Ways Art Brings Awareness to Environmental Concerns

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

It is perhaps the most typical of environmental political battles. Congressional leaders from Florida – Republicans and Democrats alike – want $200 million allocated in the federal budget for restoration efforts in the Everglades. President Donald Trump included about one-third that amount in his proposed budget, though he hinted in a recent trip to south Florida that more money could be coming. Yet, regardless of how the Washington politics plays out, it’s important that attention is paid to the Everglades and to environmental issues in general, says Clyde Butcher, a nature photographer who since the 1980s has helped bring national awareness to the Everglades through stunning black-and-white photographs that have been compared to the works of Ansel Adams. He says some of the ways artists help bring attention to environmental issues include:

Let people vicariously experience the world’s wonders. Butcher says his large prints make people feel like they are walking right into the scene, which many of them wouldn’t dare do in reality.  “A lot of people don’t want to get wet,” he says. “They don’t want to play with the gators and the snakes.” Of course, eventually he wants them to experience the real thing. “You have to get your feet connected to the earth, or to water, to understand it, to feel it,” Butcher says.

Help people understand government’s role. “The government is making the laws, so we need to work with those guys,” Butcher says. One of the early ways he worked with government was when a water management district wanted to display some of his photographs in a new building. The problem: The water district had no money to pay for the photographs. Butcher’s businessman side hesitated at first, but eventually he agreed to provide the photos, feeling that his art could help connect the public to the water district’s mission.

Spread the word. Each time someone is exposed to nature through art they are reminded of the beauty and importance of these environmental treasures. Butcher took that a step further. About 25 years ago, he began offering guided swamp walks through the Everglades at one of his galleries. He says people who are exposed to the habitat may be more likely to want to preserve nature and will influence others.

Clyde Butcher (www.clydebutcher.com) is an acclaimed nature photographer who is best known for his striking black-and-white images of the Everglades in Florida.

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