Many artists will tell you that making and sharing art are good for your health, but these claims are also substantially backed by science.
Art is proven to help us:
- relieve stress,
- develop critical thinking skills,
- improve our memory,
- and explore our identities (1).
These benefits can be heightened when natural materials are incorporated into your practice (4). Earth-based materials are grounding for artists and their audiences and help individuals connect to Mother Earth.
Connecting Mother Earth & Her Children
Humans are a vital part of the Earth’s ecosystems; we're deeply connected to nature rather than separate from it. Our oldest, most basic bond is to Mother Earth, the environment around us which we rely on, contribute to, and create with. Because of our connection, creating with earth-based materials ties us to the world around us as well as our natural selves (1, 2, 4, 5). Earth-based materials are an extension of our organic bodies, heritages, and histories (2).
Creating art to ground yourself in the Earth, your heritage, and your environment provides clarity and reduces anxiety (4). It provides space to explore individual and communal relationships and our impacts on one another (2), and finding connections between yourself and the environment helps reduce feelings of isolation and depression (4).
Earth Art & Professional Health
Despite these findings, professional health fields have only recently started to use this practice (2, 3, 4, 5). Ecopsychology focuses on the emotional bonds between people and the Earth to heal the relationship between the two (4, 5). Eco-art therapy draws on ecopsychology to assist with self-reflection, expression, comfort, and connection between the self and the environment (4). This kind of therapy incorporates artistic practices that celebrate the connection between the artist and their materials (3, 4, 5). Both Eco-art therapy and Ecophyschology view healing human relations to the Earth through earth-based art as vital to healing interpersonal conflicts (3, 4, 5).
Eco-art therapy can also assist in teaching healthy coping mechanisms. Earth art encourages repetitive, meditative moments that mirror those in the natural environment and help artists find calmness and center themselves (3).
The Earth & Her Resources
Because earth pigments are naturally-derived, many artists use these natural materials to incorporate the environment around them into their art. Similar to recycling, using earth-based materials for art creates a collaboration between artist and material; the artist remains the creator, but the materials help to breathe even more life and subtlety into their work (2, 4).
Rebirth & Renewal in Earth Art
Rebirth and renewal are ever-present in nature. The Earth’s ecosystems are circular and restorative, so using earth-based materials in your practice can spark feelings of rejuvenation. In creating artworks with earth pigments, we give new life to materials that have already existed long before we picked up our paint brushes (2). When artists use earth-based materials, they often state that these practices help them slow down in their busy lives to match the pace of the natural world (3, 4, 5). Imagining the state of artists' natural materials over time before they reached the palette helps some artists gain new, refreshed perspectives on their relationship to the Earth, especially in terms of time, beauty, and their own natural journey (3, 4, 5).
Want to learn more? Check out the sources from our article!
- Stressed out? Art can help us get through the coronavirus (Artists for the Earth)
- The Art Story (Earth Art Movement Overview)
- How art in nature heals: A glimpse into eco-art therapy (She Explores)
- Eco-Art Therapy: Deepening Connections with the Natural World (American Art Therapy Association)
- Eco-Art Therapy (Eco-Art Therapy)