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Art and Environmental Action, One Bird at a Time


The environmental problems of climate change and species decline can feel overwhelming. Individuals are often at a loss, questioning what impact they can actually have. Through chART Projects, we have witnessed the dramatic effect of community-engaged art as a direct path to environmental action and impact on local ecosystems. During the 27thInternational Ornithological Congress, bird enthusiasts from around the world focused their attention on Vancouver, Canada. This article is a reflection on how chART took advantage of this assembly, creating an ambitious venture aiming for a sustainable effect on the public’s relationship to urban birds. As the Crow Flies was a public art project bringing creative connections to urban birds directly into the hands of the public. Works included sited-sculpture, community-engaged interventions, projections, workshops, performances, and 6,000 ceramic crows.

chART’s founder, Cameron Cartiere has been working with an interdisciplinary team to address the loss of pollinators through Border Free Bees. That research project used environment-based art to engage communities to take positive action in order to improve conditions for pollinators, with tremendous success. As the Crow Flies took a similar approach to highlight the loss of bird species and actions individuals could take to improve the odds for their feathered neighbours.

Pages:7 to 24
Section: Art and Activism
How to Cite
Cartiere, C. (2020) “Art and Environmental Action, One Bird at a Time”, The Journal of Public Space, 5(4), pp. 7-24. doi:

Author Biography

Emily Carr University of Art + Design
Canada Canada

Cameron Cartiere (BFA, MA, PhD) is Professor of Public Art and Social Practice. She is an artist, researcher and writer specializing in public art, urban renewal, and environmental issues. Dr. Cartiere specializes in community-based collaborative public projects. She founded chART Projects in 2011 as a way to explore the long-lasting connections between public art and community engagement. In addition to an active art, consultation and research practice, she is also the author of RE/Placing Public Art, co-editor of The Practice of Public Art (with Shelly Willis) and The Everyday Practice of Public Art: Art, Space, and Social Inclusion (with Martin Zebracki), and co-author of the Manifesto of Possibilities: Commissioning Public Art in the Urban Environment. Cameron has recently completed The Routledge Companion to Art in the Public Realm (with Leon Tan) which is the first anthology to take a comprehensive global view of public art. She is currently working on a new anthology, The Failures of Public Art and Participation (with Anthony Schrag).


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ISSN 2206-9658