How Art Can Encourage Conscious, Sustainable Living.

Online course with Alessandra Montalbetti
January–February 2023

We plant trees and trees plant us, since we belong to each other and must coexist. […] Trees, therefore, are conscious of us, just as we are conscious of trees.

Joseph Beuys, The Defense of Nature, Bolognano (Pescara), May 13, 1984

The purpose of art is to encourage reflection, prick our conscience, and create knowledge. Therefore, art will be a vehicle to explore various urgent issues that are part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by its 193 member states in September 2015.

Four online lectures will examine how artists and their works of art engage with issues such as climate change, peace, justice, reducing inequalities, and sustainable development. Participants will discover how German artist Joseph Beuys focused his artistic practice on the need to create a new and lasting alliance between man and nature; how Cuban-born artist Felix Gonzales-Torres and U.S. artist Keith Haring engaged with the themes of social inequality and human relationships; and how architects like Renzo Piano and Norman Foster design sustainable buildings. The lectures will highlight how art poses questions and offers answers and new perspectives on topics that should be a primary concern for all of us.

Acting Against Climate Change

Monday, January 23, 7 pm

Nobel Prize winner Paul Crutzen’s publications on the Anthropocene, such as Benvenuti nell’Antropocene, published in 2005, emphasize the urgent need for humanity to take responsibility for the evolution and survival of our planet. This first lecture focuses on artists who have always been deeply invested in this topic—from Giovanni Segatini, who escaped life in the city, to Joseph Beuys, who founded the first Green Party, to other contemporary examples.

Industry and Innovation

Monday, January 30, 7pm

From Umberto Boccioni to Norman Foster, the second lecture will reveal how art and architecture can offer answers and stimulate reflection on topics related to urban development and sustainable industry, combining and balancing economic growth with the protection of our planet’s ecosystem.

Peace and Justice

Monday, February 13, 7 pm

Many artists throughout history have been fearless in tackling important issues such as peace and justice and condemning the role of powerful institutions. In some cases, this has led them to clash with national politics over causes they felt strongly about, as is the case with Marina Abramovich and Regina Galindo.

Reducing Inequality

Monday, February 27, 7 pm

How many minorities still lack representation? How widespread is gender discrimination and social inequality? Campaigns for the rights of women, homosexuals, people of color and of different ethnicity, language, and religion have always counted on artists to take a stand and ask the world: “different from whom?”

Alessandra Montalbetti

Alessandra Montalbetti entered the Education Department of the Superintendence of Artistic-Historical and Demo-Ethno-Anthropological Heritage of Milan in 1982. She creates didactic materials for schools of every grade level and, specializing in contemporary art history, teaches contemporary art lessons in the refresher course for secondary school teachers organized by the Superintendency with the support of the Amici di Brera Association. From 1983 to 1990 she designed the first educational courses for schools for the Civico Museo d'Arte Contemporanea (Cimac) under the Direction of the Civic Museums. In 2000, she participated in the working group of the Superintendence, preparing intercultural teaching materials for primary and lower secondary schools (project "A Brera anch’io"). Since 1983, she has collaborated with important Italian associations and museums (Associazione Amici di Brera e dei Musei Milanesi, Italia nostra, Anisa, Associazione Milano Cultura e Natura, Università Unitre, Associazione Amici del Loggione - Teatro della Scala, Associazione Volarte, Associazione Amici del Museo Bagatti Valsecchi, Rotary Club and, since 2012, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection) while continuing her research and publication work.