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.
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:
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.
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!
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!