Environmental art can be used to define any art that deals with ecological issues as well as anything in the natural context. Environmental art is also a movement that began in the late 60s, and was then associated with sculpture such as land art or site specific art. Now, this category of art holds many types of media and is not limited to the earth soils as a medium alone. Also known as sustainable or green art, environmental art is now used to recognize and bring awareness to challenges for contemporary art.
One artist named Robert Smithson create a piece called Spiral Jetty in 1969 that raised awareness regarding recycling at the time because he did damage to the area. While constructing this piece, he used a bulldozer to scrape the land for his art, thereby damaging the lake nearby. Another artist by the name of Richard Long, has used all natural materials found at a site to create art and not have any detrimental effect on the environment as a dedicated environmental artist.
Eco art is synonymous with environmental art, as eco art involves bringing awareness to the environment by using natural mediums as well as creating pieces of art in natural environments. One of the largest and most well known pieces of eco art was created by a man named Joseph Beuys in 1982 called 7000 Oaks. This artist and many assistants planted 7000 oak trees in Kassel. This was done to bring awareness to the condition of the declining environment in the area and the lack of nature's beauty. Other famous eco artists include Rosalie Gascoigne, Patrice Stellest and John Wolseley. One artist named Erwin Timmers uses nothing but some of the least recycled and reclaimed materials including glass from windows to create his pieces.
The most recent additions to environmental and eco art is the renewable energy movement. Considering the huge problems with renewable energy and our environment as a whole, many artists are turning to this as a means of bringing attention to the public. Mostly constructed of public sculptures and architecture, this form of environmental art allows for function to still be allowed, but the ecologically informed artists require that their work produce power from a renewable source. This would include wind, hydroelectric, tidal and solar powers.
These sculptures are energy generators and art, which functions as a means of informing the public. These sculptures were first idealized by artists such as Patrick Marole, Lauri Chetwood, Sarah Hall and Julian Scaff. Scaff works with wind turbines that are used in the public as artwork as well. His Carbon Sink sculptures are still used as public art, and use solar power to capture carbon and store it as a means of helping with the environment.
Eco art and environmental art is more prevalent than ever, with the most recent of problems of the polar ice caps melting being made known internationally. With more artists embracing the environment as a means of expression and inspiration, the public will be more informed than ever.