Facts and Beauty:

Let’s make the human-land connection relevant once again

Artists’ Day Out - Review of the May 11th, 2019 Event

photos by Linda Thomas

article by Program Director, Jeanine Moy

The Vesper Meadow Education Program was born of a decade-long dream to start a nature-based education program that fully integrates science + art + stewardship. I want to work at the intersections of these disciplines, which usually are compartmentalized from each other. There is no reason for them to be separate; both science and art are ways of understanding the world around us. At best, science gives us facts and art gives us beauty.

Blending together these different modes of understanding, not only makes for some fun and enriched programming, but goes deeper in cultivating community engagement in stewardship. Our society will not be able to sustain a Conservation Movement without both facts and beauty. Current and future generations will have (and already do have) a tenuous chance of existence when there is weak relationship to the land.

The idea for Artists’ Day Out started alongside the idea for the Vesper Meadow Education Program - a debut that demonstrates both the facts and beauty of the land. The Vesper Meadow Restoration Preserve is undergoing a long-term restoration project, which not only includes the science of restoring water resources, enhancing the native plant community, and monitoring rare species, but also restoring the cultural connection that humans have with the land.

What better way to jumpstart this renewal of the human-land relationship, than to invite a bunch of creatives (poets, writers, painters, photographers, crafters…) to utilize their art to document the current state of Vesper Meadow. This is what scientists may call ‘baseline’ data. Later, down the road of restoration, we will be able to look at paintings and say something like “wow, look how the native plants have grown back” or “remember when the creek was eroded and unhealthy?” They are participating in the beginning of a positive human-land relationship.

The first forest discussion circle. A dozen artists’ prepared for students’ arrival by sharing about their experiences of artistic inspiration and mentors.

The first forest discussion circle. A dozen artists’ prepared for students’ arrival by sharing about their experiences of artistic inspiration and mentors.

These creatives, are not only documenting, but also sharing in the vision for a future state of the Vesper Meadow habitat; a colorful and vibrant landscape rich in wildlife, a place to practice science and create art.

And in thinking about the future, we would be remiss if not to mention the younger generations. We owe so much to them. And so, the other big part of the Artists’ Day Out event was mentorship. Twenty-one students were paired in groups or 2-3 and an artist-mentor of their choice. This was an extremely unique experience for all involved, since teachers and students alike rarely experience the benefits of working in small groups. They spent the day exploring Vesper Meadow and creating paintings, song and poetry, printmaking, photography, natural sculpture and weaving.

The resulting day was beautiful. Have a peak for yourself:

Along the eroded banks of the highly degraded Dead Indian Creek, artist Diamond Ferraiullo discusses landscape painting with HS Senior, while a photography group explores the meadow in the distance.

Along the eroded banks of the highly degraded Dead Indian Creek, artist Diamond Ferraiullo discusses landscape painting with HS Senior, while a photography group explores the meadow in the distance.

Daniel Sherriell, musician, discusses music theory and song writing in the shade of second growth forest. Check out our social media share of the song his students composed!

Daniel Sherriell, musician, discusses music theory and song writing in the shade of second growth forest. Check out our social media share of the song his students composed!

This sort of event is about connection: celebrating a place, sharing of ideas, creativity, and skills, and restoring a human-land culture.

Thanks to the artists, students, parents, volunteers, and teachers that made this all possible.

Photographer Daniel Thiede talks about how to capture images of moving water along the creek with a student. Water flows are currently being measured in the creek as restoration activities begin at Vesper Meadow,

Photographer Daniel Thiede talks about how to capture images of moving water along the creek with a student. Water flows are currently being measured in the creek as restoration activities begin at Vesper Meadow,

SOU Student Mentor Raven guides a student in some first-time print making with linoblocks.

SOU Student Mentor Raven guides a student in some first-time print making with linoblocks.

Elizabeth Toby, Crafter-of-All-Things forages for lichen and plants with students to create natural sculptures and weavings.

Elizabeth Toby, Crafter-of-All-Things forages for lichen and plants with students to create natural sculptures and weavings.

Big thanks to those local businesses that helped to supply students for the day: Ashland Food Coop, Ashland Market of Choice, Northwest Nature Shop, Ashland ACE Hardware, Scrappy Craft, and Jeanne at the Ashland Art Center!

Youth-nature-Vesper-Meadow

These rewarding experiences have created lasting memories, and we can't wait to do it again next year!


Want to support our inspiration programs? Consider donating during our spring fundraising campaign to help bring our education programs to the next level! You not only will get a tax deduction for your donation, but your support will go a long way during 2019, our inaugural year.

Thank you for supporting community conservation!

Jeanine Moy