Saturday, March 24, 2012

Finding the Essence

Paul Smith's College Student Center on Lower St. Regis Lake
Teaching art classes at Paul Smith's College since last September has been an adventure. The students are lively, creative, and friendly. And many of them are most at home in the northern forest or on pristine lakes. After all, it is a forestry and natural resources school, among other things. For fun, some of these young people snow shoe, climb trees, and throw axes. Others are in the culinary  and hospitality programs - some of them like to play with food (and sometimes bring me exquisite bites of their creations). In these and the other programs, they are very hands-on people, which makes them great art students. They amaze and inspire me. The faculty does no less.

Recently I was invited, along with several other artists, to interpret the science involved in setting up and monitoring a Long Term Ecological Research Project by students in a senior-level course. That Art & Science connection is dear to my heart - having loved and worked in the ecological field as scientist for years - and I am honored to be part of the project. I was out at the research site last weekend, and now I am processing images and information to determine how I want to make a visual artwork for the exhibition of the science and the art at the Paul Smith's College VIC, which will open on April 24th.
The research and monitoring will take place - hopefully over at least the next 200 years (!!!) - in the plots set up about 15 years ago along the Jenkins Mountain Trail to study the effects of 5 timbering techniques in the forest at the Paul Smith's College Visitor Interpretive Center, formerly owned by NY State and now owned and managed by the college. The photo above summarizes the challenge of telling this story with visual arts - ecological interactions, human use, history, and regeneration. 

I'll show my process here of experiencing the site; learning what is know about it already; talking with the students, faculty, and other scientists about the project; and then making some art that tells this story from my own point of view. I hope you'll tell me what you think, offer your ideas, and enjoy the process. Thanks!

No comments: