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How to Green Your Art Collection

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Artists, those consummate preservers of beauty, seem to have a keen sensitivity about sustaining the planet. If you're an art collector, aficionado, or appreciator, these four tips should help you shift your collection (or simply the way you see art) into a more earth-minded endeavor.

1. Choose Works Made of Reused Materials. Plenty of artists are repurposing the items discarded around them into attractive -- and valuable -- works. Sandy Schimmel Gold, for example, created a 36-by-60-inch Birth of Venus entirely from junk mail. Tuesday Winslow makes papier-mâché mirror frames made of old phone directories and magazines. Home-furnishings retailer Maison 24 sells a wall hanging by artist Aaron Foster: a peace sign made of used license plates. Buy items like these, and you'll not only be giving old stuff new life, but you'll also be supporting artists who recycle while adding new treasures to your home. For inspiration, and if you live in the Northeast, visit Salem's Peabody Essex Museum to see its "Trash Menagerie" exhibit.

2. Buy Art Made of Green Materials. If pieces made with never-before-used media appeal more to you, you can still make your art purchases green by opting for works made of planet-preserving materials. Artist Aaron Chang uses earth-friendly dyes and organic wood frames. Art.com sells posters printed in planet-preserving ways, including on Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper, using soy-based ink. To learn more about artists who have gone green, connect with the L.A.-based Arts:Earth Partnership.

3. Support Artists Who Depict Environmental Issues. We've discussed media and method, but what about content? Plenty of artists are taking up climate change and planetary preservation as their subject matter. Take Riitta Ikonen: She sews costumes, like snowflakes and car seats, that make a statement about the state of our environment. Designers are now making striking, silly, sustainable bikes that double as art pieces. And a husband and wife are aiming to paint every U.S. National Park. Care about endangered species? Check out these guys. Whomever you patronize, hang your eco-art high, and explain to admirers the conservation cause behind your conversation piece.

4. Make it Yourself. You'll save not only money, but also the environmental costs of delivery if you make your own eco-art. Artistsnetwork.com provides these useful tips: Choose nontoxic paints and solvents, reuse what you can, and opt for sustainable canvases and papers. Seeking inspiration for subject matter? That's what the natural world is there for.

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