Man and Nature: Art in the Age of Climate Change

'casualty' macdowell photo
Artist Kate Macdowell portrays mankind's union with nature in her piece Casualty.

The oldest known paintings, in a cave near Lascaux, France, are thought to be around 32,000 years old and depict horses, rhinoceros, lions, buffalo, mammoth, and humans hunting them. Since then, throughout the extensive history of art, themes of man and nature are among the most explored. This age-old relationship has been portrayed in many forms: from the early man's crude cave sketches, to renderings of nature as deified, admonished, revered, and feared--all in the vivid mediums and from the finest masters. But now, as mankind plows deeper into the 21st century and the smoggy haze of our industrial societies thickens, this most primeval of dramas is reassessed in light of looming environmental catastrophes--where man and nature are inexorably linked by their common fate of potential devastation. This collection of work was created by American artist Kate Macdowell, who presents dead and decaying animals with anthropomorphic features--blurring the difference between man and nature in a state of destruction. Her choice to craft the pieces from porcelain helps adds a sense of fragility to the subjects.

According to the artist who created these porcelain pieces:

In my work this romantic ideal of union with the natural world conflicts with our contemporary impact on the environment. These pieces are in part responses to environmental stressors including climate change, toxic pollution, and gm crops. They also borrow from myth, art history, figures of speech and other cultural touchstones. In some pieces aspects of the human figure stand-in for ourselves and act out sometimes harrowing, sometimes humorous transformations which illustrate our current relationship with the natural world.

'cuckoo' macdowell photo
'daphne' macdowell photo
'breaking' macdowell photo
'mice and men'-macdowell photo
Mice and Men
'uprooted' macdowell photo
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