Art and the Natural Environment: An Overview

By Anderson, Heather | School Arts, May-June 2005 | Go to article overview

Art and the Natural Environment: An Overview


Anderson, Heather, School Arts


The sunset lesson on pages 42-43 of this issue concludes the Art and the Natural Environment series that has run throughout this volume year. The series of nine lessons were presented under three basic environmental themes: Water, Land. and Sky. As you will see in the chart below, the curriculum includes more lessons and themes than were presented in SchoolArts this year. Two additional themes, Wildlife and Plant Life, complete the curriculum that I designed, and each theme includes five lessons.

The goals for this curriculum of five environmental themes ate increased artistic awareness, understanding and creativity, and expanded environmental awareness and involvement.

Art and Environmental Goals

I am passionate about landscape themes, and I paint the places I work to protect. My hope is to connect with others through art in a concern for our remaining world of wilderness, to share Rachel Carson's "sense of wonder," and to inspire students' aesthetic endeavors.

I initiated this interdisciplinary curriculum with both environmental and art goals to help students gain an awareness of California's San Joaquin River environment through art experiences. I worked to inspire student artists to create insightful images of the nature, history, and environmental issues of the riparian wilderness and wildlife.

Students learned about artists of water, wildlife, and plant life, and worked in the various media of pen, pencil, pastel, and watercolor. These young artists enlarged their perception of the river environment and celebrated that environment with their own creations, culminating in a museum exhibit. A weekend workshop for teachers was also conducted. The program was facilitated by a generous local grant with matching funds from participating schools.

As educators, we have an opportunity to teach our students about environmental awareness so that later generations can still see the beauty of a golden eagle in flight, feel awed before a giant sequoia tree, draw nature from observation, or paint their memory of a grand sky. …

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