Exploring the power of Indigenous art as a catalyst for linking economic growth to sustainable landscapes

Partner: Emily Carr University of Art & Design Aboriginal Gathering Place, Tanah Air Beta

The purpose of this study is to understand how art can be used as a boundary tool for enhancing environmental sustainability and supporting the well-being of rural communities. Boundary tools are objects or activities that bring together people with diverse and often conflicting perspectives to build relationships and reach consensus around an issue. This study will bring together scientists and artists to learn how art is important to culture, well-being, environmental management, economic development, and other aspects of life. We will build from previous projects, including mural paintings and Opening Doors. Focusing on Canada and Indonesia, we aim to understand and strengthen the role of art in culturally and environmentally sustainable development.

The study will have three stages. In stage one, we will conduct a global online survey distributed to research scientists, conservation NGOs, artists, and policy-makers working in the environmental sustainability domain to learn about perceptions on the role of art in environmental management. In stage two, we will convene Indigenous art workshops in Indonesia and Canada, inviting scientists and natural resource managers to participate. We will facilitate discussions and artistic events to explore different ways of knowing – how art and science can interact for sustainability. In stage three, we will host events in two remote communities (one in Canada, one in Indonesia), where we will work with local leaders and community members and attempt to use art to explore economic, environmental, and social preferences in relation to natural resource management. The outcomes of this study will be shared through a curated exhibition, using artistic methods to share perspectives, stories and values linked to environmental sustainability.

Funding: New Frontier in Research Fund Exploration Grant 2019-2022