Why does it seem so difficult for artists to see nature as fun?
A few years ago I bought a sculpture by David Kracov. It was similar to the one shown above – “Go With The Flow”. Inspired by pop art, this sculpture is a celebration of fish. Every time one looks at it, one cannot help but smile and feel uplifted. Yes, nature can be fun. Yet so few artists – or conservationists – spend their time showing us nature as fun. Nature is depicted as beautiful; as awesome and sublime in a way that makes us feel small as mere human beings; as dangerous and destructive; or as the destroyed at the hands of human irresponsibility. Or else we make it intellectually interesting and study it with science. But rarely is it depicted as just plain fun.
Butterflies are fun whenever and wherever we see them and Kracov has made butterflies something of a signature element in his work. The above sculpture is titled “Book of Life” and is a celebration of natural life and our interaction with it through learning and understanding.
Some time ago, I wrote about the new landscape paintings by another David – David Hockney. I remarked that his work generated a sense of fun and joy. Why is this so rare? Why can’t we have more artists celebrating the non-human world around us as something to enjoy and to have fun with. Would such an approach be better at making us identify with and care more about nature than the current, ever-present doom and gloom scenarios or the depiction of nature as a beautiful fetish object that is there to be protected, fenced off and admired only from a distance? I wonder.
Kracov also uses his butterflies symbolically as in “Reflections” (above). In this memorial to the tragedy of 9/11, Kracov replaces the twin towers (still shown in the reflection) with a column of butterflies. We can interpret this however we wish but, even when put in the context of an event such as 9/11, the use of a natural symbol manages to shift us on to a more hopeful plane of thought and feeling. Such is the power of nature when well used.
Maybe what we need to get everyone more in tune with the non-human world is some more Thinking Outside the Box – the title of another of Kracov’s pieces (below).