use my artistic expression to build awareness about ‘Our Earth’ and the environmental issues like; the water crisis, global warming, and destruction of natural habitats by human error that threaten the world today. Reminding mankind to get together to work towards saving our earth makes it a safer place to live for future generations.”
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Buying climate change art is definitely an act of building contemporary relevance in a collection. Buying from artists who are committed to sustainable practices and who are partners and change agents to climate researchers and activists simply put, provides further opportunity for those artists to press on.
Andrew Dean has a Master of Arts in Education from Boston University and Bachelor of Arts in Art Education and Cultural Anthropology from The College of New Jersey. Andrew works as a public school art teacher, a community art programming director, and an educational and arts management consultant. He believes contemporary art has the opportunity to reach audiences of all ages, abilities, and identities. He strives to support and connect budding artists to the greater community.