Written by Annie Hsiao-Wen Wang
As an abstract painter, I draw ideas from a wide range of resources; ranging from music, poetry, performance, to various other forms of creativity. But there are some sources of inspiration that may be surprising to people who are not familiar with how a painter works: regular meditation retreats; yoga sessions; the texture of a worn, hundred-year-old door that is in desperate need of restoration; or the iridescent glint of the fluttering wing of a butterfly.
More and more over the years, though, I find myself drawing inspiration from my connection with the environment. After all, who better to learn from about the art of creation but the greatest creator herself? I think there is a sense of sublime beauty when we are atop the peak of a mountain that transcends us above our mundane existence, into a realm of clarity and truth: the truth that as humans we are tiny, impermanent beings, born of the mother earth.
Ever since the Italian Renaissance, followed much later by the Industrial Revolution, humans actively took responsibility of their own survival away from the hands of their gods. Increasingly, we were no longer helpless to the whims of the forces of nature. We set up hydroponic systems and glasshouses to grow food so they are excluded from pests and unreliable climates. We figured out how to source water to irrigate our crops, even a way to extract salt out of sea water in case nature forgot to provide us with rain. And, we realised that digging minerals out of the ground could provide power to our machines to do the back-breaking work for us.
We have treated nature as a thing to be conquered, to be tamed in order to ensure our survival. But like an ungrateful child, we have taken more than we need and taken it for granted. In the developed countries, our needs to survive were met a long time ago; and yet, it appears the monster we created has run off on its own. We have become slaves to its needs: to conquer more of the natural world, to make more, to use more and consume more. This mindless insanity has all of us stuck in a hamster wheel: forever treading, forever running to feed an abstract hunger that will never be fulfilled.
Sometimes, though, we can remind ourselves to stop. To take a step back and ask ourselves: do I really need that straw to go with my drink? Do I really need to wrap each of my groceries in plastic? Do I need another pair of shoes when I’ve already got dozens at home?
And sometimes, we can remind ourselves to take the time to reconnect with nature. To walk amongst its trees, to swim in its oceans, to watch the eagles soar high above in the sky. We must remind ourselves that this precious, beautiful planet is that which supports life by giving it food, shelter, rain and resources. And we need to re-iterate this truth over and over again: that the earth is our home. And we must take care of it above all else.
Annie Hsiao-Wen Wang is an abstract painter, writer and sculpture. She is responsible for creating the World’s Largest Plastic Crochet Turtlee and is passionate about caring for the planet. For more details about her other works please check out her website.
One Brown Planet is group of like minded people raising awareness and trying to make a difference for our environment. If you want to help you can. By sharing our stories and liking our facebook page you can learn about the impact that we all have on the plane. Then every day, just try and tread a little lighter.
Just remember that every single thing you do, no matter how small, will reduce your impact on the planet. That’s something to smile about 🙂
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