Environment

Compilation of Images

Tom Thomson, Eleanor Bond, Roy Arden
The Winnipeg Art Gallery; Canadian Museum of Civilization, Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Instito Nacional de Bellas Artes, Smithsonian American Art Museum

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved


"Environment" is defined as "the total of surrounding things." Three pictures below represent different kinds of environments. The first was painted in the early 20th century, when the Canadian wilderness was still being explored and "environment" referred generally to "the world around us." The second and third were created in the later 20th century, when "environment" increasingly meant "the environment," referring more specifically to "environmental issues" and concern for how people affect the world around them.

Different artists see and represent the landscape in different ways. Consider the pictures in this learning object, and describe what do think each artist was trying to show about the environment.

"Environment" is defined as "the total of surrounding things." Three pictures below represent different kinds of environments. The first was painted in the early 20th century, when the Canadian wilderness was still being explored and "environment" referred generally to "the world around us." The second and third were created in the later 20th century, when "environment" increasingly meant "the environment," referring more specifically to "environmental issues" and concern for how people affect the world around them.

Different artists see and represent the landscape in different ways. Consider the pictures in this learning object, and describe what do think each artist was trying to show about the environment.


© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved

Early Snow

Early Snow speaks of Canada’s search for national identity in the early 20th century. Seeking to create a truly Canadian artistic expression, Tom Thomson painted the rugged rocks, trees and lakes of the Canadian Shield north of Toronto, Ontario. He felt that images of this uninhabited region reflected Canada as a young, resource-rich nation. Thomson used bright colours and simplified forms to capture the raw beauty and splendour of the wilderness. His style was innovative as well as shocking. Nearly a century later, Thomson’s iconic images are the most recognizable of all Canadian art.

Tom Thomson (1877 - 1917)
Collection of The Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with the assistance of a grant recommended by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board, and approved by the Minister of Canadian Heritage under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, and with contributions by The Winnipeg Foundation, The Thomas Sill Foundation Inc., The Winnipeg Art Gallery Foundation Inc., Mr. and Mrs. G.B. Wiswell Fund, DeFehr Foundation Inc., Loch and Mayberry Fine Art Inc, and several anonymous donors.
1916
CANADA
oil on canvas
44.60 X 44.60 cm
© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved


"The Centre for Fertility and Ecology is Subsidized by Visitors to the Waterslide Area"

In this study from her series “Social Centres,” Eleanor Bond examines how post-industrial urban society defines community and nature. Her imaginary multi-purpose site includes a uterus-shaped lake for watersliding – no doubt a humorous reference to the site’s purpose as a fertility centre. In her fantastic landscape Bond wryly comments on our society’s tendency to fund ecological preservation projects with environmentally destructive activities.

Eleanor Bond (1948 - )
Collection of The Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of the artist
1991 - 1993
CANADA
oil on canvas
34.00 X 46.00 cm
© The Winnipeg Art Gallery


Landfill, Richmond, B.C.

British Columbia, Canada’s most western province, is known for its mountainous and forest-filled beauty. Rich in resources, it is also a hotbed of activism as groups seek to limit forest clear-cutting and other environmental hazards. In this photograph, Roy Arden exposes the human-generated refuse that has become impossible to hide. Desolate roads, abandoned chairs, a bulldozer and a leafless tree remind us of our failure to effectively manage consumption and waste.

Roy Arden (1957 - )
Collection of The Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with funds from the Estate of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Naylor
1991
CANADA
Ektacolour print on paper
© The Winnipeg Art Gallery


One of these landscapes is imaginary: which one? Can it still be as ""true"" as the others? Is any of these landscapes like your own environment? Why do you think meanings of "environment" change? What might "environment" mean in the future? Do these images represent a particular perspective on an issue? Is this perspective determined more by artistic intent or the viewer’s frame of reference?
  1. One of these landscapes is imaginary: which one? Can it still be as ""true"" as the others?
  2. Is any of these landscapes like your own environment?
  3. Why do you think meanings of "environment" change?
  4. What might "environment" mean in the future?
  5. Do these images represent a particular perspective on an issue?
  6. Is this perspective determined more by artistic intent or the viewer’s frame of reference?

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved

Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Appreciate how artists communicate their perspective through their work
  • Understand that an artist’s and a viewer’s perspective influence the interpretation of art
  • Consider how art is relevant to issues pertaining to humanity, such as the environment
  • Formulate ideas about the meaning of the term “environment” and how it changes over time

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