Environmental Literature | Social Justice | Sustainable Futures

The Wilderness and Art

January 28th, 2017 | Posted by Riley Cohen in Uncategorized

It’s difficult to determine whether a concept such as the wilderness exists independently of human beings, or whether the wilderness has no meaning void of human interpretation. It’s undeniable that there are certain qualities of nature that are unique. The transcendentalists, according to Cox, find the wilderness as a source of spirituality. The wilderness’ spirituality may not exist void of human beings, meaning it probably is a symbolic construction, however this does not negate the real positive experiences it provides people across cultures.


It is important to note that I am not claiming that the only value of the wilderness is its relation to human beings. Rather, I am claiming that the spiritual value of the wilderness is an incentive for us to protect it.


To be honest, I have never personally felt this spiritual connection to the wilderness. The longest I’ve spent in isolation in the forest was five days during summer camp, and I dreaded the experience. Although I didn’t feel the spirituality of the wilderness there, I do, to some degree, experience the spirituality of the wilderness second hand, through art.


Some of the greatest artists have used the wilderness and its spirituality to express what otherwise cannot be understood. My favourite poet, Robert Frost who is heavily influenced by the transcendentalists, embraces the wilderness and has created beautiful works just by describing nature. Whether or whether not this beauty exists intrinsically does not diminish its important to us. It therefore is worth protecting.

Cox, Robert, and Phaedra C. Pezullo. “Chapter 1 Studying/Practicing Environmental Communication.” Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2016. Print.

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