Did you know, by 2025 five billion people will live in cities? And by 2050, two-thirds of the earths population will call the urban environment home? I’ve been reading about mega trends for work, and rapid urbanization is a major trend. More and more people are moving to live in cities, some of which are growing to an astonishing size. Ten million, anyone? From my little town of fifty thousand, it’s hard to fathom.
And I realized, on a hike one morning, how little nature the people in those environments will see. Will they get to feel the cool canopy of the forest? Will they ever experience walking with dirt under their feet, in a place where all they can see is nature? Maybe not. Even with great planning and fantastic green spaces in cities, it’s not the same as being in a forest where all you hear is the sound of the birds and the wind in the trees. Where you don’t see another person on the trail.
It made me sad for that future, for those people, who may never know the natural world the way I’ve been able to know it.
But then… I realized it means I, and other artists, have a super important job.
As an artist who spends time in the natural world and who captures and interprets these places in my art, I can bring the forest to others who can’t experience it. I can seek to evoke the feeling of those moments, the quiet I feel in my soul, through the art I create.
Isn’t that the role of the artist, to see and interpret the world we live in? To help others see what’s around them in a new light? To show them something they haven’t seen before, real or imagined?
This role of artists is going to become more and more important, especially as more and more people cannot experience the natural world in an immersive way. Technology might be able to someday give a proxy experience to the senses through virtual reality, but it’s artists who will explore and convey how it feels–on the inside, to the heart.
That’s always been our role as artists, hasn’t it? Let’s embrace it. We have an important responsibility to the current and future citizens of earth, who won’t know or experience the natural world any other way.