I often feel the ecological crises the world is currently faced with are too big and expansive for me to really do anything about. How can one person make a difference? Where can I turn when feelings of ecological despair, overwhelm, anger and frustration at how unjust the world is arise? How can I align my core values with a world that dictates and forces me to actively participate in a materialistic and capitalist way of life that I am opposed too?
Some days it all seems too much I want to throw my arms up and run away to live in a cabin somewhere deep and remote in the forest. Some days I am at peace with knowing that the little things I do do, all contribute, while other days the warrior woman in me wants to be out on the Greenpeace boat fighting whalers in the Pacific, or tied to a tree in Tasmania’s old growth forest protecting them from man’s destruction.
What do I do?
To some, this may seem like a route to hedonism or escapism, but I believe wholeheartedly in the power of art as a weapon not only for personal transformation and healing, but also for social and political change. The history of art shows that creative movements move and weave alongside social, religious, spiritual, cultural and political movements. With the urgent global response required in relation to the devastation of the earth, environmental movements are finding themselves at the forefront of major social and political change. Therefore art now, more than ever, is a powerful medium to raise awareness of the planet’s plight.
One of many organisations worldwide to be actively encouraging artists and creatives of all kinds to publicly respond to ecological crises is ‘Earth Arts’ part of AELA – the Australian Earth Laws Alliance.
“The Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA) is a national not-for-profit organisation whose mission is to increase the understanding and practical implementation of Earth centered law, governance and ethics (or ‘Earth jurisprudence’) in Australia. Earth jurisprudence is a new legal theory and growing social movement that proposes we rethink our legal, political, economic and governance systems so that they support, rather than undermine, the integrity and health of the Earth.” (excerpt taken from http://www.earthlaws.org.au)
Michelle Maloney, National Convenor and Environmental lawyer, states that: “despite a proliferation of environmental law in the United States and around the world, the health of the natural world continues to deteriorate.” Therefore, we must find new ways of approaching and managing our relationship with the earth. AELA sets out to demonstrate that there are ways “that Earth jurisprudence can be used to offer a cohesive framework within which law, politics, science, economics, ethics, traditional wisdom and human spirituality can be woven together to create a more effective governance approach to nurturing the Earth.” (Michelle Maloney, “Introduction” to Earth and Jurisprudence and Rights of Nature)
Organisations such as AELA recognise that the earth is on the brink of a massive ecological crisis and are doing all that they can to make room for great change. It would be easy to stay in denial and ignore the problems or succumb to feelings of overwhelm and anger. We cannot. Things need to change on such a massive scale that we are all now being called to do whatever we can, in the ways that we know how to stop the damage and destruction even when it feels at times that there is no hope. At least we can say we tried.
Art is what I know, and I continually witness and experience how creativity is a powerful vehicle for change. I come to realize the value and worth of my work as an artist who is deeply concerned over the plight of the planet, and I recognize that the canvas is where I can turn when feelings of that overwhelm arise. It is through the creative process that I have also been able to seek answers to my questions and I have come to know that YES, one person can make a difference–because taking individual action no matter how small, contributes to the larger picture or the whole in some way, shape or form. There are ways to live and work in the world according to held values and ethics despite an over-culture that dictates otherwise. It just requires one to be conscious and to care enough to help create change.
Through intentional and instinctive creative practices I am also able to deepen connections to the earth for I believe it is this illusion of separateness humans have from nature that enables us to continue on a path of ecological destruction. My latest works serve as a reminder and a reflection of an ancient sacred relationship between human and nature and how important it is to restore and repair this relationship.
This piece is titled “Veil of Illusion”.
Jassy Watson, who lives on the sub-tropical coast of Queensland Australia, is a Mother of four, passionate organic gardener, Contemporary Earth Artist, Intentional Creativity Coach and a student of Ancient History and Religion at Macquarie University, Sydney. She is the Creatress of Earth Circle Studios; a small school for the Sacred Creative Arts. Jassy teaches regular painting workshops in person, nationally, internationally, and online based around themes that explore myth, history, earth connection and the Goddess. Her latest SOULSCAPES (TM) exploring a sacred relationship with nature have recently been on show at ‘Dreaming Into Being’ an exhibition held at the Percolator Gallery, Paddington, Brisbane, Brunswick Street Galleries Melbourne and recently at ‘Voices for the Earth’, Bundaberg QLD, Australia. You can see her work at www.earthcirclestudios.com.