Environmental Art: Activism, Aesthetics and Transformation by John Dahlsen


During a time when damage to the ecology and economic choices by government continue to challenge the ideals of environmentalism, this work reflects on the role of the environmental artist and art practice in the second decade of the 21st century. The body of work submitted in an installation exhibition of sculpture, printmaking and painting was stimulated as a response by the artist to the aesthetics of beauty, the role of art as an activist platform and transformation of both a personal nature and of objects in the creative process.

The exegesis is reflexive and dialogical, drawing on various philosophical and environmental thinkers and artists, to find symbolic and practical connections with ideas generated by this practice-led research. The art protests against the human condition – stuck in the cycle of consumerism, while building an aesthetic appreciation of the artwork produced, contributing to new ways of seeing and responding to the environment. At the same time, this work originates as the result of re-entering academia and undertaking a PhD, and being driven by these events, a personal transformation has manifested itself in a renewed creative output. This artistic output reflects more accurately a deepening personal sense of the possibility of transcendence.

This project provides insight about the practice of making art that is both an aesthetic response to the materials used as well as an activist statement about contemporary society. Through the creation of this body of work and analysis of the process, a nexus is identified, between social comment, beauty and transformation within the creative process and of the individual.


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