Art Inspires Us to Act

*Special Projects Are Highlights of Endangered Species Day & ESA@50 Celebrations

By David Robinson, May 19, 2023

Art can be a powerful “tool” for endangered species conservation. Photos and illustrations of threatened and endangered species inspire people to take action.

“Creative practices have the ability to connect people to ecosystems, wildlife and plants in an immediate and powerful way,” explained Jeanne Dodds, Creative Engagement Director for the Endangered Species Coalition. “The process of observing and learning about threatened and endangered species through the creation of a work of visual art brings out the qualities of observation, attention to detail, and understanding of subject matter in ways that are different from and complementary to reading a scientific paper or policy brief.”

For example, The Endangered Species Coalition is coordinating mural projects in locations across the U.S. this year. The murals helped celebrate Endangered Species Day on May 19, and will also be a key element of this year’s 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. Mural artist Raquel Madrigal was chosen for two projects in southern New Mexico. The mural in Doña Ana (below) includes images of the endangered boreal owl and Gila monster lizard.

“People don’t have to take time out of their day to go to a gallery,” Madrigal said. “They just have to walk or drive by, and they see a story. And that’s something I’m very passionate about. The murals are bringing art to the community.”

The Endangered Species Coalition also has organized a special art program enabling young people to work together on multi-media works. “The Collaborating for Wildlife and Plants: ESA at 50 was designed to inspire young people to better understand the Endangered Species Act, and the wildlife and plants it has protected for the past 50 years, through the impactful creation and virtual display of collaborative art,” added Dodds.

Groups of two or more K-12 youth submitted muti-media artwork that features at least one US, US Territory, or US Territorial Waters native or migratory plant or animal species. The following illustration is by Ryan and Claire, 4th and 8th grade students respectively. You can see more examples at the online collaborative art gallery.

Inspiring with art will continue to be an important theme throughout the year. It’s another way to help protect vulnerable species and their precious habitats. Take a look around The Endangered Species Conservation Site and check out other resources to see what else you can do. Today and tomorrow.

Happy Endangered Species Day.


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