Art intersects with the environment in many ways. Art can draw attention to environmental causes, as it does with social justice causes. Art installations can become part of an environment or affect an environment. Some environmental artists work with natural materials or objects in the environment. And some artists’ work directly preserves the environment.
You may not think of planting trees as an art, but ask any horticulturist or landscape designer if their creative work is an art. It certainly is! Armenia Tree Project—founded in 1994 and based in Massachusetts and Armenia—even describes its mission as “the art of growing and planting trees.”
Armenia Tree Project (ATP) began in response to a need to replace thousands of trees cut down by families needing to heat their homes in Armenia. The goal of ATP is to create a healthy and sustainable environment.
Over the past twenty-seven years, ATP has planted over six million forest, fruit, and decorative trees at more than 1,200 sites in every region of Armenia. In addition to establishing commercial tree nurseries, ATP has encouraged families to grow seedlings on their own land. ATP purchases the trees for replanting when they’ve grown large enough.
In 2004, ATP began environmental education programs, often focusing on schools and children. Building Bridges Interactive pages on the ATP website provide creative projects and games for kids and families that focus on topics like ecology and fire prevention. ATP has also co-sponsored poster contests to celebrate World Environment Day, and they’ve brought their educational and advocacy materials to music festivals and other events.
Through their efforts, ATP has helped Armenians to protect and sustain their environment, improve their standard of living, and create jobs. That’s the power of arts and activism!
Pictured: Trees planted in 2019 by ATP at Aurora Mardiganian Memorial Alley at the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Aurora Mardiganian was an Armenian American author, actress, and survivor of the Armenian Genocide.
To learn more about Armenian art, culture, and history, also visit the Armenian Museum of America, located in Watertown. This month, the Museum has scheduled a series of programs focused on genocide education. April 24 is recognized as the date the extermination of the Armenian people began in 1915.