By: Allison Ridener
“Welcome to the World” is an environmental art exhibit on campus for the month that features the works of Miguel Brieva, an artist who is not afraid to point out how humanity’s consumerist choices are damaging our planet. The artist from Seville, Spain currently has art exhibitions at universities all across the country, including ours.
It can sometimes be difficult to remember that there is more to being environmentally friendly than recycling. Making conscious consumer choices not only betters the quality of life of our planet, but of those who are less privileged and suffer the most from unethical and unsustainable business practices. With his art that channels the style of the 1950s, the decade American consumerism arose, Brieva cleverly highlights that nothing has changed and that the world is worse off because of it.
Recycling, while definitely needed, only addresses the waste aspect of our unsustainable consumption. Pollution is created in the production, transport and recycling of the item, and that pollution disproportionately affects those who are least able to handle it. Continuing to emphasize recycling over lifestyle changes is like putting a band-aid on a blemish; it counteracts the symptoms but doesn’t address the root of the problem, our poor diet of unsustainable consumption. To truly change our course, we need to put a greater focus on changing the unsustainable consumer choices people make, choices usually made without forethought.
We are destroying the Earth for things we don’t even need, and it’s up to our younger generation to shift toward more sustainable choices instead of applying more band-aid solutions. Brieva reminds us that the heart of the environmental movement isn’t to counteract the symptoms of our environmental dilemma, but to fix it at its source.
View the exhibit for free in MacMillan Hall lobby from now until October 8th.
Cover photo courtesy of Miguel Brieva, whose works are registered under a Creative Commons license. Exhibition photos by Gia Mariani.