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Lesson Plans

trees, birdhouses, campus ecology, etc.

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Lynn Hull (ecoartHulll)
Thu, 6 Nov 1997 11:58:09 -0500

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Mass mailing 4 on some resources for many of you:

Chris--check the rainforest action network website for rainforest info.

Anel & Belia--Mierle Ukeles has stayed on with the NY sanitation department
for 20 years! as artist in residence with them. (after 17 years they gave
her an offfice). I am more in the model you suggest, hoping the community
and the sculpture will continue to support their wildlife. Ukeles has done
many installations and performances with the sanitation dept, including
research on innovative recycling techniques at industrial levels. Recently
she had been working on "Flow City", a public art work for the new Hudson
River transfer station, ie the place where the garbage trucks dump loads
onto barges to go to Freshkills Landfill on Staten Island (there were a
number of artists working on that site). Her artwork included views of the
transfer process and info on recycling. Last I heard, on NPR, Staten
Island complained to Mayor Guliani that they were becoming known as NYC's
dumpsite and they didn't like it. So Guliani CANCELED THE ART PROJECTS as
the way to deal with the issue! Just goes to show the power of art!

School lessons on changing lifestyles--Haydee, Mindy & others. Check the
book CAMPUS ECOLOGY. It gives you the information to make major changes on
your campus and could be adapted to fit a school situation. It doesn't go
into one area this discussion group has me thinking about:

TREES, birdhouses, compost, lifestyles: Lisa and many others: When I was
in Africa I proposed a program based on the idea of having kids plant
trees and shrubs along the nature trails of the little environmental ed
centers. These would be native trees that had FRUITS AND FLOWERS to
support and feed wildlife we wanted to encourage so the children could see
them. Several of you have mentioned tree planting--what about emphasis on
wildlife trees? Lisa, I loved your lesson plan for the birdhouses and all
the issues raised by it, with one major reservation--it is VERY difficult
for 3rd graders to build birdhouses which accurately fulfill the needs of
birds. Often we have middle and high school students building birdhouses
which still can't handle the equation of size of cavity/hole size/distance
from floor--and the books of directions are very confusing. So I wonder
if your lesson could be shifted to planting trees, maybe adding a water
capture source. My original idea was to partner groups in the US with
groups in Africa to act locally to build wildlife gardens while supporting
each other and communicating at a global level via art, letters, etc. The
project never got organized; maybe with the internet it could.
Another component to the wildlife garden could be composting the
lunchroom waste to fertilize the trees, shrubs and flowers. I can never
believe the amount of food waste kids put out. they could easily be
supporting chickens and pigs if any schools want to take that one on!

Mark, thanks for the good information on water. What measures is Tucson
implementing toward conservation? I once heard an environmentalist from
India comment that he didn't think there were any real American
environmentalists because in his experience, they all still had Lawns!

Ron: Loved the logpiles in the river project. If I were involved, I would
be advocating an aesthetic component to placing the logs because I feel it
honors the earth, the creatures, and our gift of creativity. It can also
rally public support of a project. In Answer to your question, I know of
two artists, one in NY and one in FL, who have created underwater reefs. I
don't know about the aesthetic components of either. I recently met Erica
Fielder, who is beginning to make art out of her background as an
environmental interpreter. She installed metal cutouts of salmon along a
salmon river in N.Cal. showing the changing body profile as the salmon goes
through the spawning and dying phases swimming upriver. I would love to
see some of Tom Jay's bronze salmon sculptures set out in the environment
as "shrines" to the return of the fish he has worked so hard to bring back.

Goldsworthy: Many of you are justifiably excited about using his work in
lessons. I have had great success with this as a way to introduce people
to environmental art and to a place. Two suggestions: add a "site survey"
component, in which you have students gather limited samples (I ask them to
find "one natural object") and together examine the materials in terms of
their ecological and design possibilities. When all of us have talked
about rocks as mass, volume and color, sticks as line and structure,
nature's geometry, etc then they choose their materials to do temporary
artworks. REmember, the temporary artworks left outdoors are more
ecological and can be saved with a snapshot--removing materials from the
site degrades the environment and sends a mixed message. Secondly, I have
never had a better lesson in color perception than trying to lay out a leaf
color shift in the way he does. Fall foliage is best, of course. Start
with green leaves, gradually allow yellow or red to come in, eventually go
to brown. You will learn a lot about color and that different species of
trees have different color ranges; it doesn't really work to mix them. The
color shift can be done as a group effort, resulting in a leaf line several
yards long.
You may find students trying to work with trash and manmade objects
they pick up at a site. Sometimes, if we have time, I have them build a
group sculpture of the trash after they have worked with the natural
materials. I try to always take along a garbage bag so we can bring back
and dispose of all the trash we find out on any field trip, so we even
recycle the recycled sculpture.

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