Weaving together art + science + nature, I invite participation through observation, drawing and other art-making, photography, responsible collecting, and citizen science. My goal is to reach as many people as possible, in as many places as possible, and make the study of nature accessible. By bringing together art and science, offering remote learning opportunities, and customizing experiences to your needs, I invite you and your students to actively observe, investigate, and study nature on your own.
Here are some topics I have taught in the past, which I can tailor for your needs — college level, high school, or middle school. I can teach at your institution as a visiting artist-scientist, prepare e-learning modules, or offer a workshop here at AS IF Center in the North Carolina mountains.
Nature Journaling Old and New: Drawing, Photography, iNaturalist
Noting observations about natural history is one of the oldest human activities. The oldest recognizable forms in paintings depicted four-footed mammals, painted on caves in Lascaux about 20,000 years ago. Over time, we have drawn and painted nature journals to keep track of edible and medicinal plants, to understand the flora and fauna of faraway places, and to study microscopic structures. Today, keeping a nature journal helps us to slow down and pay better attention in a world that scatters our focus.
Students can use nature journals to investigate science in their own backyards. Traditional methods include drawing and painting in several media, effective note-taking, and paying attention to scale — from landscape and topography view to tiny and microscopic. I connect traditional field journal methods to use of the iNaturalist app, and I can coach you and your students in creating projects on that platform. Student assignments might include hand-drawn nature journals, innovative field notes, or accounts on iNaturalist or other citizen science projects.
Drawing to See: Scientific illustration for Biology Observation
Students who draw organisms and their structures learn to see them better. Close observations of structures illuminate structure-function relationships, leading to questions about how an organism relates to other organisms, how it relates to its environment, and how it has evolved. Student assignments might include sketches, finished work in graphite, pen, color pencil, or watercolor. Series of drawings might explore themes such as symbiotic relationships, a taxonomic group, or organisms of a particular habitat.
Art-science for Innovative Science Communication
Effective science communication involves both creativity and critical thinking. I can share examples of the growing body of innovative, exciting art that communicates science, and guide student art-science projects. We can explore literature that informs the field of science communication such as The Science of Science Communication and The Evolving Culture of Science Engagement. Student assignments might include visual art, videos, writing, and/or social media.
Let the Data Sing: Creative Interpretations of Scientific Data
Data sonification and creative graphics can bring scientific information to life. Students could explore examples such as Jeff Talman’s Nature of the Night Sky, Tali Weinberg’s climate-date-based fiber art, and Natalie Miebach’s sculptures and scores using oceanographic data. See many more in #artscience du jour on my Twitter feed. Student assignments might include painting, sculpture, and musical interpretations of data.
Citizen Science: Public Participation in Environmental Research
Some research questions require mountains of data — for example, changes in seasonality as the climate warms, patterns of bird migration, and stream monitoring over time. Citizen science, or more accurately public participation in scientific research (PPSR), is a growing area engaging non-scientists to help collect large amounts of data. Participants may collect a little or a lot, help analyze, and even design projects. For students, these projects are great tools for science learning. In this class, I share some of the best citizen science projects for learning ecology and environmental biology and the responses of our planet to climate change. I can help you incorporate citizen science into your syllabus, provide peer-reviewed literature, and guide student projects.
If you would like me to teach, co-teach, or co-create an art-science event or remote learning module for your institution, please contact me.