Rainforest Art Projects

Posted on | 3/7/11 | 1 Comment

Currently I'm visiting beautiful, sunny, tropical Puerto Rico and have been wanting to do a related post on it. I wrote this article for another publication but I think you guys will also appreciate it. I am also going to add in photos from my time here in PR and examples of rain forest related artwork (click on the paintings to go to the website I found them on) to inspire you. 

Teachers often assign rainforest-themed art projects while they are teaching students about the importance of conservation and saving the animals that are there. These projects can be quite valuable in terms of bringing attention to the role the rainforest plays in the environment and inspiring students to participate and help in any way they can. You can even use rainforest art projects to gain donations that can be used to help the rainforest, animals, plants and people in it.

Role of Arts in Conservation
Art has a unique role in conservation. A soon as ago as the 1800's art was used to document scientific discoveries made in the forest in the form drawings of the unique animals and insects that live there. While the role of documentation is now performed using photographs, art can still be used to help in conservation. Posters, installations, paintings, books and even music (all forms of art) are used to inform people and gain their attention about what is going on in the rain forest as well as to solicit donations and sales.

Many animals that live in the rainforest under threat of extinction are endangered due to excessive human interference with their habitat. You can highlight the plight of the animals by creating an art project focusing on a single animal type or species. For example you could create a shadow box showing the damage logging causes to monkeys who have no place to live. Or you could show the effects of dehydration on a small wet frog who no longer has access to the flowers he was accustomed to living in by making an audio installation that starts with natural noises slowly being over powered by the sounds of people and habitat destruction.

Like the animals, many plants in the rainforest are also endangered because of logging or their medicinal uses. Because rainforests are essentially “lungs” for our planet and help to provide oxygen, this destruction is having global effects. To bring attention to this destruction it may be best to put aside paper –also made from trees—and get outside.

Create an interactive art piece such as an installation or performance art that brings attention to this problem while trying to do something about it. For example, an installation in a public place could be made showing alternatives to rainforest derived products. It could also teach people about conservation and general rainforest facts -if desired-- via audio, videos, sculptures, poems, signs, and more. A performance piece can be done in which the artist shows the difficulties of reforesting by planting a tree alone and then seeking help from the audience, thereby involving them in the process. You could also make a painting showing the vast variety of plants that live in the rain forest.

The indigenous people of the rainforest also suffer alongside the plants and animals. Some tribes had never seen outsider until as recently as the mid 1900's but they now come in constant contact with people from outside the rain forest. This has resulted in an erosion of the traditions of many of these ancient people and in some cases the complete disappearance of tribes by absorption into larger ethnic groups. This results in the permanent loss of the language, culture and history of these small communities. Highlight this aspect of rainforest life by creating art in the style of these tribes, for example by making animal masks or carving totems. If you have an opportunity you could also make an audio installation of interviews with people from these tribes and their stories.



One Response to “Rainforest Art Projects”

  1. Alicia
    July 27, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Beautiful post! I found your blog via Blogs by Latinas. I'm a grad student at the University of New Hampshire and I'm conducting a 10-minute demographic survey of craft bloggers at craftbookproject.com. I'd like to invite you to take it! There's a giveaway going on there now, too.

    Thanks! Happy art-making!