Art and Environmentalism

Why textile art? I get that question from people who are just curious, and from serious artists wondering why I wouldn’t choose a more highly respected medium like oil or acrylic. The simple answer is environmental responsibility. In fact I started out in oils and moved to acrylics along my journey as an artist, but as human impact on the environment has become profoundly detrimental, I had to look at my own choices and decide if my decisions as an artist reflected my philosophy on living more simply and sustainably. Every time I rinsed a brush I could picture tiny particulates of plastic washing down the drain and ultimately into the waterways…it just didn’t feel right. I had always played with fabric, so I focused in on that, and have never looked back.

I love the texture of fabrics and endless possibilities textiles offer. And humans have had an intimate relationship with fabrics since our humble beginnings.  I use organic fabrics as much as possible, and I also use re-use old clothing and fabric items as well. I find them at second hand shops, or even in my own wardrobe. Have you ever seen the back rooms at thrift stores? There are literally mountains of clothing in piles on the floor, and heaped into semi-trucks. It reminds me to carefully consider clothing purchases and to think about how I can use my own fabrics when they wear out…I’ll choose cotton or linen pieces instead of a micro fiber based pieces because I know I’ll be able to incorporate them into art someday.

I have posted a few articles below that I feel are informative and helpful in making better decisions about how fabric is produced, used, and recycled. For my part, I am making a difference one piece of art at a time.

Recycled and organic fabrics
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Finished piece
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Stratum, Erica Daley 2014

 

Inside the lonely fight against the biggest environmental problem you’ve never heard of
http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/oct/27/toxic-plastic-synthetic-microscopic-oceans-microbeads-microfibers-food-chain

Where Does The Discarded Clothing Go?
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/07/where-does-discarded-clothing-go/374613/?single_page=true

The Afterlife of Cheap Clothes
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/fashion/2012/06/the_salvation_army_and_goodwill_inside_the_places_your_clothes_go_when_you_donate_them_.html

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2 thoughts on “Art and Environmentalism

  1. Thank you for this. I have been painting murals for years and I have had the same visions every time I wash a brush. I have a degree in costume design and a basement full of fabric I’ve collected over the years .
    You are inspiring me to sew again.
    Your work is absolutely stunning. So glad I found you on instagram.

    1. Thanks so much. I would LOVE to see your fabric collection as costume design is full of fabulous colors and textures. What a great resource! I love your connection to hobbits as well…wouldn’t it be lovely? 😉

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