Amazon Aid Foundation’s Artists for The Amazon program is excited to welcome visual artist Nikhita Kalluri who advocates for the Amazon through activism and art.
How did you first become inspired by the Amazon?
I first became inspired by the Amazon when I learned about the rich cultures of the Indigenous people who directly depend on it for survival. The connection they share with the natural world is beautiful, and rather than just taking from nature, they take and give back in a way that replenishes the land and maintains the balance of the ecosystem. The Amazon itself is beautiful. It has the most biodiverse place in the world and is the lungs of our planet. However, when I learned about external forces coming into play with the mindset of profit, such as animal agriculture, deforestation, and gold mining, I knew something had to be done. This was when I started advocating for the Amazon Rainforest through my activism.
How does the Amazon Rainforest and environmentalism manifest in your work?
I have always loved drawing and painting nature, animals, or people with a free spirit and a deep connection to nature. A lot of the drawings I create relate to environmental destruction, and the lack of empathy in big industries, as well as the beauty of embracing nature. All of these ideas are embodied in the preservation of the Amazon.
Tell us more about your work as an environmental and climate activist? How does your art shape that work and vice versa?
As an environmental and climate activist, I advocate for the natural world through whatever means possible. I am part of the Sunrise and Youth Climate Save Movements through which I educate and spread awareness about climate and environmental problems, and hold events and projects to take action. Something else that I have been doing is creating art that shines light on these issues. I believe that art is just another representation of nature and through what already exists in nature, I create my art. I try to use symbolism in my drawings to depict this relation, but my pieces are usually to the point in describing the issue. This is because I believe that our approach to addressing climate change and other environmental issues should be direct and to the point. My perspective as an activist has definitely opened up my eyes to more issues and given me more material to use for my art. At the same time, art evokes creativity and compassion, themes that are the center of my activism.
Do you have any planned pieces about Amazon?
Most of my pieces involve nature and environmental issues in some form. I definitely have planned pieces about some of these issues, but I hope to make one specifically on the Amazon.
As artists, what can we do to help protect the Amazon?
As artists, it is important to highlight environmental protection in all the work that we do. Simply shining light on the issues affecting the Amazon such as animal agriculture, gold mining, and deforestation can go a long way in helping others realize the need to protect it. My goal as an artist is to invoke compassion in the eyes of the viewer. Compassion is a principle that allows people to be kind to themselves and others, making decisions morally and with more awareness. An artist is successful if they are able to make the viewer feel something. Emotional awareness is key to make more people want to advocate for the Amazon.