Monday, May 28, 2012

Art in Nature Training

Last week I was able to help with an Art in Nature training for Nature Center Camp Counselors. I enjoyed the experience of working with adults, and hopefully gave them some tools they can use with the kids they will be herding. We started the training with a short discussion focused on the questions "What is art?" and "How is art connected to nature?"

For the first question, we came up with three basic ideas: Art can be almost anything- painting, music, acting, sculpture, dance, poetry, even something made of sticks and leaves. Art is something that is created (usually by humans), and Art is a way of expressing an idea, thought, feeling, something inside you.

Most of the counselors answered that Nature is a source of inspiration to the second question, 'How is Art connected to Nature?'. There were different opinions about whether nature itself is art, or if it has to be manipulated by humans.  I would like to explore this subject more in the future.  What do you think, is nature  art?

Wheat grass- Is Nature Art?
Onion Flower- Is Nature Art?
Rucker Canyon Lake, AZ 2005 photo by Jacob
Is Nature Art?

I wrote the following for a handout given to the counselors, and I think it expresses my thoughts about how we can use art to help connect people to nature.

Art reaches us differently than many activities. Visual art, music, dance, poetry, and writing allow us to express ourselves, and connect to the world. At the nature center we want to give children opportunities to connect to nature, and art is a tool we can use. Art is available to all no matter our abilities and talents. We are free to express what is in our hearts and minds. The goal for us isn’t the product, but the process. Be a source of encouragement, and a facilitator of exploration. Art is different from crafts because it is less directed with step by step instructions, and a defined outcome. We give the kids some guidelines and media (paint, rocks, popsicle sticks) and see what they invent. I’m sure some beautiful art will be produced but, more importantly as long as someone’s heart is in it, it will be incredible, beautiful, and powerful.

 We finished the training with a Andy Goldworthy video and time outside making art out of sticks, rocks, leaves, and grass.  Each group made wonderful works, and can share the experience with kids this summer.  

Art Made by kids in Andy Goldsworthly fashion.