The term "environmental art" is a bit misleading, in that it encompasses all sorts of artistic interventions in nature, whether the works are "good" for the environment or not. Many of the most famous environmental artworks were made using heavy machinery, causing permanent changes to landscapes in the name of art.
Daniel McCormick is an eco-artist in the truest sense. For over twenty-five years, the Bay Area creator has been making ephemeral art that actually performs a positive ecological function. McCormick's silt traps and erosion control weavings, made from local riparian materials, help heal dirty rivers and creeks before slowly disappearing into the landscape.
Ephemerality is key to McCormick's practice. After helping restore damaged ecosystems, his works biodegrade into the local ecology. "I like to do the work and see it work," said the artist. "I don't need a monument."
A new show from McCormick at the David Brower Center, titled Methods and Materials: Ecological Art in Practice, brings his work inside, focusing on unusual artistic materials like willow branches, dogwood cuttings, sycamore and oak roots, burlap, and recycled coconut fibers.
If you're in the Bay Area, definitely check it out.