Environmental Art: Understand the Message Before Throwing Soup at It

From today’s environmental artists to cave etchings of animal reproductive cycles, art tells a story of survival and resilience.



What is your favorite type of art to do?

In 2022, climate activists around the world engaged in a string of protests throwing food at famous artworks such as Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers,” Monet’s “Grainstacks,” and da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” The protests received their fair share of criticism for failing to engage new people in the climate movement, but what may have been overshadowed was the actual environmental messages hidden in these pieces of artwork. In fact, from today’s prolific environmental artists to famous Renaissance figures to Mayas who didn’t even use the word “artist” to cry magnons 20,000 years ago etching animal reproductive cycles onto caves, so many pieces of art tell an environmental story and teach us something about the survival and resilience of humanity. Today, we explore what it might mean to be “environmental art,” some of the environmental impacts of art, and how we can appreciate a connection between environment and art that goes beyond throwing mashed potatoes on famous paintings. With special guest Geraldina Wise: Artist in Residence at the University of Houston Cullen School of Engineering.

The Sweaty Penguin is presented by Peril and Promise: a public media initiative from The WNET Group in New York, reporting on the issues and solutions around climate change. You can learn more at pbs.org/perilandpromise.

This episode is the fourth in our four-part series collaborating with the Gulf Climate Listening Project covering environmental issues on the Gulf Coast. If you are interested in learning about stopping LNG exports and creating a better future on the Gulf Coast, visit GulfCoastMurals.com.

Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin.


Writers: Ethan Brown

Fact Checker: Emma Jones

Editor: Megan Antone

Producers: Ethan Brown, Hallie Cordingley, Shannon Damiano, Owen Reith

Ad Voiceover: Madeleine Salman

Music: Brett Sawka

The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Peril and Promise or The WNET Group.


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The Sweaty Penguin
The Sweaty Penguin is a digital news source and podcast aiming to make environmental issues less overwhelming and politicized and more accessible and fun.


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