Calder Greenwood: The Artist + The Environment

Every April 22nd, the world takes a day to honor and celebrate that planet we all call home. As people celebrate the connection between themselves and the environment, a sense of peace and love flourishes. Here in DTLA, we celebrate with EARTH DAY LA as Grand Park, The Music Center and the Department of Water and Power come together to present a day of composting, recycling, yoga, kids’ performances, tree giveaways and more.

I caught up with Calder Greenwood, a local artist whose work will be on display at Earth Day LA. Greenwood has made a splash in Downtown LA, with his giant animal sculptures highlighting the wild side of the city. His installation will consist of large dragonflies, largely made of cardboard and recycled materials, buzzing around in the trees on the Performances Lawn.

DW:    Your work has celebrated nature in some very urban environments. How did this juxtaposition come about?

CG: No urban environment is completely devoid of nature – it surrounds us, is above and below us, even if we only see it creeping through cracks in the sidewalk.  I try to make these contained slices of nature more noticeable by drawing attention to them.

DW:    Can you tell us why you chose to create a dragonfly?

CG: As a child my school celebrated Earth Day by visiting a nearby park.  I remember seeing giant dragonflies buzzing around us, taking note of their translucent wings when they landed on a plant.  It seems fitting to celebrate that image now, to share that sense of wonder with a younger generation, which may have never seen a dragonfly in real life.

DW:    What inspires you about Grand Park?

CG: My dog actually – she responds to the park, to the sights and sounds and smells, the way a child would, with curiosity.

DW:    How does the setting of a piece affect your perspective?

CG: Setting is the most important aspect of a publicly-installed piece, because it draws attention to the environment it’s in.  A well-placed piece should make you more conscious of the world around you, which you might otherwise never notice.

DW:    What steps can Angelenos take to honor their environment more?

CG: Every human should regard nature with respect, we share this planet with everything else that inhabits it, it’s a symbiotic relationship.  We should all be more conscious of how our actions effect the environment, and we should all try to leave less of a footprint.  Reducing waste and recycling is a way of life that anyone and everyone can do and should do.

DW:    Do artists have a responsibility to inform their audiences about the environment?

CG: The responsibility lies with everyone, not just artists.  We are all stewards.

— Duncan Woodbury, Grand Park’s Green Blogger

And if you really want to get into the spirit, check out Grand Park’s 8 Tips To Help The Environment This Earth Day.