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Victoria Parrish

Appoquinimink High School, 11th grade

2024 RENEW essay contest Honorable Mention

The Original Artist

I breathe in the colors of the world, the sweet pink roses, and the dewy fresh greens and blues of the river. Each color and scent is carefully crafted and blended, mother nature is always painting her masterpiece. When I’m lost and my mind does not wish to create, I turn to the original artist herself and the words come to me, because the original artist provides to her disciples, you just have to watch, wait, and listen. I am one of her disciples as a writer and musician. 

When I was little I spent all summer at my Mum Mums house while my parents worked. My days consisted of running barefoot between gardens into the forest and down to the stream or climbing trees in my great uncle’s backyard. I used to sit there for hours, with a notebook open in my lap and a pen in my hand. I would listen to the birds chirp and watch the leaves fall as the pages slowly filled, as my mind and hand seemed to move of their own accord. Many of my stories feature flowers, birds, stars, and more; I love to write about fantastical far-off lands and magic but it’s seemingly impossible for me to write about the magic of fantasy without also writing about the magic and beauty of nature in our world. If I removed every story, poem, or song I’ve ever written that features birds, flowers, stars, or trees, I don’t think there would be any left. Almost every great writer, artist, musician, etc. has been inspired by nature. My connection with nature through creation is not unique but it is special, as James Bailey stated, “Art is man’s nature. Nature is God’s art,”. 

How many stories and tales have you read that speak of the beauty of a rose? Or the freedom of the bird? What would they be without such imagery and symbolism? I know for one that my writing and music would seem quite bleak without such inspiration. The art and stories of our world, create the very culture and society we live in, without the influence of nature, our lives would be quite bleak. What would Van Gogh’s starry night look like? What would the fairytales we devour when we are young be like? 

In a world where the stars are disappearing more and more, taken over by the brighter and colder man-made lights. Where more and more flowers that are featured in so many stories are crushed under human development, it might soon become a reality. In fact, 689 species have been known to go extinct because of human activity, this includes development, overharvesting, deforestation, and more. Biodiversity, the diversity of species and organisms in our ecosystems, is vital to not only our planet but humans as well, but with the extinction and endangerment of so many species biodiversity is weakening. The loss of biodiversity decreases water and air quality, so many plant species act as a natural filtration system for the earth, for example, trees take the co out of the atmosphere and convert it into the oxygen that we breathe. Van Gogh said before, “I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream,” and I ask you this: what is art without dreams? I ask this because in an estimated 20 years the stars could become invisible. The sky is becoming about 10% brighter every year because of light pollution. Now I know it does not seem like that big of a deal, we do not need to see the stars to live and thrive, but light pollution has a lot more negative effects. Research suggests that light pollution can cause harm to human health by increasing the risk of obesity, sleep disorders, and depression. It also negatively affects the natural world by disrupting natural wildlife patterns and increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We are not only losing beauty and inspiration but also health and safety. 

I can’t imagine my life without art, stories, and music, therefore I can’t imagine my life without the beauty of nature. This fear and reality of losing the natural world that has both inspired and provided for me and so many others, losing that beauty, motivates me to protect and preserve our environment and earth, as well as teach future generations about the beauty of nature so they too will be motivated to protect and preserve it. Last summer I volunteered at a fishing camp for children in Wilmington with an environmental non-profit, where I was in charge of the arts and crafts table. I showed the children how to paint and print fish, similar to the ones they had attempted to catch earlier in the day. By the end of the day I was covered in paint from my head to my feet, but it was worth it. They were all incredibly messy but also happy. I saw them become even more excited to fish and become more excited to explore the environment that we were trying to teach them about. Through this experience, I was able to start a connection between these children and their environment through art. A connection that I hope they carry with them and continue to explore. I also not only try to help future generations create this connection but also help to protect the environment so it remains inspiring. I participate in cleanups, awareness events and campaigns, and the removal of invasive species. It is important to connect with our world so we and future generations are motivated to protect the very thing keeping us and every other living thing alive and in balance. 

“Art is a harmony parallel with nature,”-Paul Cezanne. Our Earth is vital in not only keeping us healthy and alive but also happy and in some cases fulfilled. To encourage others and future generations to protect and preserve the earth a connection needs to be made between them and their environment, such as mine and many others connections through art, and it needs to be around long enough for that connection to be made. There needs to be harmony between humanity and our earth, right now it’s a little out of tune but I know that it can be found. So I leave you with this, what would your life be like without nature?

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