One of the joys of teaching at the Arboretum is drawing ideas for programs from our lovely surroundings. Plants, animals, birdsong, and breezes engage the senses and offer endless chances for connection and curiosity. Daily and seasonal happenings in nature -- big and small --invite us to notice and discover. We’re lucky to be able to use the whole Arboretum as our inspiration and classroom!
In addition, the beautiful and diverse art exhibits in the Frank Juliano Gallery in Wisner House offer another aspect for viewing and interpreting the natural world – a complementary means of fostering perception, exploration, and imagination. It has been really rewarding (and fun!) to be able to incorporate gallery visits into children’s classes.
Children delving into “Critters and Colors” and “A Bug’s Eye View” had the opportunity to study Leonard McDonald’s amazing macro photographs. His large images of tiny subjects including bees, butterflies, and dragonflies, encourage the viewer to enter the domain of these small marvels and study their breathtaking structure, patterns, and iridescence. Young viewers came away with an enhanced knowledge of the insect world and pollination and an appreciation of the patience, awareness, and stillness needed to create these photos.
The curriculum for “Crafty Kids,” one of our summer camps, grows from the idea that all over the world, since prehistoric times, nature has provided inspiration and materials for art. Campers in this session who visited William Durkin’s The Shoaling, marveled at the array of shimmering, intricate ocean creatures made from an assortment of unusual materials including buttons, chopsticks, and silverware. This was a perfect opportunity to explore the form and color of living things and what makes each species/individual unique. Campers then created their own sea creatures, using buttons and a range of recycled materials. It was great to see the singular style and inventiveness of each child’s design!
At this time of year, as we plan next year’s programs, I’m looking forward to the wonders the coming seasons in the garden will bring – and to sharing them with our young visitors. I’m also looking forward to the first exhibit of 2023, Imaginature: Children’s Book Art by Margaret Peot and Giselle Potter and to the vibrant exhibit scheduled for mid-year.
To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same fields, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.
Ralph Waldo Emerson