Artists for the Earth

Artist for the Earth Freya Grand paints to remind us of Earth’s beauty

The Earth is on a crash course toward a climate catastrophe. If we don’t act quickly, we’re on track to not only lose a million species but also the Earth as we’ve known it.

Bill McKibben calls this phenomenon the “end of nature,” which he writes about in his 1989 book by the same name: “The idea of nature will not survive the new global pollution… By changing the weather, we make every spot on the earth man made and artificial.”

Through her paintings, one Washington, D.C.-based artist wields the pristine beauty associated with untouched nature to convince us to preserve it. Freya Grand paints landscapes “where the hand of man is not yet apparent — places that are remote, wild and beautiful,” she said in a video interview with Earth Day Network.

Grand believes that to save this quickly vanishing landscape, we must persuade people it’s worth saving. Protecting the earth is the most important thing that we should be doing now, beyond any other human pursuit, she said.

Though we’ve had the scientific facts at our fingertips, we’ve been slow to do much about climate change. We’ve poisoned waterways, polluted air and cut down forests. In our unrelenting quest to conquer nature, humankind has also infected it. To fight this status quo of industrialism and its inherent pollution, we must change our way of thinking about nature. That’s where art comes in.

“To get people’s attention, you have to also move them emotionally,” said Grand. “If you engage people’s emotion, you stand a better chance of getting them to participate in the conversation about why Earth is so precious.”

Grand has not always been a landscape painter.  She worked in abstraction for about a decade and then after that in a more narrative kind of realism. That changed about 20 years ago when she traveled to Machu Picchu in the Andes, on her first trip to South America.

If you engage people’s emotion, you stand a better chance of getting them to participate in the conversation about why Earth is so precious.

Freya Grand

“I remember being overwhelmed by the power of what I was seeing there,” said Grand. “The jagged peaks, the feeling of recent geological events… It was a realization of the connection between the forces of the natural world and what we carry inside of us.”

Grand recently became an Artist for Earth for Earth Day Network. Artists for Earth is a global campaign that seizes the power of art to educate and inspire action to protect the Earth. Through this campaign, Grand will have an additional platform to showcase her art and her messages about nature to larger audiences.

Another way to view her recent work is at an upcoming showcase, “Landscape and Abstraction,” at the Art Museum of Americas in Washington, D.C. The gallery will run from January 23–April 26, 2020, and a panel discussion will be at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, the day after the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

“I have such a strong and heartfelt relationship with the parts of the world that are so magnificent, and it pains me to hear this drumbeat of disasters,” said Grand. “I hope [my art] will draw people in and get them to feel strongly that this Earth is deeply connected to who we are as human beings, and it’s essential to protect it.”